New research by software company Workday reveals what employees feel is holding back their firms from effective equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) implementations.
The research involving the contributions of 2,217 HR professionals and business leaders across Europe found that three in four employees in the UK said their executive leadership sees ED&I as important (73%). While this seems positive news for workplace equity, more of the report’s findings indicate that there could be an issue with implementing ED&I practices to actually create inclusive change.
Europe – the state of workplace ED&I
Firstly, as three in four respondents said their executive leadership teams “see ED&I as important,” this could suggest that workplace equity is a “nice to have” option rather than a necessity.
The report also found that most European organisations believe their executive teams understand the importance of ED&I and have invested in the infrastructure to develop it. However, a third “do not have a strategic approach” to achieve it, while a fifth of respondents said their firm has only taken initial steps to create one.
While most respondents reported “using technology to support their ED&I initiatives”, their responses suggest that they are not making the fullest use of these tools, read the report. This indicates that a lack of knowledge about best practices could be inhibiting effective implementation.
On a more positive note, three in four respondents said they had “a dedicated budget for ED&I initiatives , and one-third said they plan to increase this investment.” This equated to 36% of respondents who said their firm plans to increase financial investment in ED&I and 42% that will maintain it, showing that ED&I remains a key business area of focus despite the impact of COVID-19 on the business world.
While widespread investment in ED&I initiatives among firms is good news, they must use the funding wisely to accelerate the right processes. This means knowing what to change.
How firms can pursue effective ED&I
In a recent podcast conversation about the report, Workday representatives saw the high level of ED&I activity among European firms as positive, with 90% of respondents running at least one activity in the space of ED&I.
However, they added that there was an opportunity to take further “strategic and systematic action” as only 17% of respondents had an actual ED&I strategy in place, adding it was time for firms to “strategy up” and make their approaches “more systematic.”
To take their ED&I work to the next level, 30% of respondents said they needed more leadership buy-in from the top, while 32% said they felt that “greater engagement and buy-in from staff is needed.”
While seeking commitment from leadership on ED&I is usual practice, said the speakers, the fact that many also wanted staff engagement showed that firms need “an employee-centric approach to take them on the ED&I journey and link the strategy back to what employees really need.”
The report also found that ED&I teams “embedded in organisations” were more likely to do impactful work. Respondents said cross-functional teams created a stronger link to innovation, staff engagement, business results, and better outcomes.