IoD Policy recommendations for creating more diverse workforces

The Institute of Directors has today launched a new policy paper ‘The Future of Business: harnessing diverse talent for success’. The paper makes a series of recommendations to government to bring about the most favourable conditions for businesses and directors to flourish, with specific reference to gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.

Developed by an IoD Commission of senior business leaders and experts in the field, the paper makes a number of policy recommendations to government, and other bodies, including:

  1. Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and disability workforce reporting for employers with 250 or more staff.
  2. Provide up-to-date guidance for business – tailored to businesses of different sizes and including how to implement fair AI systems for recruitment – on inclusive recruitment.
  3. Introduce a public reporting process and targets on the representation of LGBT and disabled individuals on the boards of FTSE 350 companies, following the success of the Hampton Alexander and Parker reviews.
  4. Make the right to request flexible working a day one employment right.
  5. Make equity of opportunity in the workplace a key policy priority. As part of this, add equity of opportunity in the workplace as a specific responsibility within an existing Ministerial portfolio in BEIS, with a requirement to report annually to Parliament on progress against KPIs.

Commenting on the launch of the paper, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“At a time when many businesses are struggling to recruit staff due to skills shortages and record low unemployment, there has never been a more important time for business to tap into diverse talent.

“Inclusive workplaces are more productive and resilient, which is key at this time of economic uncertainty. Diversity of thought leads to better innovation, which is key for economic growth and will also be critical in ensuring the UK meets the government’s target of bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.”

Lord [Kevin] Shinkwin, who chaired the Commission, commented:

“I am excited by businesses’ increasing appetite to harness diverse talent in the knowledge that their future success depends on it. Politicians of all parties should take note. Whatever the rhetoric, the reality is clear: dismissing ED&I as somehow part of the woke agenda is to turn your face against equality of opportunity. Businesses know that that is bad for business. The recommendations in this White Paper have been developed by business for business. They deserve to be supported.”

You can download the full paper, ‘The Future of Business: harnessing diverse talent for success: recommendations for government’, here.

Stakeholder Reaction:

Rt Hon Charles Clarke, formerly Education and Home Secretary said:

“The Institute of Directors deserves credit for publishing these White Papers, for businesses themselves and for government. They outline the steps which should be taken to harness diverse talents for success and so to promote genuine inclusivity in business. Progress in this field is important both for the cohesion of society and for economic success.”

Lord [William] Hague of Richmond, Architect of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, commented:

“More than a quarter of a century after we passed the Disability Discrimination Act, the task of ensuring equal opportunities at work is still not complete. This report rightly draws attention to issues still to be addressed and should make us think about how to tackle them.”

Baroness Brinton, Liberal Democrat President 2015-2019, said:

“As a disabled woman and former President of the Liberal Democrats, I am still surprised at how few disabled senior leaders there are in either business and in politics. This Paper provides the route map to change this, and highlights that businesses that do use the diverse talents of their people will also strengthen their organisation.”

The Commission has also published practical guidance for employers on how to create working environments in which all talent can thrive and contribute to business bottom-line and growth. You can download the full paper, ‘The Future of Business: harnessing diverse talent for success: Practical guidance for employers’, here.

About the Commission

Led by Lord Shinkwin, who has made equality of opportunity his key focus since entering the House of Lords in 2015 and has lived experience of severe disability, the Commission was guided by a panel of eleven senior business leaders and experts.

The future of business: harnessing diverse talent for success’, list of Commissioners:

  • Kevin, Lord Shinkwin – Chair of the Commission and member of the House of Lords
  • Dr Roger Barker – Director of Policy and Corporate Governance, IoD
  • Stephanie Boyce – Immediate Past President, the Law Society of England and Wales
  • Virginia Clegg – Senior Partner, DAC Beachcroft
  • Paul Donovan – Chief Economist, UBS Global Wealth Management
  • David Forbes-Nixon OBE – Founder and former CEO of Alcentra and Founder and Executive Chair, DFN Charitable Foundation and DFN Project SEARCH
  • Mike Howells – President, Workforce Skills, Pearson
  • Steve Ingham CBE – CEO, PageGroup
  • Matthew Layton – former Global Managing Partner, Clifford Chance
  • Helena, Baroness Morrissey DBE – Chair, The Diversity Project
  • Dr Zara Nanu – Chief Executive, Gapsquare
  • Theresa Shearer FRSE – CEO, ENABLE

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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