A new report highlights a multitude of shortcomings when it comes to diversity and inclusion initiatives within the workplace, revealing that inclusion should be embedded into company culture to be successful. 

Research undertaken by Josh Bersin analysts shows that diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies are currently not functioning as optimally as possible.

Despite a greater emphasis placed on D&I over the past year, the report illustrates that most companies are not building their business priorities around inclusion.

When surveyed, over three-quarters of companies (76 per cent) revealed that they had no D&I goals and a similar number (75 per cent) do not have DEI included in the company’s leadership. Instead, the report highlights that diversity is wrongly treated as a compliance issue by most organisations.

In addition to this, DEI training was also not a priority for some companies with under a third (32 per cent) mandating any form of DEI training for employees.

This lack of training was also seen amongst managers with just over a third (34 per cent) receiving diversity training, showing that managers are not being given the correct tools to create an inclusive work culture.

There was also a marked lack of accountability as just over one in 10 companies (12 per cent) held managers responsible for recruiting diverse candidate. Similarly, only 11 per cent of recruiters are evaluated based on sourcing from underrepresented groups.

The report highlights three main traits that make companies stand out as high-performers when it comes to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, including:

  • The business itself being defined through inclusion and diversity
  • D&I has been a main priority for the high-performing businesses for many years
  • The companies that excel in D&I live by the culture, not by the metrics

In addition, the research found that companies which were able to listen to employees and act on results had a much higher rate of inspiring a sense of belonging (x 8.4) and engaging and retaining talent (x12). By doing this, this shifts D&I from a compliance issue to one focussed on performance and growth.

Josh Bersin analysts found that HR professionals had significant room to improve their capabilities when it comes to DEI. In a separate survey of over 3,500 HR professionals, around 80 per cent felt they were a ‘beginner’ when it came to DEI.

Josh Bersin, global industry analyst, said:

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a hotly discussed topic and clearly essential to business success. However there are no clear guidelines on how to effect lasting, meaningful change. The entire domain is highly complex, and many companies turn to legacy tactics of unconscious bias training, diverse recruiting and other directives that can backfire and even contribute to more division than unity. It’s time for CEOs and CHROs to define their businesses in diverse, fair, and inclusive ways.

Kathi Enderes, Ph.D., vice president of research, said:

Across industries, geographies and organisational sizes, the most successful organisations are listening to their employees, and hear and act accordingly. They also have strong, highly capable HR people to consult on DEI with leaders at all levels. These companies also have set clear, measurable goals that go beyond diversity representation and instil accountability across all levels.


*This report was conducted in partnership with Perceptyx and surveyed 804 HR professionals across industries, geographies, and company sizes. The full findings can be found in Josh Bersin’s ‘Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion’ report.