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With the outbreak of Coronavirus, there was a fear that diversity and inclusion policies would be swept aside as businesses across the UK moved into survival-mode. But were these fears justified?
Everyone’s talking about diversity. Conversations that have been previously brushed aside are now happening on every platform imaginable; media, social media, in the park, between brands and their consumers, and between companies and their employees. These conversations are not new, they’re just finally being heard.
At Attest, we’ve worked with the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) for just over two years. TTC is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector, driving inclusion and diversity in a practical and uniquely measurable way. By reporting on diversity in UK tech, learning from the successes of their signatories and sharing best practices, TTC aims to help the underrepresented in tech.
With the outbreak of coronavirus, there was a fear that diversity and inclusion policies would be swept aside as businesses across the UK moved into survival-mode. But were these fears justified? TTC wanted to know from business leaders themselves whether diversity plans and policies were affected by the pandemic, and gauge perception of their importance in the “new normal”.
In May, Attest worked with TTC to launch a survey to 500 UK business leaders, from a wide variety of sectors – like finance, food and beverage, healthcare, and retail – and including representation from every region of the UK. Below we dive into the results of this research, explore opinions on diversity both before and after the pandemic broke out. Our analysis includes takeaways for any business looking to adapt to the changing world around us.
Within the anonymous Attest survey, business leaders were able to give their honest opinion of diversity in their workplace. There was no definition or restrictions applied to the concept of diversity, the respondents were able to interpret “diversity” and “inclusion” in whichever way made sense to them.
The majority of respondents (68.2%) answered that improving diversity and inclusion at their business was either important or extremely important. In fact, only 5.6% said it is not at all important at their workplace, with the rest falling in the middle.
To shine more light on the importance of diversity, respondents were asked for their top reason why diversity and inclusion is important to their business. Opinion was divided almost equally across the top three responses, each receiving at least 26% of the vote.
No one can confidently say what the workplace will look like in the coming weeks and months. And as such, many businesses have shifted their priorities to deal with unexpected and critical issues. But what impact, if any, has the coronavirus had on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Despite fundamentally rocking the way many of us work, thankfully for the majority of businesses (60.2%) the pandemic hasn’t affected the focus on diversity and inclusion. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case for all businesses.
14.4% of business leaders admitted that diversity and inclusion will be superseded by other priorities in the wake of the pandemic. Debbie Forster, CEO of the Tech Talent Charter, responds, “The UK needs diverse tech talent now like never before, across every sector of business. A focus on inclusion and diversity must not be seen as a distraction from a post-coronavirus recovery, but as an essential tool for building a smarter, more innovative and progressive workforce, which will be vital for both the long-term success of individual businesses and the UK economy as a whole.”
But for a more substantial number of businesses (25.4%), the coronavirus pandemic has made us think on a human-to-human level, and will have a positive impact on the diversity of these businesses going forward. Female business leaders are more focused on the importance of diversity than their male counterparts, with 27.5% of females surveyed claiming D&I initiatives will be slightly or much more important in the post-pandemic world (compared to 23.7% of males), and only 10% saying it would be less of a focus (compared to 17.8% of males).
A starker difference in opinions is clear when we cut the data by the age of respondents, with 32.4% of those aged under 40 seeing the importance of D&I for the business to grow in the wake of coronavirus, compared to just 20% of those aged 40 and above who agree.
However you cut the data, though, there is a clear message of hope from this research; that a significant minority of business leaders see diversity as a solution to rebuilding successful businesses after lockdown. For the businesses that remain unsure of the right diversity and inclusion strategies to implement at this point in time, Debbie suggests five next steps:
If you’d like to explore more of the tools the Tech Talent Charter have created to assist their signatories in focussing on diversity and inclusion, and to sign up as a signatory yourself, explore the Tech Talent Charter website.
And if you’d like to conduct your own research into how your business could respond to changing consumer sentiments in our post-COVID world, get in touch with Attest today.
Our in-house marketing team is always scouring the market for the next big thing. This piece has been lovingly crafted by one of our team members.
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