Entitled Time for Change, the report found that a third (33%) of disabled workers still feel unable to take advantage of some opportunities at work because of a lack of accessibility, and many struggle to find a sense of belonging in the workplace, with over a third (34%) feeling they need to hide a part of themselves in order to fit in.
However, the survey of more than 1,500 workers from a range of industries also found that the pandemic has had some positive impact for those with disabilities.
Two fifths (40%) of disabled workers say the nation’s shift to remote working models has an increased the number of job roles and organisations that feel more accessible to them. A similar proportion (41%) believe the increase in working from home will have a positive impact on job opportunities.
Over half (57%) believe that events this year have made businesses realise that it isn’t necessary to have all employees in the same building at the same time, while a similar proportion (56%) think businesses have realised many tasks can be performed effectively from home.
Despite this, over a quarter (25%) of disabled workers agree that the cancellation of the Paralympics due to the pandemic will have a negative impact on employment opportunities for disabled people.
This is because, as a global event that is heavily publicised in the world’s media, the tournament would normally shine a spotlight on the disabled community and its achievements and remind the world to see those with disabilities for all that they can be.
Gender bias and discrimination in the workplace
Elsewhere in the report, findings also show that women are twice as likely to be made to feel like their opinion doesn’t matter at work, compared to their male counterparts (38% women vs 21% men).
What’s more, they are doubly as likely to feel like they need to work harder than male colleagues to prove themselves (30% vs 18%) and are more likely to feel they have been denied the same opportunities as colleagues of the opposite sex (27% vs 19%).
In addition, despite the #MeToo movement, women still experience unprofessional jokes at work; almost a third (30%) reported that male colleagues have made seemingly harmless jokes that they found inappropriate and made them feel excluded.
COVID delays diversity efforts
COVID-19 has played a part when it comes to legislation around gender bias too, as in March 2020 the Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission suspended the enforcement of the Gender Pay Gap Report, meaning that no organisation is required to report data on its gender pay gaps, avoiding any subsequent court action.
A third of all workers (32%) believe this will have a negative impact on equal working opportunities between men and women in the UK, with this percentage rising to 36% of women.
In fact, over a third of all workers (34%) believe COVID-19 has delayed efforts to improve diversity, inclusion and belonging in their company.
More than two fifths (43%) believe their organisation could be doing more to improve in this area and that while over half (57%) believe their organisation was taking steps to improve diversity before the pandemic, one in ten (10%) now believe there has been a focal shift away from diversity since the pandemic began.
Over a quarter of both black and mixed race (27%) and disabled workers (25%) believe that people from a BAME background or those with a disability have been more greatly impacted by the pandemic.
Nearly a fifth (18%) of all respondents thought that the pandemic has had a negative impact on job opportunities for minority candidates, rising to a third (31%) of those from black or mixed race backgrounds and a quarter (25%) of those with a disability.
Of those, over half (59%) believed that an increase in competition for available roles meant minority candidates were more likely to be overlooked in the application process. More than a quarter (28%) agreed that organisations are now less focused on ensuring their workforce is diverse, so are less likely to interview minority candidates.
Time for Change delves into the state of play of diversity, inclusion and belonging among the UK workforce. Alongside brand new data, it features interviews and advice from Emma Slade Edmondson, Strategic Creative Director and co-host of podcast, Mixed Up, which explores mixed heritage identities and race.
Paul Wolfe, head of HR at the global job site Indeed, said:
“Events of 2020 have shone a spotlight on the importance of diversity, inclusion and belonging and the need to remove barriers to create more equal workplaces and opportunities for all. While our research shows encouraging signs that employers are paying attention to these issues, the reality is that some have pulled up the handbrake on progression.
“We know that people and companies thrive when employees feel they truly belong and to create that culture employers need to take a holistic approach. This involves identifying conscious and unconscious biases that exist in hiring processes as well as recognising the importance of educating hiring managers and leaders on the benefits of a diverse workforce.
“Thinking more about how to recruit great talent with a diversity of skills greatly increases the chances of creating a workplace that benefits individuals and all of society.”
LaFawn Davis, VP of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Indeed, said:
“Employers are rethinking their attitudes and behaviours to make workplaces the best they can be and for that to happen people need to feel that they belong. That’s difficult during a global pandemic when millions more people are working remotely but there are steps leaders and managers can take to embrace and nurture diverse talent.
“Building that culture starts from the top and should focus on bringing a greater sense of community to the organisation. That involves creating plans that involve all and are reflective of the entire workforce and the barriers experienced by different populations. Human decency and understanding other individual’s circumstances also go a long way to truly making someone feel like they belong.
“While our research shows that in many cases this is already happening, the deficit between words and actions suggests there is still some way to go before all employees feel valued and understood.”
To download the report, visit https://bit.ly/indeedtimeforchange