The UK ranks fourth internationally for creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, according to a ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ survey published by member-based advisory firm, CEB.

Reinforcing this, almost two thirds (63%) of UK employees stated their organisations are actively promoting workplace diversity through relevant policies and programmes. In contrast, APAC countries rank worst globally for workforce diversity with Malaysia (56%), New Zealand (52%) and Singapore (49%) among the worst performing.

However, the survey questioned whether employers can cope with the impact of creating a more diverse talent pool and policies, with only two in five UK employees (42%) believing their organization is effective at building a diverse workforce.

The research, which is highlighted in CEB’s study ‘Creating Competitive Advantage Through Workforce Diversity’ also identified an aging workforce as a particular challenge to diversity in both the UK and US markets. It suggested there is a need for businesses in these markets to develop and implement diversity policies which address the needs of older employers in order to effectively create a more diverse workforce. 

These findings, however, contradict current UK economic trends which have seen employers favour older, more experienced employees ahead of younger new recruits. This is coupled with changes to the pension age which has increased over the past year and will continue to do so until 2020. 

The discrepancies between the data and current policy and trends indicate that employers are challenged with balancing the business need against the practical needs of an increasingly diverse and ageing workforce.

Chris Ellehuus, Managing Director CEB, comments:

“It is encouraging to see UK business lead the way in promoting policies for diversity but they now need to refocus on business solutions concerned with each diversity need. Organisations must recognise that not every need is a global problem – while an aging workforce is a UK challenge, attracting women to business is more prevalent in China – and as such, regional variations must be considered, particularly within global businesses.”

“The changes required to create a truly diverse and productive workforce need to extend beyond regulation and be placed within the core of the business, from the recruitment process to the overall business objectives.”

“Our members have also identified organisational barriers to building diversity which needs to be considered, one being a lack of common objectives between promoting diversity and the overall business objectives. They also suggest that there is often a lack of commitment from business leaders to address diversity issues which can severely hinder the creation of more diverse organisations”

“Our research, however, found that recruiting from a diverse talent pool increases an individual employee’s discretionary effort and their commitment to the business. As such, business leaders need to ensure that relevant local objectives form a part of the overall business plan in order to successfully create a diverse workforce that is mutually beneficial to both diversification and the overarching business needs.”