Employees demand systemic change in DEI

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The Netherlands has replaced Canada as home to the world’s most diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces, according to Kantar’s Inclusion Index 2022. The new benchmarking study measures progress in developing inclusive and diverse workplaces on a global scale.

Personal services – such as hairdressing and beauty salons – were voted the most inclusive industry, followed by the non-profit sector and professional services. The entertainment industry needs to do better as it was voted one of the least inclusive industries. More broadly, progress on building diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces has stalled with some countries, such as Canada, the USA and Italy, actually going backwards.

Based on quantitative findings from almost 13,000 employees across 13 countries and 24 industries, the Inclusion Index ranks the most inclusive countries and industries, by measuring employees’ lived experiences, evaluating a sense of belonging and the presence of discrimination and negative behaviour. Other findings from this year’s study include:

  • The Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Spain and Canada make up the top five countries with the most inclusive corporate workplaces 
  • Mexico and Australia showed the highest levels of growth from 2019, while the US, Canada and Italy showed a significant drop 
  • There is a growing appetite for companies to go beyond cultural days and logo change. Employees (46%) want their organisations to do more to drive systemic change in DEI  
  • Failure to implement meaningful change is having a significant impact on recruitment and retention with 1 in 4 likely to leave their organisation due to the lack of inclusion 
  • The Entertainment industry, together with Agriculture and Fishing are the least inclusive industries as measured by employees

A country-level view

The study reveals that despite its increasing visibility in business’ agenda, progress in DEI has stalled. The global index score of 55 is unchanged compared to 2020. Eight of the twelve markets surveyed in both years saw a decrease in their Inclusion Index score between 2019 and 2022. Conversely, Mexico (+15%) and Australia (+7%) have shown the biggest growth in DEI progress during the last three years.

Figure 1. Inclusion score at country level

DEI at an Industry Level

Industries are at different stages in their inclusion journey. Personal services (hairdressers, beauty etc), professional services (legal, accountancy etc), and non-profit-organisations demonstrate leading efforts to drive inclusion. Meanwhile, financial services, towards the middle of the ranking, and IT and Marketing companies in the lower half of the ranking, are most actively taking steps to be more inclusive. As well as Marketing and IT, industries at the bottom of the ranking including Fashion, Hospitality, Security, Entertainment, Media, Sport, Publishing and Agriculture still have a long way to go to move the needle.

Table 1. Industry Ranking 2022

Hard Truths about the modern workplace

Minority groups face poorer experiences in the workplace, driven by a lack of sense of belonging, discrimination, and the presence of negative behaviours: 

  • 1 in 2 respondents who identify as disabled* feel that opportunities to progress have been restricted by senior colleagues. 
  • 1 in 4 respondents from an ethnic minority report having been made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace. 
  • Over a third of respondents (33%) who identify as LGBTQ+ report having been bullied and undermined at work. 
  • Almost half of women (49%) in our study report observing colleagues taking sole credit for shared efforts. 

* Kantar identifies disabled as having a physical or mental condition that limits daily life.

Global Engagement Gap

A quarter of respondents globally are likely, or highly likely, to leave their company based on lack of inclusion and/or discrimination experienced - this rises to over a third (34%) for respondents under 35 and 39% for those identifying as LGBTQ+. And companies are responding.

Current efforts to push DEI forward globally and across industries are being noticed - 71% of respondents believe their company is actively taking steps to be more diverse and inclusive. Almost half (46%) of respondents agree that they have personally benefitted from DEI initiatives in their organisation. Similarly, 46% of respondents agree that their organisations need to do more to drive DEI forward. For example, employees want to see a stronger focus on driving systemic change.

Commenting on this year’s Index, Nadach Musungu, Inclusion Lead at Kantar said: “The data shows that we’re not seeing the anticipated growth on inclusion, but that is not to say DEI has lost its importance in the workplace. Rather, employees' expectations on DEI are shifting, what was good in 2019 no longer is enough in 2022. Employees are increasingly demanding systemic change and tangible action from companies that claim to be serious about DEI. In the midst of the great resignation, and fight for the best talent, companies cannot fail to act, as this may result in employees voting with their feet.”

Main image: The Hague, Netherlands. Credit: ColorMaker via Shutterstock