Everyone Economy

CMI's plan for sharing work, opportunity and success

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of employees
Feel they have been overlooked for workplace opportunities because of their identity
of employees
Have witnessed or experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace
6.9 million
UK employees
Felt discriminated against because of their background in the workplace

The purpose of the Everyone Economy

To inform our research for the Everyone Economy Report, we gathered fresh evidence from CMI’s global membership community of managers and leaders; from our specially convened 75th Anniversary Advisory Council; from a series of ‘Leading Lights’ interviews with global leaders; from established players changing their operating model from disruptive start-ups; UK employees; and from grass-roots projects.

We found that despite, on the surface, many organisations and staff embracing EDI initiatives, the UK has systemic challenges around workplace inclusion, with specific challenges for minoritised groups who feel overlooked and face discrimination.

Supporting Reseach

The Everyone Economy Report

A special report to mark the 75th Anniversary of CMI

The central message we found is that economic recovery and long-term resilience depend on utilising all the talent and perspectives in our workforce. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to supercharge productivity. This is the opportunity of ‘the Everyone Economy.’

The Everyone Economy

This report calls on all managers, leaders and organisations to step up. And it relies on policy-makers and legislators to move away from passivity to far greater activism so that all may catch up and we can collectively prosper.

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What we've learnt

The key outtakes from the Everyone Economy Report.

This study has identified a number of crucial areas in which the UK population and workforce are changing. When economies reach a certain size and complexity it gets harder to increase productivity. Doing so relies increasingly on identifying potential - not just social background or levels of education - in order to maximise talent. This presents challenges for maximising UK economic success in the post-pandemic era.

560k - missing female managers in the UK

420k - missing managers from lower socio-economic background

290k - missing managers with disabilities

100k - missing managers from diverse ethnic backgrounds

14% - increase in the employment rate for people aged 50-64 years between 1995-2021

We surveyed 2,066 UK employees (who were not in managerial roles) for this report:

  • 41% said they had witnessed colleagues being negatively affected by their background at work.
  • 41% said they had themselves been negatively affected by their identity.
  • Over half (52%) said they had at some point in their career been overlooked for a workplace opportunity because of their identity.
  • Nearly half (45%) say they have had to change something about themselves to get on in the workplace.
  • For all of these statistics, the percentages were higher for minority groups and particularly high for those from Black backgrounds, and those identifying as LGBTQ+.

Our research identified a significant awareness-to-action gap across UK workplaces. We found that, while managers overwhelmingly see their organisation as inclusive, the reality is different. Organisations think and say they’re doing the right thing - but the evidence suggests they are failing to deliver.

The perception-action gap in organisations

Proportion of respondents that agreed their organisation is inclusive of all staff regardless of...

Perception Action Gap
Sexual Orientation
% of respondents reporting that training for managers on LGBTQ+ inclusion is provided by their organisation*
% of respondents who reported underrepresentation of women in their organisation and said their organisation had an action plan to address the imbalance**
% of respondents who said their organisation was taking active steps to increase the proportion of employees from diverse ethnic groups through its recruitment practices***
% of respondents who thought older worker were under-represented and said the organisation was proactively trying to recruit older workers to diversify their workforce𐠒
Socio-economic background
% of respondents who said their organisation was taking active steps to increase the proportion of employees from lower socio-economic background through its recruitment practices𐠒𐠒
% of respondents who thought disabled people were under-represented in their organisation and their organisation was planning to take steps to increase representation at any level𐠒𐠒𐠒

Even rudimentary approaches to identify and address gaps in representation and progression within organisations are rare. In trying to make progress, we’re starting from a low base. And if leaders don’t step up, others won’t follow.

We discovered low levels of transparency in terms of data collection and reporting:

  • 80% of respondents said their organisation either did not capture the socio-economic background data of applicants during the recruitment process, or they did not know if their organisation collected this data.
  • 67% of respondents said they did not know, or that their organisation has taken no action, in relation to Ethnicity Pay Gap (EPG) reporting and action plans which include data collection. 39% of respondents said either their organisation does not collect data on disability in its workforce, or they did not know if their organisation collects this data.

