Over half of all UK SMEs, representing over three million firms in the UK with under 250 employees, claim to have a diverse workforce, according to research by Aldermore Group.
The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report indicated that 70 per cent of London-based small and medium-sized enterprises - representing 708,000 firms in London - say they have a diverse workforce, with over half stating that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus over the next 12 months.
The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK found 53 per cent of firms said they had an employee base with a broad age range at 53 per cent, while 48 per cent claimed an ethnically diverse make-up, and 44 per cent cited a strong female to male ratio.
Some 41 per cent of firms said their staff included female employees at a senior level and more than a third affirmed they were open to making adjustments for disabled employees and ensured an inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees at 36 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, nearly two fifths of SMEs in London admitted to being much more likely to do business with a supplier, partner or provider that is well known for its inclusive employment strategies.
“According to the last census, London is the most diverse region in the UK so it is to be expected that the majority of small and medium-sized business owners in the capital describe their workforce as diverse," said Carl D’Ammassa, group managing director, business finance at Aldermore.
"However you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses.”
Despite this progressive portrayal, a quarter of UK small and medium sized businesses said they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and a further 22 per cent said increasing diversity is a low priority for them. 18 per cent of SMEs in London said they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and a further fifth said that increasing diversity is a low priority.
In addition, 24 per cent of SME leaders confessed they were also more likely to employ someone who is similar to their existing workforce and 34 per cent of SME leaders in London claimed not to attract a diverse range of potential employees with a quarter of candidates claiming that they were more likely to employ someone that is similar to their existing workforce.