How Brexit Could Impact Diversity in Recruitment

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United Kingdom’s (UK) historical departure from the European Union (EU) has resulted in many people worrying about their jobs. After all, freedom of movement is just one of the many perks of being an EU member.

But now that the UK has left the nest, British citizens and expats – both employers and employees – are starting to worry of the Brexit’s impact.

The reality is that even businesses without direct deals with EU countries, whether or not it’s an MNC or SME, will have to deal with and manage some of the Brexit domino effects.

In this article, we will focus on how Brexit can potentially affect diversity in recruitment and what it could mean for your business and jobs in the UK.

The Brexit Effect on Recruitment Diversity

A McKinsey study found that a company with a diverse workforce outperforms the non-diverse ones by 15 percent (gender diverse) and 35 percent (ethnically diverse).

According to diversity and inclusion expert, Stephen Frost, “If you don’t increase the gene pool, you restrict the ability to come up with new ideas and serve new markets. If the UK restricts business access to talent and to markets then it may be bad for business, especially entrepreneurs seeking new ideas or at a critical juncture in their evolution. Brexit, in the sense, may lower business’ propensity to even want to increase the gene pool or enter new markets in the first place.”

Frost further argued that UK’s departure from the EU simply “indulges our pre-existing unconscious biases” as people tend to recruit the ones who share their own image. In one article, he mentioned that a person’s natural tendency is to hire similar people because “they are the ones that ‘get it’.”

So, how important is having a diverse workforce among companies in the UK post-Brexit then? Do companies with such workforce have a competitive edge against organisations without it?

The Importance of Analysing Demographic and Immigration Trends

Simon Collins, KPMG UK chairman, said that there’s a need for an urgent and unbiased analysis of demographic and immigration trends affecting the UK.

This data can help inform organisations when and where they need to hire additional workers and skills, as businesses need a succession plan for the EU workers who might leave because of Brexit.

“Brexit would damage the diversity of our workforce and the widespread business and societal benefits this brings,” added Collins.

“Securing the best talent and delivering the highest quality isn’t about one group versus another, hence the important ‘and inclusion’ added to the diversity issue. We need both UK diversity and international diversity. We can achieve this only by pulling barriers down, not putting them back up.”

Establishing an Inclusive Corporate Culture Post-Brexit

“There is no doubt that race and hate crimes will continue to rise well after our government, institutions and businesses address the sharp political move to the right with a re-balancing of their own cultural design,” said Raj Tulsiani, founder of Diverse Leaders Network and CEO of Green Park.

Tulsiani added that organisations with brave CEOs and human resource development groups will not stray from the path of building “real inclusive cultures” that will help them protect not just their brands, but also their talent. This gives continued hope for people who want to find jobs in the UK despite the Brexit domino effect.

Benefits of Prioritizing Diversity

In an employer survey conducted by the HR Council in 2010, 73 percent of the respondents said that an “enhanced innovation and creativity is a benefit that could result from a more diverse workplace that could provide varying points of view and new perspectives.”

A wide-range of perspectives stemming from diversity helps in problem-solving and better decision-making. It also helps organisations benefit from a more vigorous critical evaluation aided by a wider spectrum of expertise and backgrounds.

“Diversity of talent and internal mobility is key to develop and retain inclusive leaders and to understand the wider global diversity piece. Alongside this, cultural agility and awareness is key to build cultural competent business. Without the access to EU – there may be a fear of disconnect and lack of learnings and practice across Europe,” said Green Park’s Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Amir Kabel.

While Brexit could definitely damage workplace diversity not just in the UK but also in EU countries, it is important for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and equality.

Businesses should strive to build and maintain a supportive culture, wherein employees have the assistance they need, both practical and emotional, during times of confusion, crisis, and uncertainty. In times of crisis, the workplace can be a huge source of emotional and practical support for many people.

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