Diversity and HR (2): What impact does HR have on the diversity agenda?

DiversityandHRin2013Only around one in four UK employers gives the HR team responsibility for the diversity agenda, XpertHR Benchmarking research finds. But those that do report a clear impact from HR’s involvement in diversity issues.

Nearly all employers have a diversity agenda in place in 2013, XpertHR survey finds
Diversity is firmly on the organisational agenda for UK employers in 2013:

These are among the key findings of the 2013 XpertHR Benchmarking survey of equality and diversity in the workplace. The survey is based on responses from 153 organisations with a combined workforce of 489,815 employees.

The survey also looks in detail at HR’s contribution to the diversity agenda.

Who takes responsibility for the diversity agenda?
XHRBMDiversityResponsibility2013When asked which party is responsible for the diversity agenda:

  • More than half (52.3%) of respondents said responsibility for diversity is shared by all employees.
  • One in four (26.1%) places responsibility for the diversity agenda with HR, and one in five (22.2%) with the HR director.

What impact do diversity initiatives have?
When asked about the impact of efforts to improve or maintain workplace diversity, the three most cited areas across the whole sample of UK employers surveyed by XpertHR were:

  • Compliance with relevant legislation achieved (cited by 55.6%).
  • More engaged employees (33.8%).
  • Improved organisational image as ethical employer (32.4%).

But this picture changes markedly at organisations where the HR team takes responsibility for the diversity agenda, with a more inclusive recruitment process moving up the list:

  • Legislative compliance achieved (59.5%)
  • More inclusive recruitment process achieved (35.1%)
  • More engaged employees (32.4%)

How successful are workplace diversity initiatives?
The survey suggests that HR’s contribution to the success of the organisational diversity agenda is more mixed.

When asked about their organisation’s success in achieving its diversity goals, nearly three-quarters of respondents (73.9%) said that it had been fairly successful, while more than one in eight (13.1%) said it had been very successful.

Interestingly, organisations at which the HR team takes responsibility for the diversity agenda were significantly less likely to say that they had been very successful in achieving their equality/ diversity goals.

But they were also slightly more likely to report fairly successful.

What impact does HR have on the diversity agenda? Have your say!
How does this square with your own experience of the impact of HR on the organisational diversity agenda? I’d love to hear from you – please get in touch and let me know!

Diversity resources from XpertHR:

Diversity and HR: The Storify 
Keep track of the current debate on diversity and HR among the global HR community via the following Storify story:

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2 Responses to Diversity and HR (2): What impact does HR have on the diversity agenda?

  1. Helen Mortimore 22 November 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Interesting data -is the problem, with practice as well as research, that we focus on too heavily on recruitment? We recruit a diverse employee constituent, and then what? If we expect our recruits to ‘fit in’ with our organisational culture and dominant workplace norms, then aren’t we failing both in terms of the business case and the social justice case?

    • Michael Carty
      Michael Carty 22 November 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to post a comment here, Helen – and for raising such interesting questions about whether organisations go far enough in ensuring that a true commitment to diversity is embedded into “organisational culture and dominant workplace norms.”

      I’d like to expand your question out to other readers:

      -Do you agree with Helen’s contention that recruiting “a diverse employee constituent” represents only the first step toward a truly diverse workplace?
      - And if so, what should employers be doing differently? And what should HR’s contribution be?

      Please get in touch and share your views – I’d love to hear from you!

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