Workforce diversity risks ‘going backwards’ | woman at work

Workforce diversity risks ‘going backwards’



Workplace diversity could go backwards if urgent action is not taken, CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn has warned, adding that businesses should not allow the issue to slip down the agenda in the face of competing priorities.

Speaking at a recent event sponsored by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Fairbairn said the UK was heading towards a “perfect storm” of changes in demographics and technology and noted that diversity was one of the most “defining issues” of our age, with talent being the “number one worry” for UK firms.

Fairbairn pointed to the Davies review, which increased the proportion of women at board level from one in seven to one in three – but in the last year this has fallen back to one in four.Meanwhile, in 2015, there were 18 women chief executives in the FTSE 350 compared with just 16 today.

“I worry that progress in other areas may reverse if economic headwinds grow,” Fairbairn said. “In tougher times, a search for experience might well end up being a search in a traditional pool, closing the door on greater inclusion.

“Only committed leadership can win against this and that is why it matters so much.” Her comments follow research from the BCG revealing that, despite “significant investment” in gender diversity measures, the UK remained at a “tipping point” as many organisations were unaware which diversity interventions were the most effective.

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