UK SMEs are flag bearers for diversity

Over half of all UK SMEs said they have a diverse workforce, with a further third stating that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus over the next 12 months.

The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK, found that there are a number of reasons they would describe their organisation as diverse. This includes an employee base with a wide age range, an ethnically diverse make up and a good female to male ratio. Over two fifths also have female employees at a senior level and more than a third declared they were open to making adjustments for disabled employees and ensured an inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

Moreover, 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.

Despite this positive picture, a quarter of small and medium sized businesses say they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and a further 22 per cent said that increasing diversity was a low priority for them. This could be because their workforce is too small to be considered diverse, but, at the same time, some SME leaders also confessed that they were also more likely to employ someone that is similar to their existing workforce, that candidates in their sector tended not to come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and that they tended not to attract a diverse range of potential employees.

Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director, Business Finance at Aldermore, who published the The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes, 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. “