Midlife Career Change: Is a Role in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Me?

Diverse group of workers smiling.
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Entering the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sector could be a natural career progression for many midlife workers. But is it the right path for you?


Diversity, equity and inclusion - ensuring all employees feel included and are treated fairly - is fundamental to good business practice, as well as something required by law. This is why top corporates school their employees in the laws surrounding DEI, and what is legally expected in terms of respectful behaviour towards colleagues from ethnic minority groups, older workers, the LGBTQ-plus community, pregnant colleagues and workers with disabilities, among other groups listed among the nine protected characteristics.

The move is a huge leap forward for workplace rights and, hopefully, a step on the road to employees working in greater harmony with each other.

As well as promoting understanding and respect between colleagues, could this burgeoning sector actually provide you with a new career path in your 50s?

As a group that’s often overlooked, midlifers may empathise with other employee groups who face similar challenges. Unfortunately, older workers can often face discrimination. Research by 55/Redefined and charity ProAge found that only 24% of HR leaders surveyed aged 25-30 were willing to hire 55-75 year-olds into their organisation, versus 63% of HR leaders aged 46-50.

Plus, with extensive career experience already, older workers tend to have a firm grasp of workplace dynamics. This could make them the perfect candidate for a job within the diversity, equity and inclusion sector.

But, is it the right career change for you?

Find out more about what diversity, equity and inclusion is, why you should consider a career in the sector and how to prepare for it.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Explained

So what exactly is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Let’s define what the three elements mean:

1. Diversity: The presence of different backgrounds and origins, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.

2. Equity: The process of providing fair and equal opportunities based on people’s individual needs. This also means recognising that not all employees have the same opportunities, and taking the time to address these imbalances.

3. Inclusion: The practice of making people feel a sense of belonging at work. Every worker should feel comfortable, valued and accepted.

By combining these three components, organisations can help people from any background feel welcome and included within the workforce, preventing discrimination.

The Nine Legally Protected Characteristics

Under the Equality Act of 2010, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a protected characteristic. The nine protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

A diverse workplace team sharing a joke.
A midlife executive smiling.

How DEI Benefits the Workplace

Diversity, equity and inclusion policies aren't just about making organisations look good – they make decent business sense too.

According to research by consultant McKinsey, executive teams who score in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to generate an above-average profit than those in the bottom quartile. And, when it comes to ethnic and cultural diversity, this figures increases to 36%.

Simply put, companies with a more diverse workforce have a better understanding of their customers and make more money.

Other benefits of DEI initiatives include:

  • Increased employee engagement and productivity.
  • A more extensive talent pool.
  • Higher employee morale.
  • Reduced turnover rates and higher retention rates.
  • A more innovative culture.
  • Improved customer service satisfaction levels.

Is a Career in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Me?

With businesses waking up to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, there are more and more job roles becoming available within the industry.

In fact, a recent study by LinkedIn found that the number of DEI roles has increased by 67% in the previous five years. The UK is leading the pack, with almost twice as many workers in this sector as any other country in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

But what does this mean for you? It all comes down to who is being hired; 77% of all new DE&I roles are either senior or director positions, which means companies are looking for experienced practitioners.

This puts people over 50 at an advantage. With years of experience, you’re a perfect candidate for a more senior DEI role. And of course, age discrimination is a key item on many employer's agendas.

Another reason to work for a business that’s passionate about DEI?

You’re more likely to feel valued too. Many midlifers may start to feel under-appreciated later on in their career, but with an employer passionate about inclusivity, you should flourish as your authentic self.

A midlife female executive at her desk.
A jobseeker looks at a job application form.

How Do I Get into DEI Roles?

There are often no formal requirements for a diversity, equity and inclusion job. However, an employer may want to see some evidence of experience within the sector.

If you don’t have this yet, there are other routes you can take.

Consider gaining a formal certification, such as those offered by the CIPD. By doing this, you'll find out more about the sector and demonstrate your commitment to it, which will stand you in good stead.

It’s also worth noting that experience within local government, Human Resources management and in voluntary, faith and community sectors will also be helpful in securing a DEI job.

It’s also worth searching our jobs-redefined jobs board listings for job descriptions to see what employers are looking for from candidates. Some common job titles to keep an eye out for include:

  • Inclusion and Diversity Advisor.
  • Inclusion and Diversity Specialist.
  • Inclusion and Diversity Manager.
  • Head of Inclusion and Diversity.
  • Director of Inclusion and Diversity.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Co-ordinator.

However, job roles in the industry will have a lot of overlap, no matter their seniority level. According to the CIPD, common job responsibilities include:

  • Providing analysis and expert advice on diversity.
  • Diversity assessments of wider organisational practices and processes.
  • Creating diversity networks to ensure all groups have a voice in the organisation.
  • Encouraging positive action interventions to support under‐represented groups.
  • Coaching and managers and employees on diversity.
  • Creating diversity analytics to understand and track performance in the organisation, including legislative requirements.
  • Celebrating diversity through organised events and awareness sessions.

Once you get an idea of the job requirements, you can see if you have any valid transferable skills.

For more training opportunities, have a look at our free online training courses, which are accredited by the CPD. You can also check out this article on retraining at 50 for more advice on how to best prepare for a career change.

Crafting a Compelling Application for DEI Roles

So, you have adequate experience and training – but how can you make your application stand out?

As with any job application, it’s important that you tailor your CV and cover letter to the company, description and responsibilities. Use language that demonstrates industry knowledge, and be sure to link to any relevant DEI or related experience that you have.

For more advice on how to brush up your CV and cover letter, we have plenty of other resources to help you:

Good luck in your applications and job interviews and remember just how much experience and expertise you will be bringing to the table.

For tips on preparing for an interview, check out our article on job interview skills for the over-50s.

Extra Resources to Help You Find Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Jobs

Ready for a new diversity, equity and inclusion job? Here are some resources to get you started: