Few organisations have diversity, equality and inclusion budgets

UK employers are strongly committed to principles of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) – but this commitment is not always backed up with a dedicated budget, new research by  XpertHR reveals.

DEI is a core part of the HR agenda in 2022, with 96% of organisations undertaking initiatives over the coming 12 months and 84% having a strategy in place or planning to introduce one. However, only 38% of organisations allocate or plan to allocate a budget specifically for DEI initiatives. Of these, just 36% consider their current or planned DEI budget sufficient.

The high costs associated with DEI training and other activities are a commonly cited factor for those who think their DEI budget is set too low. Among the minority of survey respondents giving details of the typical DEI budget allocation, around half were set at £50 or less per employee per year.

The main areas of focus for DEI activities over the coming 12 months are mental health (78%) and race/ethnicity (72%). These are followed by disability, gender and LGBTQ+, each mentioned by just over 60%.

The most popular current and planned actions are raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues and associated resources (90%), embedding DEI into the recruitment processes (89%), and raising awareness of unconscious bias (76%).

The most common ways employers are integrating DEI into the recruitment process are by ensuring there is more than one person on every interview panel (75%) and making selection decisions against an objective measure of the candidate’s ability and potential (72%).

Michael Carty, benchmarking editor at XpertHR, comments: “UK employers do not lack intent when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion – but too many lack the necessary budgetary resource to deliver in full on their DEI agenda. This means that ambitions for DEI initiatives, particularly for training, often outstrip the financial resources available.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

“DEI is such an important issue on so many levels. Employers’ efforts to provide training and other initiatives can make a key difference to both employee experience and organisational reputation. How HR handles DEI can be a key differentiator for retaining current employees and attracting new ones.”

Zara Nanu MBE, CEO and founder of Gapsquare, part of XpertHR, comments: “It is promising that so many organisations have diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives planned for the next 12 months. Global CHROs are making DEI a key area of focus, and it’s important executives secure the right level of investment for this agenda.

“Relevant investment and prioritisation will ensure organisations are not undertaking DEI initiatives as just a tick box exercise. Investing resources, as well as more time and thought into DEI strategies, will help organisations create tangible differences in the workplace.”

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024