‘The Equality Act 201 is clear about the legal obligation to protect against discrimination. Discrimination can be against a person’s sex, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief, race or age’.
Diversity and Inclusion has been around for a very long time. As early as the mid-sixties, diversity training developed in the US in the corporate arena. Initially, this was compliance orientated but, over the years, it became much more positive in the belief that diversity could enhance business performance. The UK and Europe followed the US; ‘diversity’ broadened from gender to ethnicity and sexual orientation and major multi-nationals began to appoint ‘Directors of Diversity and Inclusion’, particularly in the early 2000’s.
After the ‘Financial Crash’, ‘diversity’ no longer seemed such a priority. Fortunately, in recent years, prompted in some part by evolving anti-discrimination legislation, it is again at the forefront of business thinking in recognising the value diversity can bring to business. And ‘diversity’ no longer means gender, ethnicity and the earlier definition of sexual orientation. Increasingly, organisations are adopting policies for the LGBTI community and many have special interest groups to encourage and support them. There are people who arguably, are still neglected: those with mental health problems and with disabilities.
In our experience, the initial impact on Executive Search from the increased focus on D&I, was that clients wanted “diverse” shortlists with initial ‘demands’ being highly gender related. Over the last couple of years, however, we have observed progressive and successful organisations being extremely open and innovative in their approach to the market. They have actively considered a broad a candidate base as possible and have challenged their own ‘traditional’ thinking around specific requirements for a role. Previously applied generic terms such as “young, thrusting and dynamic with potential”, are being complemented with “seasoned, mature and experienced”; sixty really has proved to be the new forty for a number of successful businesses. Conversations around religion, disability and race are now firmly on the agenda.
In 2017 we will be continuing with our research around D&I, and look forward to sharing with you further findings and insights into the impact of changing D&I demands on the corporate organisation.