The Impact of COVID-19 on Diverse Talent


9th June 2021

Read time

3 minutes

At a Glance

There is no doubt that the impact of COVID-19 on diverse talent has been phenomenal.

The employment rate for people from minority ethnic groups slumped 5.3% in the year to September 2020, compared with a 0.2% decrease for white employees. Similarly, young people are almost three times as likely to be unemployed than older workers.

This, in part, is because there are a disproportionate number of individuals from underrepresented groups working in the industries that have been most affected, such as hospitality, retail and manufacturing.

However, the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement in May 2020 was successful in placing diversity and inclusion firmly back on the agenda for business leaders across the world. As a result, despite the ongoing challenges for those industries affected by lockdown restrictions, the last 12 months have seen some promising progress in the D&I space.


An Increased Focus on Inclusion

At Connectr, we have been pleased to see this increased focus on diversity in the workplace across all of the companies that we work with.

Many businesses are revisiting the D&I strategies that they had begun before the pandemic and taking this one step further, focussing instead on I&D (inclusion first, diversity second). This may seem a subtle difference, but it’s an important one. Employers are increasingly realising that you can hire enough diverse individuals to reach your targets on paper, but unless an organisation is truly inclusive, this is essentially meaningless. Organisations need to create a culture where all can thrive and progress if the business is to truly benefit from the huge value that a diverse workforce brings.

The need to address inclusion is demonstrated by research from Bridge Group which found that employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds take 25% longer to progress through a company, despite no evidence of poorer performance. This increases to 32% for those employees who also identify as Black. By focussing on inclusion as well as diversity, companies have the power to reverse this trend and level up their workforce.


Changes to Working Patterns

In addition to a shift in companies’ approach to I&D, the growth of remote working has also been beneficial to some underrepresented groups. For example, for many parents returning to the workplace, the need to be in an office 9-5, five days a week has been a huge barrier to employment. The same goes for those with disabilities that may prevent them from working in a traditional work setting. The acceleration of flexible and remote working sparked by the pandemic has removed this barrier and opened up opportunities for thousands of talented individuals who were previously unable to access them.

Similarly, the rise of virtual work experience has removed geographical barriers and opened up training and development opportunities to people all over the country. During the pandemic, we have worked alongside many of our employer partners to increase the reach and scale of their work experience programmes to offer improved access to diverse talent across the UK. These schemes have also been successful in introducing businesses to talented individuals that they would have been previously unable to reach.


Looking Ahead

Whilst the impact of COVID-19 on diverse talent has been significant, the past 12 months has also seen some positive progress when it comes to opening up opportunities for underrepresented talent. At Connectr, we are committed to helping businesses across the country build on this success and continue to work towards creating a truly inclusive and diverse workforce.

For more information about our work with employers across the globe, visit