‘Corporates need to make their DE&I narratives more detailed’ 

A new study reveals that only 30% of the companies share the outcomes of the initiatives they have taken to create a level playing field for the various groups that constitute their workforce 

Published - November 15, 2023 03:36 pm IST

The question of women’s participation in the workforce has now covered noticeable ground but there is still “hallowed ground” that is stubbornly impervious to the best DE&I efforts. In other words, the efforts might have somewhat “altered” the way the cubicles look, but not the cabins — that is how one can translate the numbers from a study carried out by global professional services firm Aon, in collaboration with National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).

A report based on this DE&I study (which sought responses from 220 organisations from 14 industries across 17 locations) notes: “Women’s representation remains skewed at junior and middle management levels, with 70% of the organisations reporting less than 20% representation in senior management.”

By comparison to a larger failing, the inadequate representation of women at the higher echelons of the workforce is just the Borneo pygmy elephant in the room. The other elephant, one of monstrous dimensions, that is parked in the same room is this: out of the organisations that track DE&I initiatives through relevant metrics, only 30% share the results publicly. The report further adds that 14% of the organisations are yet to get off the mark, as they still do not have defined metrics.

Other key findings

* Financial incentives give the much-needed push to the DE&I agenda; yet, less than half of the organisations surveyed have taken a step in this direction.

*The representation of Persons with Disability and the LGBTQIA+ community is considerably low and are largely bucketed into non-core roles. The policies and benefits in place to address groups like PwD and LGBTQIA+ are mostly around awareness and sensitisation but do not go deep enough to address specific nuances relevant to the workplace. Policies and benefits for groups such as the neurodivergent or marginalised communities are underwhelming, the report says.

* At 98%, gender diversity is the most commonly tracked metric by organisations. Inclusion initiatives that make a deeper impact, such as reimbursement of medical equipment for PwD (36%) or working parent support programmes (59%) are limited.

* For nearly 73% of the organisations, D&I agenda is driven by the CEO or business leaders and not the HR alone. When the CEO is directly accountable, women’s representation is greater, and DE&I budgets are higher.

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