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Diversity in the workplace improving, but gaps remain

Recent research offers a lens into the drivers, limitations, and tactics of workplace diversity and inclusion. A survey from XpertHR, a leading resource for HR professionals, findings that companies of all sizes demonstrate progress, yet continue to face challenges with the diversity of their workforces.

XpertHR’s Diversity in the Workplace Survey of more than 600 companies, nearly half of which have fewer than 250 employees, points to strong progress in the last five years. In particular, workplace diversity efforts since 2010 have focused on permitting employees to take unpaid leave to observe religious, cultural, and ethnic holidays; and increasing efforts to recruit and hire a diverse workforce, says Peggy Carter-Ward, author of the study.

However, some workplaces struggle with diversity more than others, largely due to geographic location and ability to recruit.

Respondents indicate the most challenging aspects of moving diversity and inclusion forward are time/commitment, benchmarking of diversity and inclusion efforts, and resistance to change of the employee community and culture.

Among key findings:

  • More than half of workplaces report that diversity has increased over the past five years.
  • Ethnic and racial diversity are traits most aggressively recruited, followed closely by veterans.
  • Geography plays a role in the diversity of two-thirds of workplaces, with one-fifth reporting being hurt and more than 4 in 10 being helped by their geographic locale.
  • The three diversity initiatives prioritized for the next five years are formation of affinity groups; instituting mentoring programs and/or career development programs for diverse employees; and a focus on supplier diversity.

The study highlights unintended biases that often hamper diversity efforts, such as the phenomenon of “like hiring like” and potentially erroneous assumptions about details of the job requirements or an applicant’s intrinsic capabilities.

“Yet, the benefits of a well-rounded and diverse workforce are well documented,” Carter-Ward points out, noting that a workplace isn’t optimized for talent if diversity isn’t embraced and institutionalized.

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