Will diversity and inclusion fall down business agendas in 2024?

by Isabel Jackson

One in six (17 per cent) HR directors and CEOs said their business had introduced or invested in an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy in the past year, new research by Barnett Waddingham found.

However, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of the 300 HR directors and C-suite professionals surveyed said employee demands for an EDI strategy were a major concern for their business.

Employers said that growing business costs have caused them to reduce their investment in EDI, with the vast majority (83 per cent) citing operational costs as a factor.

A further 80 per cent said they were impacted by supply chain costs and 79 per cent were affected by demands for higher pay from employees.

Ash Ahmad, founder and CEO of EDI consultancy Changing Mindsets, told People Management: “When pressures of business costs grow for organisations, EDI is often the first area of the business that experiences cuts in funding or no longer becomes a top priority.

“Unfortunately, with the recent backlash that the EDI space has been facing, with comments from individuals such as Elon Musk saying EDI must die, organisations no longer associating C-suite leader’s bonuses with EDI efforts, it gives those that have been resistant to EDI or those that have been carrying out performance initiatives the permission to also scrap their EDI efforts.”

Ahmad continued: “Although in the coming year we may see a dip in organisations’ EDI efforts, I believe it will mostly come from those organisations that didn’t really prioritise it in the first place and saw it as a tick-box exercise.”

Jummy Okoya, interim dean, office for institutional equity at the University of East London, told People Management: “My prediction for EDI in the coming year is that those organisations which maintain a performative stance in terms of their EDI commitment will start to feel the pinch, [both] financially and through talent exodus…

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