Time to go beyond the buzzwords

While equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives are increasingly commonplace, there is growing scepticism among professionals that these have now become mere ‘tick-box’ exercises bringing few tangible improvements.

The worry is that as a result support for EDI efforts seems to be on the wane.

Research by the Young Foundation, which included ACCA, CIPFA, and ICAS among the 12 professional bodies who took part, found that navigating professional life clearly comes with challenges for the vast majority of professionals from minority backgrounds. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they had experienced barriers to progression in their careers, and felt they had experienced discriminatory or exclusionary behaviour in the workplace.

In the report ‘Beyond the buzzwords’, author Alice Bell said the findings contradict claims that professional experiences are rooted in a meritocracy. Researchers found access and entry routes into many professions remain challenging for people from minority backgrounds.

The implications of this uncomfortable reality must be taken seriously, said Bell, as more than half (53%) of professionals surveyed say they have considered leaving their employer or profession because of issues related to EDI. Most commonly, this is because they feel overlooked or undervalued, with further concerns around progression, management, workload, pay and culture. They also feel excluded from informal networks.