What’s holding European firms back from effective ED&I?

The report shows that European firms may have good intentions about ED&I but they need to "strategy up" and follow more systematic approaches

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.

The full research can be accessed here. To listen to the Workday podcast entitled ‘A European Snapshot of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, ‘ click here.

Rate This: