Interim Head of Business Nuala Murphy takes a look at why diversity, equality and inclusion have never been more important.
‘Supporting women in work to achieve their ambitions, whatever they may be, has been a focus of mine over the past eight years through my voluntary capacity as a Lean In Network leader. We have seen thousands of women from across all industries benefit from being part of the Lean In Circle programme in their communities and organisations.
The benefits have seen eight out of 10 women saying that being part of a supportive group has had a positive impact on their lives, in work we have seen those who wanted a promotion, change in working patterns or indeed change in career, fulfil their goals.
Companies with more women on their boards, perform better. Mixed gender startups raise more money and build more inclusive products. More diverse teams perform better.
Since taking up my role with Diversity Mark, I have been encouraged to see the commitment among the growing number of signatories to their ‘Mark of Progress’ across Ireland and the UK. There is no doubt the pandemic shone a light on the disproportioned work women do at home and in work compared to male colleagues and partners and as such, leaders had to take heed and find ways to better support and enable their employees.
According to the McKinsey LeanIn.org Women In The Workplace study 2021: “At a time when the stakes have never been higher, women are showing up as better people-focused leaders and stronger advocates for diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) they are more likely, than men at their levels, to take consistent steps to promote employee well-being, such as checking in on their team members and helping them manage their workloads.
“They are also more likely to support DEI initiatives and to be active allies to women of colour. But although this work drives better outcomes for all employees, it is going largely overlooked by companies.”
The key findings
More than 90% of companies track women’s overall representation, but only 65% track gender differences in promotion rates.
Almost 70% of companies hold senior leaders accountable for progress on diversity goals – but only 30% hold managers, who play a critical role in hiring and promotion decisions, accountable. Only 34% of employees have participated in anti-racism training in the past year.
Senior-level women are twice as likely as senior-level men to spend substantial time on DEI work that falls outside their formal job responsibilities.
Some 86% of companies say it’s “very or extremely” critical that managers support their team members’ well-being, but only twenty-five percent formally recognise those who do this – and a similar trend holds for DEI work.
When managers take action to promote employee well-being and companies prioritise DEI, employees are happier, less burned out, and less likely to consider leaving their company.
To drive change, companies need to invest deeply in all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To improve representation of all women across the pipeline, companies need to double down on reducing bias in reviews and promotions, and they need to hold leaders and managers accountable for progress. But diversity in numbers isn’t enough. Companies also need to create a culture that fully leverages the benefits of diversity – one in which women, and all employees, feel comfortable bringing their unique ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table.
What action can we take?
You can start and continue your own journey by joining the rapidly growing Diversity Mark community of signatories across Ireland and the UK and commit to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees can feel valued and supported to do their best work. We want to support you and enable your success in this area. Not only will it help you attract and retain staff, but it will contribute to building a more equal, representative and inclusive society that at the end of the day is good for our economy.’