Photo by Christina on Unsplash

Around 60% of people working for a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the United Kingdom believe their company still has work to do to advance diversity and inclusion policies, reveals a new study by GetApp, a Gartner company.

“Diversity as a term is thrown around a lot. Its importance is understood and relayed, but sometimes it is hard to see real tangible action taking place to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” Sonia Navarrete, senior content analyst at GetApp, said in comments to 150sec.

Their survey of 1,001 individuals employed by an SME with up to 250 workers found that 19% of the employers do not have a diversity and inclusion policy in place.

“Of this proportion, 8% plan on implementing one in the near future. However 11% have no intention of implementing one,” says GetApp, a recommendation engine that helps SMEs make the right software choice.

A further 19% of the respondents said not many employees come from racially diverse backgrounds, and 14% reported that no employees come from diverse backgrounds.  

Meanwhile, 45% stated that some employees come from diverse backgrounds, of which the most common forms of diversity included age and generation diversity (at 61%), followed by gender diversity (53%), and ethnic diversity (50%).

GetApp’s survey highlighted that 23% of the employees have either been personally discriminated against or have known someone who has been discriminated against in the workplace.

Of those that experienced discrimination, 29% came in the form of racial discrimination, 27% age or generation discrimination, and 23% gender discrimination. Of this, 28% filed a complaint that was not taken seriously by managers.

“Twenty percent of the companies that held meetings to discuss ways to improve diversity and inclusion after the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement haven’t yet delivered on the initiatives proposed since they were first spoken about. Therefore, from this study, we were able to better understand the discrepancies between what companies say they are doing versus what employees perceive is being done,” Navarrete explained.

This is worrying given that 57% of the respondents said it is very important to work for a company that supports social movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights. However, 28% of companies believe it is not very important, and 15% said it is not at all important. Of those that stated it is not at all important, the majority were male between the ages of 55 and 60.

In terms of gender diversity, 15% of those surveyed believe men have more growth opportunities within their company.

“Of the 15% of the respondents that stated this, 46% were men and 53% were women. Additionally, 20% believe men are paid more than women, of this proportion, 44% were men and 66% were women. Finally, 40% believe that their company is not transparent when it comes to employees getting pay raises and promotions,” GetApp noted.

Overall three-quarters of the respondents said that diversity is important to them. However, 20% reported that they feel unaffected by it, while 5% say it is not important to them. Of the 5% that do not think it is important, the majority were males between the ages of 55 and 60.

In GetApp’s view, workplace diversity is an important asset because it helps bring a broader mix of backgrounds and perspectives to any company, helping them think and act differently and achieve better results. Gartner research, for example, found that in a diverse workforce, performance improves by 12% and intent to stay by 20%.

GetApp recommends that SMEs use internal communications software to encourage an open and collaborative culture in the workplace.

“This allows management to share company information with staff, but also allows staff to discreetly communicate with managers about equality and diversity,” it noted.