How to stop D&I being de-prioritised as a result of Covid

We recently conducted some research as part of our Talent Acquisition benchmark programme which suggested that employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts were being de-prioritised as a result of the challenges of dealing with the Covid pandemic.

To explore this in more detail we hosted an expert panel on a webinar last week to discuss what employers can do to ensure that D&I remains fully embedded in their strategy.

Of course, this was also as the issue of racial inequality and its progression into a wider discussion about diversity and inclusion was propelled not just to the top of the corporate agenda, but the wider news agenda.

Watch the vlog here:


The killing of George Floyd was an obscenity, and, for many people, what made it even worse was the way in which his colleagues did nothing. How does an organisational culture become so rotten that someone can literally squeeze the life out of another human being whilst their co-workers do nothing?

The hideous irony is that the motto of the Minneapolis police department is ‘to Protect with Courage, To Serve with Compassion!” Which demonstrates beyond all doubt that a mission statement on its own is utterly meaningless. However in a perverse way, there is hope.

The reason I say that is because I think it is actually far harder to create a truly callous culture than it is to create one that is genuinely compassionate.

And this intersects with my colleagues and me in two ways.

First of all, I believe that anyone who has any kind of platform has a duty to speak up and not remain silent and, secondly, one of the most important aspects of what we do as a business is promote practical  steps that our network can take improve their own organisational cultures and to help employers  attract and keep the people they need.

And Diversity and inclusion has always been an integral part of that. Our webinar brought together some of the UK’s leading practitioners in this area to share their views and the summary of the findings is in the link in this post. But there were three key points I wanted to highlight:

First of all, protected groups are more likely to be in the roles and levels that are most affected by job cuts so employers need to think very carefully about what steps they can take to mitigate this.

Secondly, one of the clearest trends that has shown up in our benchmark programme for the last two years is that employers rank the achievement of D&I objectives as a key element of their talent strategy.

However, when asked how much the achievement of  these objectives is built into their reward systems  – either through financial or career development and advancement rewards – there seems to be a rather big gap. So that is certainly something that needs to be looked at.

One other point that came up in our webinar is that there was very little support for unconscious bias training. All of our panellists were unconvinced by its utility and it was suggested that a much more effective solution is to make cultural intelligence and inclusive leadership a measurable part of a leader’s performance.

Specifically, this involves identifying bias based behaviours and processes and then reviewing  employee experiences such as hiring, succession planning, promotion and reward to ensure they are removed.  

In summary,  if your D&I strategy is embedded in your wider business strategy it’s far more likely to withstand the current challenges and a key element of ensuring it is embedded,  is for leaders to be relentless about discussing it.

We’ll be re-visiting the ideas about practical points employers can take in another webinar soon but in the meantime the link to the report is in the post as is the link to our benchmark programme where, amongst other things, you can assess how your own D&I resourcing efforts compare to your sector as well as the market more widely.

TALiNT Partners D&I Report:

TALiNT Benchmark Programme:

Register for our follow up D&I Webinar.

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