Firm data reveals diversity dearth in DEI roles

DEI roles are largely white-held while programmes aren't getting leadership buy-in

Enough diverse individuals aren’t holding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) roles and programmes are under-resourced with a lack of leadership buy-in; this is despite firms making ‘improvements’ to their DEI programmes and racial justice support.

These findings come from the employee experience platform Culture Amp and suggest that firms fail to follow through on their DEI commitments and engage in tick-box exercises to appease stakeholders.

The data that involved a survey of around 300 global organisations and employee experience information from 1.1 million respondents reveals that some 32% of firms created a DEI role during the start of the pandemic and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement – yet only four in ten had a dedicated DEI role.

In addition to a lack of dedicated DEI roles, they are held largely by white professionals, with 71% of HR and DEI managers having white or European ethnicity, leaving out perspectives on equality and inclusion matters from diverse staff and potentially causing unconscious bias in decision-making processes.

The data also suggests these roles aren’t held by any minority group in significant numbers as only 13% identified as LGBTQ+ while a mere 9% had a disability.

Culture Amp’s findings also question the level of buy-in from leadership regarding DEI. Only a third of respondents called their DEI role “adequately resourced.” At the same time, nearly 44% said their DEI role was not part of their company’s leadership team, where they can obtain the resources needed for developing initiatives.

When implementing change in their organisations, the research found that less than a third of firms are making data-driven decisions regarding their DEI programmes, suggesting a lack of planning.

Furthermore, while 55% of firms were engaged in annual pay equity monitoring, less than one-third were auditing their performance processes for equity which makes pay equity analyses ineffective.

The findings also showed that firms could better provide female staff with a work/life balance, with women being less likely to agree that their company “enabled them to balance work and personal life” than men in 2021. When asked if they could manage caregiving responsibilities as they resumed work, they were again much less likely to agree than men.

Aubrey Blanche, Senior Director of Equitable Design, Product & People at Culture Amp, said: “Organisations deserve a bit of credit for stating a commitment to the DEI agenda, and while the Black Lives Matter movement was centred on the US, it further inspired companies in Europe to think about their DEI strategy and inclusion of local minorities. However, our survey also shows that DEI roles don’t adequately reflect the diverse, multi-ethnic workforce emerging in organisations worldwide.

“In addition, senior leaders need to begin to walk the talk on their ‘commitments’. They must provide further resourcing, hire more dedicated DEI roles, and level these professionals so that they can create transformative change. In addition, our data show that gathering data, using it to make decisions, and developing and implementing a strategic DEI plan are the keys to driving progress.

“More organisations should – and can – begin this work immediately if they want to. Only with this added support and momentum will companies truly reflect today’s societies’ diversity and help broaden workplace opportunities for marginalised people in the new economy.”

To read Culture Amp’s report “Understanding the DEI landscape”, click here.

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