Report reveals strong public support for EDI initiatives

Report reveals strong public support for EDI initiatives
Report reveals strong public support for EDI initiatives
Britons are five times more likely to say Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives are welcome rather than not, finds new research from UCL, More in Common and University of Oxford.

Following a major cross-party policy roundtable hosted at UCL Policy Lab, the report Finding a Balance, shows that EDI initiatives command greater public support when they are rooted in people’s everyday experiences.

The initiative brought together researchers, policymakers, business leaders and think tank experts to explore how we might build a shared vision of EDI in an age of political polarisation. 

Commenting in the report, Conservative peer and former Secretary of State for Education, Baroness Morgan, said: "What’s too often lost in the polarised debates we sometimes see about equality issues - is that the public are fundamentally kind and decent....  By focusing on real world stories and approaches that are relevant to people’s jobs and daily experiences EDI can have a far greater impact than simply engaging in more abstract rows that dominate column inches and social media but have very little relevance to people’s everyday."

Report contributor, Professor Imran Rasul, Department of Economics and Research Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies, says there continues to be a need to understand and develop effective tools for tackling inequalities and urges policymakers to use the report to help better understand and develop effective EDI tools and strategies.

"We currently do not know enough about what works and how EDI’s contribution might best be made," he said.

" By focusing on how the public understands EDI and when they think it goes well or badly, this report marks an important first step in discovering how EDI might help us achieve the change we need to see. "

As part of the research process, More in Common polled more than 6,000 people and involved focus groups across the country, found that Britons are more than five times as likely to welcome EDI initiatives than be concerned by them - and that the public - across ideological lines - are more likely than not to think that they personally benefit from EDI initiatives.

UCL Policy Lab Director Marc Stears, who led the roundtable and co-authored the report, made clear the opportunity for consensus.

" When institutions root equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives in people’s ordinary lives and everyday experiences, rather than in abstract debates, they can be strong, popular and sustainable," he said.

"This is a vital lesson that should help sustain EDI in an era of culture wars and political polarisation."

The report sets out a series of recommendations based on the research on how to strengthen and build greater support for EDI work. Those recommendations include:
  • Tailoring EDI activities specifically to the employer or institution rather than using general "off the shelf" activities
  • Focusing on everyday experiences people have of inclusion or exclusion rather than debating abstract and highly contested concepts
  • Building a culture of curiosity and generosity at work - not one of personal criticism

Professor Alison Koslowski, UCL Pro-Provost (Equity & Inclusion), underlined the need for innovation in EDI and the important role the report might play in reshaping the direction of EDI strategies.

"This report importantly demonstrates people’s willingness to tackle entrenched inequalities and exclusions in workplaces right across the country.

"It also reminds those of us responsible for developing the next generation of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies of the importance of doing so in a way that resonates with the diversity of values and interests found across our communities. "

The full report can be read here: Finding a Balance


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