Without leadership accountability, sustainable results are unlikely. The means of assessing DEI success and holding management accountable for sustainable results have increased in the past year, particularly around issues of underrepresented groups. During the pandemic, there was a wave of global unrest that led to promises to increase representation and DEI efforts, In the United States, after the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, many companies signed pledges to increase Black and sometimes Hispanic representation. Globally, several companies have made commitments to increase women’s representation over a designated period, often 5 to 10 years. This survey shows companies at the highest level of the maturity model hold their senior leaders in each global region accountable by linking the progress directly to performance reviews.
The percentage of companies that said they hold senior leaders accountable for DEI results through performance evaluations increased in all regions, especially Asia, Canada, Europe, Latin/Central/South America and Caribbean, and Oceania, where it almost doubled.
Why is this global increase in accountability happening now? More companies are understanding DEI’s relevance to their business goals and how being accountable gives their business credibility, according to survey respondents.
Career Growth and Advancement
Efforts to encourage employees, especially those from underrepresented groups, to participate in formal mentoring and sponsorship programs (advocacy for promotion or stretch assignment) have increased in every region this year, as organizations focus on helping these individuals reach their full potential. The question specifically references formal programs that include opportunities for people from underrepresented groups, The formal is emphasized to ensure the program is company-sanctioned.
Efforts to create an inclusive culture starting with recruitment have been rising globally. This includes limiting potential bias in the entire process as well as having people from underrepresented groups play key roles in hiring and interviewing.
Making Public Statements and Advocacy
In recent months, some organizations have expressed concern over legislation or other efforts to support DEI. As the chart shows, the change in public advocacy for inclusion-related legislation has been greatest year over year in the United States, where the percentage of companies doing this has dropped almost in half from 63 percent to 33 percent.
Companies’ fear of backlash has been growing—especially in the United States and globally as well, according to many external sources cited here. A number of companies have faced social-media and public discussions over LGBTQ+ support (Adidas, Nike, and Bud Light for use of trans spokespeople/models, Target for selling a bathing suit for trans women who have not had gender-affirming surgery, Chick-fil-A for hiring a vice president of DEI, Cracker Barrel and Major League Baseball for Gay Pride social media posts, and Kohl’s for its Gay Pride clothing collection [which included children’s wear]). Starbucks faced some concerns from workers who claimed the company took down Gay Pride decorations (the company denied this).
There are some examples of companies making efforts to improve society, especially in the United States, Asia, and Europe, to expand educational efforts for underrepresented groups in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.
This was a new question in the survey this year, so there are no year-to-year comparisons in the chart, but the efforts reveal strong corporate initiatives in this area.
Globally, women continue to have fewer opportunities to acquire a quality STEM education, which makes it more difficult for companies to establish talent pipelines with representative women talent. Undergraduate programs in STEM have a noticeable gender gap between men and women, with just under 30 percent of women graduating with STEM degrees. Even when STEM education is accessible, women often are discouraged from pursuing these careers. The often-intense work cultures of technology companies and/or other tech jobs has resulted in women leaving the STEM workforce at much higher rates than men, especially after they have children.
Women hold 26.7 percent of tech-related jobs, but over the past two years the number of women in tech has decreased. MetLife’s 2022 Women in STEM study found 22 percent of women working in STEM are considering leaving their industry, compared to 12 percent of women working in other fields.
Women are considering leaving the field for a variety of reasons, with 32 percent citing stress or burnout as their top reason, and 29 percent “saw others getting promoted ahead of them,” 25 percent reported feeling a lack of purpose, and 20 percent noted a lack of diversity.
To recruit more underrepresented talent globally, current best practices are for companies to start looking outside of traditional tech hubs for potential employees. It is also recommended that companies form relationships with organizations that have ties to underrepresented groups.
Employees with disabilities are also an important pipeline demographic for STEM talent and a group that has been historically undervalued. To attract this talent pool, recruitment best practices include using community organizations and nonprofits to offer internships and other opportunities that build a pipeline and ensure opportunities for career growth through the creation of advisory groups, ERGs, and development programs.