Senior CSR Adviser and Elevate Pledge Lead, Business in the Community Ireland
The old adage of what you measure matters is applicable to all areas of business, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, diversity and inclusion is no different.
Measuring and setting targets is a key action in successfully building more diverse and inclusive organisations. Business in the Community Ireland, leading advisers on sustainability, recently launched the inaugural Elevate report which sets a crucial baseline for 50 Irish leading businesses in measuring the diversity profile of their workforce as a collective.
In May 2020, those companies pledged to build inclusive workplaces that support everyone to thrive equally. By signing the Elevate Pledge they committed to record the diversity profile of their workforce and annually develop one tangible action that ensures the recruitment or retention of diverse talent.
Key report findings
An analysis of the diversity profile of the collective workforce from Elevate signatories has positively pinpointed higher levels of female participation at senior and executive levels than the national average. The report indicated 38% female representation at senior executive roles, compared with a national average of 30%. This promising data shows that actively tracking metrics and developing targeted interventions can drive change.
Main challenges in measuring diversity
Whilst the report shows data disclosure on gender and age were good, other areas such as ethnicity and disability were at a less advanced stage. This data gap severely inhibits progress towards D&I ambition. Data profiling is not a trivial task and there are challenges to this – relying on voluntary disclosure of employees key amongst them, a position we believe will change as companies familiarise themselves with the measuring process and work towards creating a culture that will allow employees to embrace voluntary disclosures.
The report indicated 38% female representation at senior executive roles, compared with a national average of 30%.
Tips for measuring diversity and inclusion
- Communication is the key to achieving a well-balanced and successful campaign: encourage leaders to talk to their teams, inform them about the purpose of data collection and how the contribution of every staff member will impact the overall result of the campaign.
- Engage employee resource groups and other staff networks to ensure a wide reach.
- Consider data collection as an ongoing process rather than a snapshot in time.
Although it may be difficult to build a diversity profile, the benefits are worth the effort. When you measure and understand the current diversity profile of your workforce, you can see where there are challenges and under-representation. You can then identify priority areas to focus on and design targeted initiatives to make real progress.