Equality and Diversity meltdown to follow the credit crunch?

The current economic crisis will no doubt put huge pressure on budgets. The sad reality is that within many businesses and organisations corporate and social responsibility is not a core competence. Resources are likely to be channelled away to some degree if not completely in the face of survival challenges.

The crisis has come at a time when social responsibility has had reasonable attention within companies and organisations. Anxiety for what lies ahead has never been so high amongst Equality and Diversity Managers, some who are at the peak of their careers within a business landscape that has thirsted for their expertise in recent times.

The current state of affairs leaves many wondering if and when equality and diversity policies will be scrapped in favour of short term savings. Equality and Diversity managers who are on fixed term contracts may now for the first time be questioning if renewal at the end of the term is likely, and if there will be any work in the marketplace when contracts expire.

It’s a tough to predict what lies ahead for people in this sector, some tough decisions will surely have to be made. However best practise policies may not be as vulnerable as some people may think. If equality has found itself to be sown into an organisations philosophy, it would be inconsistent to suddenly lose interest in treating staff fairly for example. Have we reached a stage where corporate responsibility is seen as a vital organ to aid a businesses survival? Or is this the only rhetoric we have left to save our careers?

One of the organisations that may feel an immediate impact is Business in the Community (BITC), its one of the biggest member based organisations that advise on corporate responsibility. It has advised its members on key issues relating to equality in the last decade as well as advising on working within the community and being responsible for the environment.

On Friday they released their first video statement to talk about the implications of the credit crunch. In the video statement Stephen Howard, Chief Executive, Business in the community argues the business case for responsible behaviour is proven, and now is better time than any to sustain corporate responsibility. In a press statement he also comments:-

"The current economic and financial crisis has clearly shown that business needs to continue to invest in a realistic, robust and relevant corporate responsibility approach."  

The economic crisis will be a gruelling test for our values. We are certainly due to find how important corporate responsibility really is amongst Britain’s biggest companies and organisations. If it stays high on the agenda during this difficult period there would be no bigger testimony to how equality has embedded itself into British thinking.

posted by

Asif Yusuf



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