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24 August 2017

Creating sustainable movement – How to embed diversity and inclusion (D&I) within your talent decisions

Authored by Stefanie Coleman

There’s little denying the benefits of D&I. With volumes of research promoting the gains of a diverse and inclusive workforce, it’s no surprise we’re seeing more and more organisations invest in D&I to achieve heightened innovation, improved financial performance and to attract top talent.

Why is it that despite these investments, many organisations are not seeing results? For example, PwC’s global D&I survey indicates that while 87% of participants identify D&I as a strategic priority, almost half (42%) still consider it a barrier to progression (for diverse employees). The answer to achieving results is to create sustainable movement, and this means:

  • D&I strategy alone is not enough -- it is brought to life through investments across the talent lifecycle. From workforce planning to offboarding -- and everything in between.
  • To generate a true culture of D&I, broad consideration of the concept is key -- it's not simply a matter of gender, race or age. But in addition, includes diversity of thought, experience and perspective.

While the answer is simple to say – it is harder to achieve. For example, PwC’s global D&I survey shows that of organisations assessing themselves against PwC’s D&I maturity model 40% rate in the lowest maturity category for creating sustainable movement and only 15% rate in the highest.

The talent lifecycle can be leveraged to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce, culture and mindset. And based on my experience consulting with clients in a number of industries and across multiple locations, I want to share some examples of how:

Talent Lifecycle

Plan & Execute – one global company has incorporated D&I targets into the design of their workforce plans – key to this was the cultivation of an age-diverse workforce in response to a retiring baby-boomer population.

Recruit & Select – some firms have leveraged technology to root out unconscious bias – 28% use a performance audition platform where candidates participate in a challenge and selection is solely based on performance. In the Middle East, like in other “ex-pat cultures”, it is common to recruit through global channels to attract a diverse workforce – in particular, where talent is imported from international markets and offered customised total reward packages (e.g., allowances, ex-pat benefits, etc). Despite these examples, PwC’s global D&I survey indicates that only 46% of respondents have adopted targeted programmes to recruit diverse candidates.

Develop & Deploy – in some firms (such as PwC), investments in targeted development programmes to further diverse populations is the norm – for example, leadership development programmes for high performing women or ethnic minorities. However, this is not reflective of the general trends where only 40% of participants in PwC’s global D&I survey have instituted programmes to develop a diverse pipeline of leaders, and just 45% provide targeted development opportunities to diverse employees. 

Measure & Manage – it is not unusual to see executives held accountable for D&I performance though executive scorecards. A number of publicly listed companies across the US, Brazil, and Australia are disclosing D&I objectives and progress in their annual reports. You can learn more about PwC’s scorecard, The Inclusion Index, in our Diversity journey publication.

Reward & Recognise – in the US, UK, Switzerland and Australia, pay gap analysis is increasingly common. This is often driven by legislative requirements such as the California Equal Pay Act and Australia’s Workforce Gender Equality Act (among others). In addition, several organisations perform D&I assessments on performance and compensation outcomes to detect and remediate potential patterns of inequality. Despite pressure and some evidence of D&I assessments, only 42% of organisations participating in PwC’s global D&I survey believe fairness is demonstrated in their performance and compensation decision-making.

Review & Transition –globally, the percentage of employees within large organisations participating in global mobility programmes has grown 25% since the turn of the millennium. We see several clients, across sectors, harness global mobility to foster D&I. PwC, as well, adopts a similar strategy. Separately, some organisations seek employee feedback from diverse talent upon their departure in order to better understand any unique retention considerations that may be relevant and insightful.

Engagement – the existence of affinity/employee resource groups (e.g., women’s networks, LGBT groups, or veteran communities) is commonplace in large, Western, organisations. These play an important role in the “I” of D&I, inclusion, by creating personal networks and a sense of belonging. PwC’s Diversity Journey highlights that our own experiences with LGBT+ networks (GLEE) have enhanced access to talent, developed more inclusiveness, enhanced engagement and built stronger relationships – but despite this, only 25% of participants in PwC’s global D&I survey are using these groups to support these outcomes. 

The return on investment in D&I has great opportunity through integration with business strategy and programmes across the talent lifecycle. When effectively integrated, D&I can be more than aspiration, but an enabler to organisational performance.  

Find out how your organisation’s D&I programme compares to other organisations in your industry and region by completing the survey. You’ll be joining over 800 organisations who have already taken part.

Stefanie Coleman is a director with PwC US’ Financial Services Advisory Practice. She has spent the last ten years advising clients on HR issues in North America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. She currently advises clients within the financial services industry from PwC in New York City. Stefanie is both personally and professionally passionate about diversity and inclusion. Connect with her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefanie-coleman-85299bb/).


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