Kemi Badenoch: Diversity initiatives can be ineffective and counterproductive

The Business Secretary said diversity and inclusion initiatives have been shown to be “ineffective and counterproductive”.

The independent Inclusion at Work Panel, appointed by Kemi Badenoch, spoke to more than 100 people in 55 organisations and reviewed the latest research into how employers make decisions about diversity and inclusion policies and practices in the UK.

In a report published on Wednesday, the panel said many employers want “to do the right thing”, but are introducing measures without the support of evidence.

“The new report shows that, while millions are being spent on these initiatives, many popular EDI practices – such as diversity training – have little to no tangible impact in increasing diversity or reducing prejudice,” Ms Badenoch said.

“In fact, many practices have not only been proven to be ineffective, they have also been counterproductive.

“Performative gestures such as compulsory pronouns and rainbow lanyards are often a sign that organisations are struggling to demonstrate how they are being inclusive.”

Ms Badenoch added that some employers have been found to “inadvertently” break the law by censoring beliefs or discriminating against groups in favour of others.

“Sadly, even a prestigious and respected institution such as the Royal Air Force (RAF) was recently found to have discriminated against white men in trying to improve diversity,” she added.

“No group should ever be worse off because of companies’ diversity policies – whether that be black women, or white men.”

The panel, which included private and public sector leaders, released a framework for employers and set out recommendations for the Government.

The report comes as part of wider cross-government plans to outline steps to tackle unjust disparities, promote equality of opportunity and encourage aspiration.

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