It is now a commonly accepted fact that a diverse workforce operating in an inclusive environment creates a better business performance.
Our experience is that goals, targets and measures set by regulation can help an organisation work towards that. For example, the gender pay gap regulations provide an opportunity for organisations to drive change. It encourages them to take a closer look at the make-up of their own workforce, understand why they have a pay gap, if any, and take action.
At EY, we set public targets on the female, and black and ethnic minority (BME) representation in our new partner intake, measured on a three-year rolling basis. We have also published our gender pay gap data, ahead of the government’s regulatory deadline of April 2018, and went one step further by publishing our ethnicity pay gap figures too. Ethnicity and gender diversity are equally important and we feel they both need to be managed with the same transparency.
What we would like to see is other organisations following suit, voluntarily publishing diversity data beyond that they are required to do so by regulation. We think it will help to increase the level of understanding about how diverse UK business is, and what we can do more of together to improve the representation of minority groups at all ranks.
If the pace of change around improving diversity in all its forms remains slow, then we should not rule out further regulation to do so. It is a critical component in helping the UK to remain competitive and productive in a global market.
However, a workforce that feels comfortable about sharing information about themselves is required in order to accurately report on diversity. Our experience shows that building trust about how the information will be used, as a force for good, and creating a culture where people feel free to be themselves, is key to achieving that.
At EY, we have evaluation tools in place to measure that inclusive feeling. We also aim to communicate what we have achieved as a result of our people sharing their information. We still have work to do here, but the data has been critical to helping to show outcomes and experiences for different groups at EY.
Maggie Stilwell is managing partner for talent at EY