Diversity and inclusion in 2020

“Diversity and inclusion” has been a hot topic of late for all the right reasons. In response to this year’s Black Lives Matter movement, we have seen an increased demand here and in the States for Diversity and Inclusion positions, as well as HR roles needing D&I strategy designed and implemented. Not only is CORE looking internally at what we can do to improve diversity, inclusion and tackle any unconscious bias, but we have also approached some of our trusted clients to discuss how they are managing their own inclusion strategies.

From businesses surveyed, we have had a mix of responses. Some companies have a solid structured strategy, others have plans that have been in place but been disrupted due to budget cuts, and there are then companies that have employed D&I managers, or are searching for HR professionals with a view to bring in D&I structure. A common theme by far is increased awareness and that all companies are doing something. Many businesses are focusing on training, often at hiring manager level, but also top to bottom within the company. At hiring level managers are often completing training on challenging unconscious bias, Equality Act, Disability and discrimination. 

This isn’t without challenges though. Some hiring managers have said that continued training throughout the business is mostly e-learning, and that at present this isn’t enough, others have said that they have struggled to introduce training without it feeling like they are ticking boxes. ‘it is essential to get the buy in from the senior levels.  From conversations with industry colleagues, this seems the hardest part of the process….D&I can be misconstrued as being “positive discrimination”; when in fact is about creating and sustaining the environment to allow everyone to succeed.’ It certainly needs to be supported from the very top of the company by getting included in the overall business strategy as an essential pillar of the business.

One of the major issues companies have highlighted is inclusion; how do you make your workforce feel like they matter? “Not recognising the needs and differences of a diverse workforce can alienate team members and seriously stifle productivity”. It is an interesting point in an age when well-being is a concept that has picked up such momentum. A popular response when discussing inclusion has been training and research, something that CORE has gladly taken on board. Advice from one client is to train the team on the value of a diverse work force, citing the work of Geert Hofstede and Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne experiment as useful reading material. One size does not fit all. There is also discussion around the need to ‘tell a story’. We often use people’s experiences and feelings as a benchmark of positive or negative experiences, but they need to be balanced with how inclusion impacts turnover, tenure and creating a more engaged workforce.

Our clients have offered great advice on targeting under-represented individuals, applicants that might not be using the usual recruitment channels, as well as what smaller companies might be able to do on a lower budget. One very interesting point was that if auditors asked more questions about diversity and inclusion practises, it would open up budgets to allow for more to be done in the area, and therefore allowing companies to highlight the need for D&I roles.

There is absolutely no doubt that this is a massive subject that many of our clients are discussing at length, internally, with us and with each other. We would like to thank those contributors at Sainsbury’s, Sodexo, The Brighton Pier Group, The People Factor, and Ardo UK for their precious time. Also thanks to those individuals that have proof read and made suggestions.

We would love to hear your comments on the subject, and of course please do get in touch if you are building your own D&I team.

I would personally like to thank all these amazing people for their contributions:


Date Published: 1st September 2020