Nearly half of respondents feel that diversity is a barrier to employee progression: PwC

Although the survey also found that globally, organizations are committing to Diversity and Inclusion at higher rates than ever

PwC conducted a global, cross-industry survey of business, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), and HR leaders who develop and execute their organizations' D&I strategies to understand what programmes their organizations have in place, and the impact they are having on employee experience. The survey found that globally, organizations are committing to D&I at higher rates than ever, with over 90% of respondents indicating that D&I is a stated value or priority for their organization.
However, despite this commitment, even those who lead and execute their organization’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 organizations.
Below is a summary of findings from the survey:
Opportunity to engage younger workers in the D&I agenda
Age – more than gender – is a strong predictor of the degree to which diversity is perceived to be a barrier to progression. 63% of respondents aged 18-29 agreed or strongly agreed with this statement, while only 10% of those over 60 did. This speaks to the untapped opportunity for organizations 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, organizations 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. 93% of respondents whose organizations have a global footprint agree or strongly agree that employees demonstrate a commitment to inclusion – compared to 66% of local companies. However, their counterparts at local organizations are significantly less likely to see diversity as a barrier to progression.
Leadership engagement makes the difference
An organization’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, organizations where diversity is not seen as a barrier to progression are most likely to have one thing in common: a C-Suite executive dedicated to leading the D&I programme.
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 organizations 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, Engineering and Construction, 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.

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