Talent Diversity Inclusion Dawn IMage credit pixabay\GeraltDEI, Diversity, Workday has published the results of a global diversity study in time for Workday Rising Europe. The study is based on a survey conducted by Sapio Research of 3,114 HR professionals and business leaders from 23 countries. The report was written in collaboration with EW Group, the UK’s leading diversity consultancy.

The 26-page report reveals that while funding for DEI initiatives is rising, the execution and delivery of change are held back by a lack of data to formulate strategic action. The report begins with an introduction by Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer of Workday.

Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer, Workday
Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer, Workday

Taylor comments, “Since our 2021 survey, many organisations have started on their unique DEI journeys, but increasingly employees expect a stronger focus on creating lasting change. Our research shows that having a clear DEI vision and strategy, driven by dedicated and engaged leaders from across the organisation, enhances a company’s ability to accelerate DEI awareness and drive adoption and accountability.”

The report begins with a brief introduction followed by some key findings and is then divided into seven sections:

  • Global Blueprint for Belonging and Diversity
  • Setting the Intention
  • Set Up for Success
  • Data: from Compliance to Outcomes
  • Taking Action
  • Technology as an Enabler
  • Driving Momentum: Achieving Goals Globally

The key findings from the report include:

  • 41% of respondents say that the main business case for DEI is employee well-being
  • 39% of respondents report that a strategic approach for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging doesn’t exist
  • 60% of respondents report that recording DEI data is a challenge
  • Only 20% of respondents measure the business impact and perceived value of DEI

Making changes requires a budget. 76% have a budget for DEI initiatives, 35% expect it to increase, and 45% expect it to remain the same. The report does not reveal why budgets in the remaining 20% decreased.

The state of DEI

This is a comprehensive report with a mix of data graphics, analysis and comments from industry leaders. The report also includes 22 questions for organisational decision-makers to reflect on their approach to DEI. These questions alone make the report worth reading.

The good news highlighted in the report is the DEI is improving globally. The majority of workforces are not diverse across any single dimension. At the senior management level, 30% of teams are ethnically diverse, but only 21% below senior management are. This was the highest percentage. The strategic approach is improving, with only APJ not having more than 50% with an evolving or mature strategic approach.

DEI is seen as important, with the survey highlighting the key reasons that make up the business case for DEI initiatives. The top four are:

  • Improve staff well-being – 41%
  • Attract and develop talent – 40%
  • Attract and recruit a diverse workforce – 38%
  • Improve employee engagement – 38%

Of the nine factors listed, all were at least 35%. The authors also recognise the external drivers for diversity, with compliance and customer demand as important. The differences between the global regions are interesting, with APJ focusing on the importance of attracting and developing talent.

Across the board, South Africa seems to be leading the charge internationally on diversity. Perhaps this is because the Rainbow Nation, as described by Desmond Tutu, focuses on unifying its different cultural elements more than other countries.

The report focuses on the lack of trust in DEI data, an area that Workday solutions can help with. For example, VIBE Index and VIBE Central bring diversity and inclusion-related data into one centralised place within Workday Human Capital Management (HCM). However, the report also states that 73% of respondents feel trust in DEI data is relatively high. The report focuses on why the remainder has a lack of trust, citing:

  • Data privacy and regulatory compliance issues – 39%
  • Lack of relevant technology- 33%
  • Ineffective internal employee communication – 30%

Making a difference

The remaining sections provide insights into what organisations are doing and planning. It lists the DEI initiatives most commonly undertaken, with the top three being:

  • Positive action: to encourage diverse applicants – 36%
  • DEI training – 36%
  • Positive action: to support development and promotion – 36%

More detail around these might have been useful, and if qualitative data was collected, it is not included in this report. The report is comprehensive but high-level; perhaps a further report or blog could provide insights into what positive actions and training are undertaken by organisations.

One important area highlighted is that companies must measure their initiatives and understand how their employees feel. The VP of Global Talent & Development at Avantor commented, “We have to adapt our listening approach to a new world of work, ensuring more leadership accountability, driving change management at a faster pace, and using employee feedback to inform our company’s business strategy and priorities as well as our programs, initiatives, and systems—especially our DEI strategy.”

Gathering DEI metrics requires an HCM system and an employee listening application such as Workday Peakon Employee Voice to gain a holistic overview of the employee experience across the business. It will provide organisations with real-time insights into employee engagement, sentiment, productivity, well-being, DEI, and transformation and change data.

The report closes with a section that indicates the importance of technology to the different aspects of DEI initiatives. Only 7% of organisations are not using technology to support DEI initiatives. The statistic alone says that technology is an important component for those serious about improving DEI.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

The discussion about DEI continues. While many organisations are making a difference, there is a long road ahead. Jonny Briggs, diversity, inclusion & resourcing director at Workday customer Aviva notes, “It’s encouraging to see how companies worldwide continue to make DEI a priority. I found it telling to learn from the report that many companies struggle with managing their DEI data, and state that better systems are needed for that.

“For us, having DEI data available at our fingertips is key to enabling better decisions and moving towards an even more equitable workplace – and it also shows us that our employees trust us with their sensitive data, highlighting that we are moving in the right direction.” 

This whitepaper highlights where organisations are now with DEI initiatives. It also provides some questions that business and HR leaders should ask themselves about their organisations. While the report also feels like it could go further, that would have made it a book, it is well written and thought-provoking and worth the time spent reading it.


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