The survey, which was commissioned by the staffing and recruitment agency Proffice, asked 400 executives in both the private and public sectors about their work in the area of discrimination and hiring practices.
“The number who think they try to achieve diversity has increased markedly, but they don’t really do that when they recruit,” Sibel Wolff, communications director at Proffice, told the TT news agency. “I think that has to do with the fact that they don’t have concrete tools, processes or goals regarding diversity in the workplace.”
The number of executives who reported actively working on diversity issues rose from 69 percent in earlier surveys to 80 percent this year. But at the same time, the number who said they did a good job around diversity fell from 69 percent to 57 percent.
Disability and age are the biggest risk factors for hiring discrimination, and have grown markedly since previous surveys were carried out.
“In general, society has become more age fixated,” Wolff said. “Our experience shows that older people are not valued. For one thing, it’s thought they can’t keep up with technical developments.”
Gender and sexual orientation were reported as much smaller risk factors. Of those asked, 69 percent said they did not feel there was any risk of discrimination based on gender and 67 percent said sexual orientation presented no hurdle to getting a management position.
Wolff added that the survey showed that there was uncertainty about what diversity in the workplace meant.
Ellen Landberg, equality expert at the manager group Ledarna, agreed that diversity was a goal many shared, but that a lot of business leaders were not sure how to get there.
“Everyone is for diversity, but when it comes to what you should do about it, there’s a lack of know-how,” she said.
One problem is that when recruiting, managers often look at their own networks and fall back on old norms.
“The image of an executive is still firmly set,” said Landberg. “It’s a middle-aged white man without a disability.”