A representative survey of more than 1,000 senior decision-makers in UK SMEs has concluded that SMEs in the IT tech sector are 'flagbearers for diversity'. The survey was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of specialist bank Aldermore Group.
69 per cent of IT tech SMEs believe that they have a diverse workforce, and 45 per cent say that they want to focus on improving diversity over the next 12 months. The authors list several reasons why a workforce might be considered 'diverse', such as having a wide employee age range (57 per cent); an ethnically diverse employee base (57 per cent); employing diversity initiatives (42 per cent); or actively working to create an inclusive environment for LGBT employees (39 per cent). 34 per cent of IT SMEs were found to employ more women than men.
Diversity also covers disabilities, and 35 per cent of respondents said that they were willing to make adjustments to ensure that disabled employees were not at a disadvantage.
An unexpected advantage of increasing diversity at the workplace was uncovered by the research; 55 per cent of IT SMEs said that they were more likely to do business with another company that is known for its inclusive employment strategies.
The findings were not all positive for diversity campaigners. 19 per cent of IT SMEs said that they had 'no intention' of working to become more diverse over the next 12 months, and 17 per cent said that increasing diversity was a low priority. Quite reasonably, some SME leaders said that candidates in the IT sector do not tend to come from a diverse range of backgrounds (24 per cent); that they find it difficult to find such candidates for senior jobs (20 per cent); and that they struggle to attract a diverse range of potential candidates (13 per cent).
Carl D'Ammassa, group managing girector of business finance at Aldermore, said: "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."
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