A report which surveyed over 1,000 senior business decision makers across the UK has revealed that 53% of all UK small businesses (SMEs) said they have a diverse workforce.
A further third stated that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus for them over the next 12 months.
The survey, conducted by Aldermore entitled The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes discovered a variety of reasons why an organisation might describe itself as diverse. These included an employee base with a wide age range, an ethnically diverse make up and a good female to male ratio.
More than a third stated that they were willing to make changes for disabled employees and facilitate an inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers at 36% and 35% respectively. Over two fifths also have female employees at a senior level.
These results are reflected in the likelihood that a business would want to work with a particular company in the future. Nearly two fifths of UK SMEs admit to being much more likely to do business with a supplier, partner or provider that is well known for its inclusive employment strategies.
Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director of Business Finance at Aldermore, said: “It is heartening that so many UK small and medium-sized business owners describe their workforce as diverse. However, you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses.”
London came out on top as the most diverse region in the UK. D’Ammassa commented on this, stating: “According to the last census, London is the most diverse region in the UK so it is to be expected that the majority of small and medium-sized business owners in the capital describe their workforce as diverse."
Although this is a positive and progressive start, the future doesn’t look as promising with a quarter of small and medium sized businesses say they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year.
Just 22% said that increasing diversity was a low priority, granted in some cases this could be because their workforce is too small to be considered diverse. But 24% of SME leaders confessed that they were also more likely to employ someone similar to their existing workforce.
These companies claim that candidates in their sector tend not to come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and that they do not attract a diverse range of potential employees.