Recent research reveals a striking disconnect between the intent of diversity networks and their perceived effectiveness among workers in the US and the UK. A significant 32% of employees feel that these networks fall short in fostering inclusivity, according to the study titled “Work Remastered,” conducted by culture change consultants, United Culture.

The study, which surveyed over 1,000 office-based employees across the two countries, found UK workers to be more skeptical about the impact of diversity networks. A considerable 43% of UK workers believe these networks are ineffective, a sentiment shared by only 21% of their US counterparts.

Interestingly, about half (51%) of the surveyed employees are currently members of such networks, with participation being notably higher in the US (69%) compared to the UK (34%). Men are reportedly more likely to be involved in these networks than women, with a ratio of 63% to 37%.

Despite these networks frequently falling short of their goals, the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not lost on employees. A whopping 86% of the surveyed workers agree on the importance of working for an organization with a genuinely diverse workforce. This sentiment is stronger among US workers, with 92% endorsing the importance of diversity compared to 79% of UK workers.

However, the study also uncovers a gap between this aspiration and reality. Nearly one in five workers (18%) do not believe their employers have a truly diverse workforce. This belief is more common in the UK, where 25% of workers hold this view, as compared to only 10% in the US.

Mavis Boniface, Global Director of Operations at United Culture, underscores the importance of diversity in her statement: “Our research suggests diversity – in all its forms – is a cause that talent holds dear. However, it seems awareness isn’t yet translating into action, never mind systemic change. The findings suggest there’s still a lot more to do to ensure affinity groups and employee networks deliver on their promise.”

Boniface acknowledges the potential benefits of employee affinity networks, stating, “They connect people to others with similar lived experience, create meaningful opportunities for storytelling, and help employees develop a deeper sense of belonging.”

However, she also emphasizes that these networks alone won’t bring about meaningful change. Businesses must actively leverage the potential of these networks, she says, by encouraging, amplifying, and, crucially, listening to and acting on the varied views and perspectives present in their organizations.