The Everyone Economy report by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that despite many organisations and staff embracing EDI initiatives, the UK still has systemic challenges around workplace inclusion, with specific challenges for minoritised groups who feel overlooked and face discrimination. 

In this blog, Hamish Shah, Policy & Innovation Manager at CMI and Lizzie Ville, Senior Policy & Research Officer at Fawcett, explain why management and leadership are integral to inclusive growth and share some tips for leaders and managers to facilitate inclusive workplaces.

The UK is experiencing high inflation and is forecasted for a recession. We also have enormous numbers of vacancies across the economy, and there is a desperate need to close these gaps and put in place measures to stimulate economic growth and productivity. There’s been an acceleration of focus among the leading political parties on stimulating growth, innovation, and productivity to counter the economic outlook, but in order to achieve this, we must stop failing to properly develop our greatest resource - people.

This is easier said than done, because not all groups have equal access to positive workplace experiences. Research published this year by the Fawcett Society and the Runnymede Trust (Broken Ladders), and the Chartered Management Institute (the Everyone Economy)*, identified significant challenges facing under-represented groups, from entry level all the way through their career. For example, Broken Ladders found sobering evidence of institutional racism across sectors, with 75% of women of colour having experienced racism at work.

To ensure we secure the aspirational goals of a productive workforce, innovation, and competitive growth - we must ensure that we’re putting in place measures to not only safe-guard employees, but to develop and maximise the widest possible range of talent.

How can we do this? One answer is developing inclusive management and leadership at all levels. This is essential to creating an inclusive workplace culture, which is central to enabling everyone to succeed. CMI’s research has shown that 1 in 4 working people in the UK are managers - that is over 7.4 million people.**

But there has long been an under-supply of effective management practice, and this makes it difficult to create and sustain working environments in which everyone can thrive. This has compromised the ability of organisations, sectors, and the wider UK economy to achieve their true potential.

CMI’s research shows everyone needs to do more to tackle this head on. We found that individuals and organisations think and say they’re doing the right thing – but the evidence suggests that they are failing to deliver. 88% of respondents to CMI’s survey agreed that their organisation is inclusive of all staff regardless of their ethnicity, yet only 47% said their organisation was taking active steps to increase the proportion of employees from diverse ethnic groups through its recruitment practices.

Broken Ladders identified that 61% of women of colour had to change themselves to ‘fit in’ at work, while 43% of women of colour said being refused promotion led to loss of motivation. Without concerted action we can never break down barriers in the workplace.

CMI has long argued that a lack of management development holds back organisations. A common theme in Broken Ladders was the experience of a line manager who acted either directly or indirectly to block progression of women of colour.

Women spoke of ‘barrier bosses’ – line managers who limited and controlled their ability to progress either by depriving them of recognition, putting up barriers for opportunities and training, or by discouraging and even actively blocking progression. For example, 28% of women of colour compared to 19% of white women reported a manager having blocked their progression at work.

CMI research*** similarly found that only 1 in 5 (22%) said that managers or senior leaders pro-actively seek out and advocate women for key projects/roles/promotions, and this dips to just 14% for female respondents compared to 27% for male respondents.

So, we know that well developed and trained managers and leaders, underpinned by an inclusive workplace culture for all groups, delivers social and economic benefits, but the simple fact is that progress has been slow. That has to change.

The process won’t be straightforward and shifting cultures and biases will require uncomfortable conversations and transitions. But the potential gains of a full-participation economy are huge – not only in terms of GDP and business profits, but through helping everyone to live better lives. These reports from the Fawcett Society, the Runnymede Trust, and CMI are designed to show we can achieve this vision.

As a leader, if you do just 5 things after reading The Everyone Economy:

  1.  Ask yourself challenging questions and pay attention to the answers. Don’t gloss over difficult facts and conversations.

  2. Put together a plan and track your progress. Study your data, improve it, share it, and hold yourself accountable.

  3. Embrace flexible working. Even small degrees of flexibility increase your chances of attracting and retaining a diverse talent pool.

  4. Recognise the central role of all managers, not just EDI specialists. Each and every manager should be aware, trained, and practice inclusive leadership every single day.

  5. Be a story-teller and a role model. Share your experiences of work and your own challenges. Say why diversity, inclusion and fairness matters to your organisation. Give practical reasons linked to better outcomes and ethical reasons too.

If you would like further information about how to build an inclusive and diverse workplace, please contact Hamish Shah at [email protected]

*Chartered Management Institute, the Everyone Economy (2022):

** Labour market overview, UK: August 2022:,on%20the%20quarter%20to%203.8%25 

*** Chartered Management institute, International Women's Day 2022: