DEI funding increases but lack of data disrupts implementation

Workday has published the results of research which highlights that the majority of global organisations are investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), yet many either do not have data, or are not effectively using available data, to drive their strategies and business impact.

The research was conducted in late 2022, amongst more than 3,100 HR professionals and C-level business leaders with responsibility for diversity initiatives within the organisation, to understand their motivations, activities and progress in relation to belonging and diversity. The Workday and Sapio Research study spanned 23 countries and revealed positive progress has been made, but also indicated clear areas of opportunity, including the need to measure business impact and use data to track progress more effectively.

The research revealed that despite the current global economic climate, the majority of respondents saw an increase in dedicated DEI roles within their organisations, alongside seeing an increase (35%) or maintaining (45%) the current investment levels for DEI initiatives in the next financial year.

However, while the majority of organisations now have some form of strategic approach for DEI, 39% of respondents globally said that no strategic approach currently exists, making it difficult to go from goal-setting to goal-getting. This is particularly prevalent in Asia Pacific Japan (APJ) where 52% of respondents reported that they had a low or emerging strategic approach to DEI, compared to Australia, New Zealand (35%), Europe (39%) North America (34%) and South Africa (22%), respectively. Almost a third globally (32%) also stated that their company needs leadership and commitment at the top of the organisation to move forward.

One of the other key reasons for the lack of strategic approach was revealed to be down to the data and reporting on DEI efforts, with only 20% of respondents measuring the business impact and value of DEI initiatives. 60% also commented that tracking progress was challenging and required new systems and software, to fully support DEI strategy and implementation.

Additional highlights of the study showed:

•Investments in DEI Remain Strong

oMore than three in four organisations (76%) have a budget for DEI initiatives.

oOver half (59%) have seen an increase in investment in official DEI roles within their organisation compared to the previous year, with 35% planning to increase DEI investment in the next financial year and 45% planning to maintain it.

•More to be Done to Celebrate Diversity

oOverall it was found more than a third (36%) of respondents stated that diversity is recognised, valued, and celebrated in their organisations. However, 18% said that it was trivialised and there wasn’t enough focus on recognising the differences that exist.

“At Workday, we believe in building a great place to work for all, which means being intentional about our commitment to Value Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (VIBE™) and creating a workplace where all our employees are valued for their unique perspectives, respected as equal and integral, and are given fair access to opportunity,” said Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer, Workday. “As part of this, we regularly assess and reflect on our own belonging and diversity efforts and continue to refine our strategy so we can continue to make progress.”

“Since our 2021 survey, many organisations have started on their unique DEI journeys, but increasingly employees expect a stronger focus on creating lasting change. Our research shows that having a clear DEI vision and strategy, driven by dedicated and engaged leaders from across the organisation, enhances a company’s ability to accelerate DEI awareness and drive adoption and accountability. Technology is a powerful tool in helping us to not only understand the different groups that make up our workforce but also to understand how a DEI strategy drives business outcomes.”

“It’s encouraging to see how companies worldwide continue to make DEI a priority,” said Jonny Briggs, diversity, inclusion & resourcing director at Workday customer, Aviva. “I found it telling to learn from the report that many companies struggle with managing their DEI data, and state that better systems are needed for that. For us, having DEI data available at our fingertips is key to enabling better decisions and moving towards an even more equitable workplace – and it also shows us that our employees trust us with their sensitive data, highlighting that we are moving in the right direction.”

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