We know that diversity is good for business. Organisations that invest in diversity report seeing a number of advantages, such as an increased ability to attract talent, greater innovation, and improved financial performance. But what does it take to build a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programme that is able to realise these benefits, and which leading practices are actually being adopted by companies around the globe?

To answer these questions,Diversity Australia conducts global, cross-industry survey of business, D&I, and HR leaders who develop and execute their organisations’ D&I strategies to understand what programmes their organisations have in place, and the impact they are having on employee experience.

Continue reading to explore the results of the survey. Then, take the survey to diagnose the maturity of your organisation’s D&I programme, and see how your organisation compares to others in your region and industry. Survey responses will be recorded and aggregated with the overall survey benchmark results; individual responses will be kept strictly confidential.

What differentiates a leading D&I programme?

In our experience, the D&I programmes that are most effective at realising their goals are comprised of four key elements:

Understanding the facts of today

Initiating a continuous process for understanding the facts of what’s happening inside the organisation today. Examples include:

  • Gathering and analysing data to remove bias and increase opportunity, including demographic data, performance and compensation data, and feedback from customers.
  • Sharing information on the diversity of the company with employees

Building an inspirational strategy

Creating a business-focused vision and strategy for D&I that reflects the reality of today and the real potential of tomorrow. Examples include:

  • Identifying D&I as a priority for driving business results
  • Publicly communicating progress toward meeting goals

Developing leadership engagement

Engaging leadership around an inspirational D&I strategy by articulating the business case and establishing supportive governance, policies and procedures. Examples include:

  • Leaders communicating regularly about D&I as part of broader discussions about business priorities and results
  • Holding leaders accountable for D&I results
  • Placing oversight for D&I with senior leadership and the Board of Directors

Developing leadership engagement

Engaging leadership around an inspirational D&I strategy by articulating the business case and establishing supportive governance, policies and procedures. Examples include:

  • Leaders communicating regularly about D&I as part of broader discussions about business priorities and results
  • Holding leaders accountable for D&I results
  • Placing oversight for D&I with senior leadership and the Board of Directors

Creating sustainable movement

Executing the D&I strategy across all elements of your business and talent ecosystem. Examples include:

  • Embedding a diversity lens into talent management, training, and supply chain operations and programmes
  • Embracing a broad definition of diversity that includes a focus on inclusion of all differences
  • Leveraging affinity networks to inform strategic priorities

Despite efforts, diversity viewed as a barrier to progression

Globally, organisations are committing to D&I at higher rates than ever, with 87% of respondents indicating that D&I is a stated value or priority for their organisation. However, despite this commitment, even those who lead and execute their organisation’s  D&I programmes acknowledge there is a long way to go, with nearly half of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that diversity is a barrier to employee progression at their organisations.

Opportunity to engage younger workers in the D&I agenda

Age – more than gender – is a stronger predictor of the degree to which diversity is perceived to be a barrier to progression.49% of respondents aged 18-29 agreed or strongly agreed with this statement, while only 20% of those over 60 did. This speaks to the untapped opportunity for organisations to more effectively engage their youngest employees in driving forward their D&I strategies. But, what drives younger workers to feel this way will not be the same for any two organizations. To unleash this potential, and continue to attract and retain these employees, organisations will need to start by understanding the viewpoints of younger workers within the context of their own cultures.

Global companies lead in inclusion, but lag in progression

In today’s complex and polarised world, inclusion – and not just diversity – is increasingly critical. While global companies tend towards a more inclusive employee culture, their D&I programme leaders also view diversity as a greater barrier to progression. 82% of respondents whose organisations have a global footprint agree or strongly agree that employees demonstrate a commitment to inclusion – compared to 67% of local companies. However, their counterparts at local organisations are significantly less likely to see diversity as a barrier to progression.

Moving forward: Questions to ask about your D&I agenda

So what can you do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your D&I investments, and creating opportunity for current and future employees? Begin by asking these questions about your organisation…

  • How does D&I contribute to delivery of business performance goals?
  • How are D&I considerations incorporated into business decisions on key topics such as customers, products, and location?
  • How are leaders held accountable for D&I results?
  • What mechanisms are in place to monitor and respond to what is working – and what is not?
  • How effectively do programmes create a more inclusive environment, and not only a more diverse one?