May 21 was the International Day for Cultural Diversity, but what about the focus on diversity in the workplace? Currently, 6 out of 10 companies in Europe are committed to an active neutral recruitment policy. For example, when recruiting new employees, they are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. This is the conclusion of a survey conducted by the European HR and payroll provider SD Worx among 4,371 companies active in various sectors. But when it comes to implementing systems to monitor and report on diversity goals, there is still a long way to go. Nevertheless, employees under the age of 30 place great emphasis on this.
Commitment to gender equality
As many as 61% of all companies surveyed state that they are committed to a neutral recruitment policy, with Ireland (74%), the United Kingdom (68%) and Belgium (69%) completing the European top three. In terms of equal pay and working conditions – regardless of gender, age or religion – Irish (73%), Belgian (72%), English (67%) and Spanish (65%) companies in particular say they are committed. The Netherlands is strikingly out of place, with ‘only’ 51 percent of respondents saying they are actively involved in this.
The question is also how visible companies make their goals and commitment. Just over half of the companies state that they often make events and communication about diversity, equality and inclusion. 60% of European companies report that they pay close attention to promoting an equal and inclusive work culture with a view to greater diversity (Netherlands: 56%). Dutch companies actively communicate about this through vacancies (54%) and their own website (54%). Just over half of European companies also include this in their mission statement and company values (51%; Netherlands 44%).
Reporting and training
To improve their recruitment policies, companies are also actively involving their leaders in diversity, gender equality and inclusion policies. Just over half of the companies surveyed would offer internal training in this area. Poland (62%), Ireland (61%) and the United Kingdom (60%) in particular are taking the cake: they exceed the European average of 53%. The Netherlands invests much less in this with only 44 percent.
Despite the efforts of managers, there is still a lack of clear action in the field of systematic follow-up, such as a well-organized reporting system. This applies, for example, to the evaluation of managers’ commitment to achieving the proposed diversity goals. Almost half of European companies are conducting such an evaluation. Here, too, there is room for improvement in the Netherlands, where 44 percent of companies do this. Belgium in particular is lagging behind by a paltry 29 percent. Often, initiatives for diversity, equality and inclusion only have an effect when companies also actively invest in a reporting system so that they can keep their finger on the pulse at all times.
In total, less than half of the companies claim to actively maintain a plan in which diversity objectives are mapped and followed (Netherlands: 42%). This is especially noticeable in large and international companies with more than 250 employees. New European legislation is currently being drafted that will oblige companies with more than 250 employees from 2024 to actively keep track of such diversity goals.
Alex Spek, portfolio manager SD Worx Holland: “It is important that companies invest in an active reporting system about their activities related to diversity, equality and inclusion. On the one hand, these data provide a strong basis for optimizing diversity policy with concrete and deliberate action. On the other hand, such a tool also provides direct evidence of whether companies are actually putting their word into action and not making false promises to (future) employees. ”
Positive influence on attraction and retention
Remarkably, it is noticeably easier for companies that are aware of diversity, equality and inclusion to attract, motivate and retain new employees. Research shows that it is also often the companies that report higher productivity and profitability.
“There is a growing trend, especially among the younger generation of employees, when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace. Generation Z and younger grow up in an environment that is more or less characterized by inclusion and gender neutrality, something that previously received much less attention. It will affect the future and the way companies recruit new employees, ”says Cathy Geerts, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx. “Not only a good salary and a healthy work-life balance are crucial; also the extent to which the companies position themselves and act in the current spirit of the times is almost crucial for the employees. ”