Progressing towards diversity and inclusion goals is becoming managed in the same way as corporate and financial performance

Executive leadership team’s appreciation for the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace has increased significantly over the past three years, according to research carried out by Heidrick & Struggles.

Practices that were considered ‘leading edge’ three years ago – such as clearly defined DE&I programmes and links to business strategies and outcomes – were only followed by 20% of companies at the time, and are now followed by almost 60% of companies as they moved to the realm of a minimum requirement, must-have for organisations.

Growing stakeholder demand

The main reasons for this increased importance is down to stakeholder demand, from across the spectrum of customers, employees, and the wider business ecosystem. 

Globally, the report found that progressing towards DE&I goals is becoming increasingly viewed and managed in the same way as corporate and financial performance.

In companies globally, race or ethnicity is the most important characteristic, followed closely by gender, nationality, and disability. 

Priya Dixit Vyas, partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ London office, commented: “Across the globe, it is encouraging to see the much-needed recognition for the undeniable impact that diversity, equity, and inclusion have on business success.

“It’s clear that successful companies lead with an intentional, well-articulated, and deep-rooted commitment to a culture that drives a systemic, holistic, whole-company focus on inclusion.

“Ultimately, success in shaping a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture is dependent on intent and accountability - and this starts at the top of every organisation.”

The findings in this report are based on the results of a survey of 420 executives from eight countries; Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.