Analysts in the UK and USA may conclude that government support of the diversity and inclusion agenda has produced D&I fatigue in business (as highlighted in this HR article) as well as resentment in the “native” electorates that contributed to the election of Trump and to the Brexit leave vote.
The logical expectation was that government would go cool on these issues and that equality reformers would be thrown onto the defensive. But far from it. The speech by Mrs May today on race disparity and all her previous comments, going right back to her famous speech in 2002 worrying that the Conservative Party was seen as “the nasty party” and would lose the youth and minority vote, show that the equality and diversity agenda is here to stay. This is still the party that pushed through same sex marriage against much complaint among traditional conservative supporters. That is not to say that existing D&I approaches will not be challenged. In fact much of this new data will show that many existing programmes are not achieving their objectives.
David Cameron changed the rules on pay and equality from following narrowly defined employment and pay laws to a transparency agenda that has transformed the debate inside many companies. It produced a mirror to themselves that is proving uncomfortable, which may explain why so many of the 9000 companies that have to publish their gender pay gap figures are delaying reporting until they see how others have handled the reputation issues. The BBC pay row in the summer has worried many, whilst Helen Rose of the TSB has shown how to take it head on.
The next steps of publishing wider details of the inequality in access to services like health, opportunities like university places, treatment by the police of young black men, which particularly horrified Mrs May as Home Secretary, are opening up huge new challenges for services and business – and not just HR.
Gender Pay Reporting is test driving our organisational capacity to research, publish and tackle inequality at all levels.
If you connect this published data to the little noticed Social Value Act of 2012 which guides the rules for public, and increasingly private sector procurement and supply chain contract awards and planning permissions, the jigsaw pieces of a very powerful new dynamic on equality, diversity and inclusion begin to fall into place.
Diversity and Inclusion is not going away but it is going to change and many previous approaches may well be found wanting.
The Equality Hub