Employer Branding

What’s the Biggest Barrier to Improving Diversity?

There is nothing than worse than being prevented from delivering your very best, no matter how good your intentions. Diversity is a hot topic and every organisation is striving to get it right. But what can possibly get in the way? Believe it or not there are a number of barriers which can stop you in your stride.

Thankfully our panel of diversity and inclusion experts are back to make sure any barriers in your way can be lifted.

Natasha Broomfield-Reid

The biggest barrier I face as a Consultant when trying to improve organisations’ diversity and inclusion is a lack of engagement and reluctance to change from senior leaders, who do not recognise the issue or need to address diversity and inclusion. There is only so much that a management level individual can achieve on their own without senior level buy in/engagement and securing a commitment throughout the organisation.

Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Head of Development at Equal Approach.

Caroline Stokes

I’ve lived in many countries – Singapore, Australia, UK, Ireland and now Canada, and I’m used to APAC, North American and European candidates. My team is small, but as I’ve hired people from various locations, cultures, beliefs, political beliefs and sexual orientation. I prefer hiring diverse talent as it stimulates me and my company goals.


Caroline Stokes, Executive Headhunter & Coach. Founder of FORWARD.

Nicola Crawford

A company might want to employ a diversity champion as part of the HR team to foster an inclusive culture and explain to the benefits not only internally but externally.

Barriers can be negativity, a sense of that doesn’t affect me and perhaps a sense of prejudice and stereotyping towards certain members of society – education is the way forward.

Nicola Crawford, CFIRM, Chair of the Institute of Risk Management.

Joanna Abeyie

Businesses still seeing diversity as an option rather than a vital ingredient for a successful business and innovative business.



Joanna Abeyie, Managing Director, Hyden, SThree.


Suki Sandhu

The barriers vary from company to company, but often lack of budget can be a perceived barrier. However, businesses do not realise that finding this talent isn’t actually hard or costly and can make businesses money. In fact, recent research from McKinsey shows that diverse businesses outperform their competitors by up to 35%.

Lack of strong and successful role models across all levels and especially at senior levels is another key barrier. There’s definitely more work to be done in this area, which is why we’ve launched the EMpower Ethnic Minority Leaders and Future Leaders Lists, presented by the Financial Times. These lists aim to create successful role models to show members of BAME community that race need not be a barrier to success.

Suki Sandhu, CEO and founder of Audeliss.

Charlotte Sweeney

There are many barriers to improving diversity. Many of them boil down into two key issues that are the root cause to many symptoms – one being the level of engagement of people across the company and how important they think this is to them. The second is how much diversity and inclusion embedded into the business, how much this is part of the ‘day job’ rather than being seen as an ‘add on’ or an ‘initiative’. The ‘STAR Framework’ in the book ‘Inclusive Leadership’ shares an overview on how to monitor where you are as well as what you need to focus on to improve the situation

Once the focus is on engagement and embedding and everyone understands the impact of their actions and behaviours on D&I in the workplace there would be much more traction across the business as well as more people thinking about how to drive change

Charlotte Sweeney, Managing Director of Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd.

Sarah Nahm

Diversity and inclusion came naturally to Lever in the early days. It was a lot of work, but we had a few passionate stakeholders, and achieved authentic buy-in from the team at large. Our biggest challenge now is to sustain energy around diversity and inclusion, and preserve it as a core cultural pillar as we grow. That requires us to hire well, so that we bring in waves of talent that align with Lever’s values, and avoid making one or two bad hires that can undo literally years of focused effort on something our organization holds dear.

Sarah Nahm, CEO, Lever.

By Ushma Mistry

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