By Ryan Sullivan, Global Talent Acquisition Manager and D&I Champion at Gravitas Recruitment Group.

“When we talk about Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace, the statistics are alarming. In the UK, the employment rate is only 62.8% for ethnic minorities. On top of that, ethnic minority employees hold only 1 in 16 top management positions in the country. With other minorities, the scene is similar: Autistic adults have the lowest employment rate among disabled people in the UK, with an unemployment rate of 78%; the gender pay gap in the UK is still quite high with women earning on average 14.9% less than men; in the LGBTQ+ community, 35% have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination, and 18% of trans people don’t feel able to wear work attire representing their gender expression.

Luckily, the conversations around Diversity and Inclusion are becoming more and more common every day. Many times, however, these topics seem to be part of an awareness month agenda and hardly part of a bigger change. But what’s the reason for that?

Companies often fail when they look at Diversity by itself, ensuring representation but missing inclusion. Although both concepts are often used together, they have different meanings: the first aims for representation, though the second ensures people are welcome and valued in the workplace.

Whereas it’s fundamental to create a diverse workforce, companies need to ensure those employees from different backgrounds, genders, ages and sexual orientations are respected, heard and trusted internally. Once they have strong voices in the workplace, they can become allies in the company, and so D&I conversations will move on to the next level.

But if we’re talking about Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace, we need to start with the Recruitment Industry. This means agencies should ensure their internal environment is diverse, representative and inclusive first, to facilitate them passing this mentality on to their clients and candidates.

Recruitment is a powerful sector as it can shape and change different industries – from technology to education, and is all about human interaction and conversations, be it from a candidate-recruiter or a client-recruiter perspective. Recruiters have the power to educate and inform candidates and companies about what’s going on and what they should be focusing on.

According to a study done by Essity, with 10,000 workers representing thousands of companies from 10 countries, the UK falls behind countries like  Mexico, Ireland, Spain and the United States when it comes to providing for a diverse workforce – with employees less able to progress through the ranks on a fair and non-discriminatory basis.

However,  the spectrum for the next few years is very favourable. The new generation entering the market, soon to take on leadership roles, bring a strong sense of purpose behind their careers. Their approaches to creating a social impact will be key to making companies shift their mentalities.

At Gravitas, we have our own internal Diversity and Inclusion committee, and we have many initiatives to ensure D&I conversations are effectively making an impact. We offer L&D training sessions for everyone coming into the business, vary the media used to attract applicants (i.e. not just the written word), ensure CV submissions are anonymised and our interviews look at candidates’ attitudes and motivation, and not only a set of skills or experience.

This way, we open doors for people from different backgrounds, who then grow internally and create a diverse and inclusive ecosystem. We realise we have a long way to go, and we want to make sure that these conversations continue every single day of the year and not just during an awareness month.

We are one of the founders of Programme One, created in 2021, whose focus is to give more opportunities for Black people in the Recruitment sector.  However, our work in terms of D&I is across the board – we work to tackle gaps – be it of age, gender or culture – and are constantly reviewing processes and formulas, as the D&I conversation requires an ongoing approach. We encourage other companies to do the same.”