We discovered an absence of specific initiatives:

  • Of those who thought disabled people were under-represented in their organisation, only 22% reported that their organisation was planning to take any steps to increase representation at any level in their organisation.
  • 26% of respondents said their organisation was taking active steps to increase the proportion of employees from a lower socio-economic background through its recruitment practices.
  • Of those who thought women were under-represented in their organisation, only 44% reported their organisation had an action plan to address the imbalance.
  • Of those who thought older workers were under-represented in their organisation, only 5% said the organisation was proactively trying to recruit older workers to diversify their workforce.
  • Less than half of respondents (47%) said their organisation was taking active steps to increase the proportion of employees from diverse ethnic groups through its recruitment practices.
  • Only 26% of respondents reported that training for managers on LGBTQ+ inclusion is provided by their organisation.
  • Government must recognise that effective EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) is key to unlocking UK productivity and economic effectiveness rather than just see it through the lens of regulatory burden - ‘red tape’ in the political jargon.
  • The ‘Everyone Economy’ shares the same fundamental principle that sits under the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda - that we as a nation will be more prosperous when opportunity is shared more widely and more fairly across all of the UK’s communities.
  • Whilst the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper has moved the policy from a soundbite to a strategic mission, CMI believes more should be done to instil the principle behind it (and so, behind the ‘everyone economy’) into every aspect of the Government’s activity. Looking to produce a workforce fit for the future? The more diverse talent you can access the better. Wanting to present ‘Global Britain’ abroad? Ensure the UK represents and celebrates all of the communities which make it up.
  • Better data is key to this: Government needs to commit to pay gap reporting and mandatory action plans in order to move the dial on all areas of diversity.
  • Beyond this, it should move beyond a narrow legalistic and regulatory approach, to shine a light on good and bad practice and to use the persuasive power of policy and regulation to encourage innovation.
  • This means, choosing not to award lucrative contracts to companies that consistently fail to diversify their leadership teams or to demonstrate their commitment to recognising talent in all its forms including through equal pay; to ensure everyone can benefit from access to flexible working; to boost effective management practice; and to hold leaders and companies to account when they fail to act on diversity and inclusion in all its forms.
  • The business department - BEIS - needs to own this agenda, working closely with the cabinet office, to spread best practice, catalyse progress and turbo-charge productivity and performance - right across the economy and starting with the civil service itself.

Until now, the issues around EDI have primarily been seen as related to social justice and/or regulation. This has resulted in a compliance approach at one end of the spectrum and a laissez-faire approach at the other. This in turn has prevented serious across-the-board engagement among employers with an agenda that will create business and organisational benefits.

This is, to use economists’ terminology, a market failure – the under-supply of effective management practice that creates and sustains working environments in which all people can thrive. This has in turn compromised the ability of organisations, sectors, and the wider UK economy to achieve their potential.

Exclusion also has profound human impacts. In researching this report, we have heard many moving individual stories of people prevented from participating in work and the wider economy. Many of us will have felt excluded at some point in our life or career. Now imagine what it is like to feel excluded every day. That is how many employees and managers from under-represented groups in the workplace feel.

Recruiting, retaining, and developing diverse talent is no longer just about ‘doing good’; it is critical to business success. As an employer, a manager, or leader, if you are not enabling those from under-represented or disadvantaged groups to contribute in the best way possible, then you are going to be limiting your organisation's effectiveness. Some of your best and brightest workers will either walk away to more enlightened employers or will be forced to systematically under-perform. Both are disastrous. This is about going beyond setting EDI policies alone and toward permanent and sustainable changes in the way we as leaders behave.

Getting this right requires ambition and action from everyone - business and other employers, employees, and government. We need to do more to step out of our comfort zone, reach out to others who don’t necessarily look like us, or feel they’ve had similar experiences, talk to them about their aspirations, interests and strengths, and most importantly what is holding them back. We will have to take some risks and often we will get it wrong. That’s fine, if we are authentic in our ambitions we will be forgiven and we will collectively learn. Then we can take the right actions to level the playing field.

It’s only then that we will be able to realise untapped talent and rectify this missed economic opportunity, as well as the human benefits of ensuring that the ‘Everyone Economy’ becomes a reality. The economic future of the UK relies on us getting this right.

View the infographicHow CMI can help

* Read the full outtakes in the report

Make your pledge

As a leader, if you do just 5 things after reading this report

Download your pledge card
Ask yourself challenging questions and pay attention to the answers
Put together a plan and track your progress
Embrace flexible working
Recognise the central role of all managers, not just EDI specialists
Be a story-teller and a role model

Supporting Research

Working with inspirational thought-leaders and our global network of over 170k managers, our 75th Anniversary project seeks to understand the barriers that stop diverse talent from progressing in the workplace, and identify the skills, behaviours and policies that managers need to know to tear these barriers down - and in the process, deliver the productivity boost which is crucial to our future prosperity.

The Inclusivity Illusion: When is an inclusive workplace not actually inclusive? That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves at CMI based on the findings of our latest poll of 2,066 employees (non managers) in the UK.  Take a look at these findings and meet the Advisory Council and contributors behind the 75th project who helped shape the findings.

Workplace Inclusivity IllusionContributors and Case Studies

Promoting true diversity and being genuinely inclusive is important in its own right, for organisational success. It is also a fundamental part of creating a sustainable culture and embedding sustainability in the heart of an organisation. Put simply, that has to be the way of the future.

Prof David Grayson, 75th Advisory Council