Global diversity & inclusion survey

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, PwC conducted a 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

View more

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

View more

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

View more

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

View more

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.

While 91% of survey respondents say that diversity is a value or priority area, 48% of respondents still agree or strongly agree that diversity is a barrier to progression at their organisations.
Diversity - a barrier to progression?
63% of respondents age 18-29 agree or strongly agree that diversity is a barrier to progression at their organisations. That number decreases as respondents get older, with only 10% of respondents age 60 and over agreeing or strongly agreeing.
Engaging younger workers in D&I

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.

93% of respondents whose organisations have a global footprint agree or strongly agree that employees demonstrate a commitment to inclusion – compared to 66% of local companies.
Inclusion vs progression
The biggest differentiator between organizations whose employees agree that diversity is a barrier to progress and those who do not is having a C-Suite leader running the D&I programme, followed by having leadership training on managing diverse populations
Leadership makes the difference

Leadership engagement makes the difference

An organisation’s stated commitment to D&I – while a foundational piece of the programme- has minimal impact on employee experience and perceptions of whether equal opportunity actually exists. So what does? Leadership engagement. For instance, 50% of organisations where diversity is not seen as a barrier to progression have leaders trained on managing diverse populations.

Yet, despite the importance of leadership engagement, survey data also shows that of the four dimensions of effective D&I programmes, it is on this one that organisations consistently lag behind leading practice, leaving a significant opportunity for improvement. As executives look to advance their D&I agendas, they should consider opportunities to increase accountability and visibility of senior leaders.

Industries that position D&I as a C-Suite priority

Retail and Consumer Goods, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, and Technology are industries leading the way in dedicating a C-Suite position to D&I. Under the leadership for a C-Suite executive, the D&I agenda is aligned to corporate strategy and has greater visibility to employees.

Retail and Consumer Goods, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, Engineering and Construction, and Technology are industries leading the way in dedicating a C-Suite position to D&I, with at least 40% of respondents indicating this is the case within their organisations.
D&I as a C-Suite priority

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?

Contact us

Bhushan Sethi

Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation, Principal, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (917) 863 9369

Stefanie Coleman

Director, Financial Services People and Organization Practice, PwC United States

Aoife Flood

Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme, PwC Ireland

Tel: + 353 1792 6459

Taylor Goodman

Sr. Manager, People & Organisation, PwC United States

Tel: +1 212 461 9377

Follow us