The gender pay gap report launched in 2017 for employers with over 250 employees. For many organisations in the UK this represented the first time that gender diversity statistics needed to be recorded for compliance purposes.
The conversations with our customers at SAP reflect the significant challenge HR teams experience in capturing the essentials for measuring diversity. We are frequently asked what reports we provide, what fields we can capture, and available tools to report findings back to leadership. These questions indicate the HR community’s acknowledgment that diversity and inclusion bring important benefits to the business such as higher employee engagement, better workplace environment, and improvements on the bottom line. For example, the McKinsey study, Why Diversity Matters, showed that companies in the top quartile for diversity were 15% more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile when gender diverse and 35% more likely when ethnically diverse.
But is it enough to simply capture this data to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce? Data capture does not equal progress. Let’s look at a few steps HR can take to have greater impact on workplace inclusion.
Firstly, before jumping to tools and technology, understand what your organisation is setting out to achieve. Be realistic in your ambitions. If goals are underachieved by a significant margin, this could have unintended consequences on employee engagement. Whilst HR can facilitate this agenda, it needs to be lived across all levels of the organisation. This often requires a cultural shift. As Vernā Myers, VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix and Founder of The Vernā Myers Company said, “Diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance”.
Next, to do this in a meaningful way we need to go beyond the operational workforce data like diversity and explore the beliefs, emotions, intentions of employees and their perceptions towards inclusion. Only by exploring both can you have a holistic view of your organisation. Accenture highlights the value of this approach in the Hidden Value of Culture Makers study.
Through studying their own internal practices and those of clients, they uncovered a perception gap. The proportion of employees who do not feel included in their organisations is 10x higher than leaders believe (20% vs 2%, respectively). Through uncovering this gap, they were able to prioritise to evolve their inclusion strategy.
Few other programs can have such a significant impact on the financial wellbeing of a company. Accenture estimates that if the employee perception gap were narrowed by 50%, global profits would be higher by 33 percent, equivalent to $3.7 trillion in 2019.
The sudden disruption of COVID-19 causes firms to be placed under significant financial pressures. According to gov.uk, from 23 March to 5 April 2020, 27% of the workforce had been furloughed across 6,150 businesses. It is understandable that in times of crisis, diversity and inclusion programs are deprioritised. Especially since before COVID-19, most leaders ranked diversity and workplace culture low on their list of top organisational priorities. Approximately 75% of leaders ranked financial performance and brand recognition at the top of their list of priorities (76% and 72%, respectively), while only 34% ranked diversity and 21% ranked culture at the top, according to the Hidden Value of Culture Makers Accenture study.
In these times where organisations need to rethink business models, there is never a better moment to embrace a wider spectrum of thought. This can only come from creating a safe and inclusive place of work.
By capturing the beliefs, emotions, and intentions of employees, HR can not only measure the success of these programs but actively drive change.