Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Survey

PwC’s multi-year, global, cross-industry survey explores the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) programmes that organisations have in place, and the impact they are having on employee experience.

Company initiatives around culture, value and purpose will be critical for shaping the future of work, with almost half of business leaders saying those initiatives will differentiate them in a competitive market for talent. As employees, customers, and investors increasingly demand that the organisations they do business with model values of equity and inclusion, organisations are investing at unprecedented rates in DE&I programmes. In doing so, they hope to not only drive higher engagement with these stakeholders, but also enhance financial performance and enable innovation.

Yet, despite this heightened commitment, organisations still have progress to make in designing and executing DE&I programmes. Only 4% of organisations are succeeding in key dimensions of successful DE&I programming.

Continue reading to explore the results of the survey and the causes of this dissonance. Then, take the survey to analyse the maturity of your organisation’s DE&I programme.

Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Survey infographics
Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Survey infographics

What differentiates a leading DE&I programme?

In our experience, the DE&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
  • Reporting objectives and progress externally through transparency reports

Building an inspirational strategy

Creating a business-focused vision and strategy for DE&I that reflects the reality of today and the real potential of tomorrow. Examples include:

  • Identifying DE&I as a priority for driving business results
  • Publicly communicating progress toward meeting goals
  • Designing a response strategy for social justice issues and global events

Developing leadership engagement

Engaging leadership around an inspirational DE&I strategy by articulating the business case and establishing supportive governance, policies and procedures. Examples include:

  • Communicating regularly about DE&I as part of broader discussions about business priorities and results
  • Holding leaders accountable for DE&I results
  • Placing oversight for DE&I with senior leadership and the Board of Directors
  • Externally reporting DE&I metrics, goals, and timelines

Creating sustainable movement

Executing the DE&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

Diving Deeper into Misaligned Perceptions

Below are a few examples of areas for organisations to focus on to address and improve the dissonance between business leaders and employees when it comes to DE&I strategies.

Communication Counts

Vocal leadership support for DE&I sets a ‘tone from the top’ that is critical for success of DE&I initiatives. While only a small percentage of business leaders (11%) believe they are not communicating to employees frequently about DE&I, Employees (17%), HR Professionals (20%) and DE&I Drivers (16%) are nearly twice as likely to think so.

Leaders view affinity networks as strategic; employees disagree

Affinity groups have long been considered a foundational element of DE&I programmes. While most serve as a source of connectivity and mentorship for employees, those that are most impactful are also leveraged to drive the strategic priorities of their organisations. While roughly a quarter (28%) of business leaders believe their organisations leverage affinity groups in this way, roughly a fifth of DE&I drivers (19%) and HR professionals (18%) say the same. Most poignantly, that number is lower again (15%) for employees (who are the target participants for affinity groups).

Employees are unaware of efforts underway to drive a more inclusive culture

Gathering and analysing data on discrepancies in compensation, hiring, performance and promotion is one of the most powerful ways in which organisations can tackle the unconscious biases that undermine an inclusive culture. The majority of respondents (about 80% based on survey data) indicated their organisations have not yet adopted this practice. However, even among those that do, employees are less likely to be aware of these efforts. Survey data shows that business leaders, DE&I drivers, and HR professionals, who are likely closely involved in using data in this way, are all nearly equally likely to say that their organisations gather and analyse performance data by different dimensions of diversity (roughly 30%). However, employees, who are less likely to participate in these processes, are much less likely (roughly 20%) to say these efforts exist at their organisations.

Moving forward: Getting your organisation on the same page when it comes to your DE&I agenda

Business leaders - who may be supportive of DE&I efforts but are further removed from the day-to-day programme activity - may have misconceptions about what’s actually in place in their organisations. As organisations all have subcultures, business leaders may also not be as attuned to behaviors in the workplace that are causing employees to feel that their environment is not inclusive. On the other hand, employees may not be aware of good work that is happening (e.g. data collection across different dimensions of diversity). Both misconceptions need to be corrected to have authentic leadership support and employee engagement in DE&I.

So what can you do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your DE&I investments and effectively engaging all personas in building a more inclusive culture? Start with asking yourself some of the key questions below:

  • Am I getting leaders the right information on DE&I data and programming (e.g. demographic data, retention, updates on DE&I programmes and goals)?
  • Am I using data to monitor the effectiveness of DE&I investments so that I can understand current gaps and opportunities for my DE&I programmes?
  • Am I leveraging affinity groups effectively? Have I assigned them an executive level sponsor, allocated funding, and/or given them a role in driving strategic business decisions?
  • Has DE&I been integrated into all aspects of my organisation (e.g. hiring, performance and development, and supply chain)?

Use these questions as conversation starters; discussions about sensitive political and social issues aren’t the divisive, polarizing distraction that leaders might fear. They can lead to a better understanding of colleagues, a more open and inclusive work environment, and increased empathy. The majority of employees are now saying that transparency is extremely important around their organisation’s record on addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Read more findings about DE&I conversations here in PwC's Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022.


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Contact us

Bhushan Sethi

Bhushan Sethi

Strategy&, Principal, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (646) 471 2377

Sabah Cambrelen

Sabah Cambrelen

Partner, DE&I Consulting Leader, PwC United States

Tel: +1 720 391 2681

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