diversityUK employers could do more to increase diversity in the workplace, despite an increase in the representation of minority groups in the workforce in recent years, a new report suggests.

The latest government-backed Workplace Employment Relations Survey, conducted in 2011-12, was published today (January 23rd) and reveals that a growing proportion of employees are aged 50 or over, have some form of disability or hail from minority ethnic groups.

Indeed, workers aged 50 and over now account for 24 per cent of all employees, up from 20 per cent in 2004, while over the same period the proportion of workers who have a long-term health problem or disability has risen from one per cent to two per cent.

Meanwhile, those from ethnic minority backgrounds account for at least one tenth of employees in 21 per cent of workplaces, up from 17 per cent in 2004, and 51 per cent of the workforce is female.

However, the report also found that employment practices geared towards increasing diversity have changed little in recent years.

Just one third (32 per cent) of workplaces in 2011 had a formal strategic plan covering employee diversity which sets out objectives to be achieved, compared to 29 per cent in 2004 – a difference the report notes is not statistically significant.

Managers were also asked whether they monitored or reviewed recruitment and selection, promotion or pay rates for diversity characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, disability and age.

The report found that the vast majority of employers took none of these actions, and that the proportion of those that did remains roughly the same as in 2004.

Furthermore, very few employers were found to have special procedures in place to encourage applications from those from minority groups and, in fact, workplaces were less likely to have them in 2011 than in 2004, except in the case of procedures to attract people with disabilities.

The research involved interviewing 2,700 managers and 1,000 employee representatives, while more than 20,000 staff completed questionnaires.

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