Tag: DE&I

UK companies emphasise ESG practices to attract ethically conscious talent

A cousin of DEI, ESG (that is, environmental and social governance) is top of mind for many job candidates. Beyond compliance, employers can get serious about ethics to attract socially driven talent. But what makes a company ethical?

Researchers at nonprofit Ethisphere created a list of gold-standard companies when it comes to ethics, based on some fundamental criteria: environmental and social impact, governance principles, workplace well-being, legal compliance track record and structured compliance programmes. Leading this year’s list of “world’s most ethical companies” are employers across industries, including Apple, Ecolab, HP Intel, PepsiCo and Workday. Most companies on the list had a chief ethics and/or compliance officer, according to Ethisphere’s report, published Monday.

Likewise, 99% of the gold-standard companies said they brief their board of directors on benchmark progress. Additionally, 93% of companies reported involving their ethics team in pre-acquisition talks. Ethisphere’s researchers framed their data analysis as a guide to “future-proofing” companies — essentially, shielding them from cancel culture. They contrasted honourees against Boohoo and its “modern slavery” allegations in 2020, FTX and its 2022 downfall, and Silicon Valley Bank, which crashed and burned in March.

Additional studies confirm that, parallel to increased consumer interest in a brand’s ethics practices, worker interest in a potential employer’s values is at the fore. PwC reported in 2021 that 83% of consumers surveyed think companies should be honing their ESG best practices; 86% of workers surveyed “prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues they do,” researchers said.

HR managers looking to retain and attract millennials, as well as Gen Zers, for their multigenerational workplace should know that ESG is especially important to these groups; a Society for Human Resource Management report from March indicated as much. HR pros can take a number of steps to make a company more ethical, according to Ethisphere and other sources.

For example, HR should work to hold the C-suite accountable for meeting DEI goals, stakeholders said at a summit last week — be that through performance reviews, increased data collection or revamped executive compensation strategy.

Employers also can move to create formal ethics and compliance programmes if they don’t already have one, the Ethisphere report recommended.

“Providing the head of an ethics and compliance programme with some variation of the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer title is becoming a baseline expectation,” Ethisphere Sr. Compliance Counsel Jodie Fredericksen said in the report. Previously, the research firm found that this role was “dual-hatted” with the general counsel role; now, it’s less common, the report said.

And when it comes to shedding light on misconduct, HR can examine how it’s reported (think: a hotline), how it’s investigated and ultimately, how an ethics issue is resolved, according to Ethisphere. The same goes for ethics and compliance trainings, audit best practices and risk assessments, and communication therein.

Finally, Ethisphere continually pointed to transparency in its report. Organisations that lead the pack with ethics and compliance programmes clue in any “overseeing governing authorities” about programmes, on “a routine basis,” Fredericksen said. The goal is to ensure governing bodies understand how the compliance programme is working, beyond reporting and investigations, Fredericksen added.

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The rise of ESG as a business imperative

Employers are currently confronting a crucial moment when it comes to focusing on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, driven by the societal, geopolitical, and economic challenges of recent years. With workplace flexibility, equity and diversity, and the pressing climate crisis at the forefront, companies are under increasing pressure to take meaningful action. ESG has become not just a moral imperative but also a business necessity. While sustainability initiatives have dominated the ESG conversation, attention is now shifting towards the social aspect, encompassing the goals companies establish, monitor, and share.

In the year 2023 and beyond, there are three key social areas that companies should prioritize. The past couple of years have blurred the boundaries between personal and professional lives for many of the 160 million individuals in the U.S. workforce, leading to feelings of isolation and widespread burnout. Disturbingly, in 2022, 2 out of 5 workers reported that their mental health had been negatively affected by their work environment. High levels of stress among employees can result in increased absenteeism and reduced engagement, ultimately impacting a company’s bottom line.

Fortunately, by prioritizing mental health and personal development, employers can foster a positive cultural shift. Implementing initiatives like “mental health” or “no meeting” days, wellness breaks, and short-term disability coverage can significantly boost company morale. Particularly during uncertain times, building a culture of trust and flexibility has been proven to enhance employee engagement, productivity, talent retention, and overall satisfaction.

Equality, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility have long been essential targets for most companies’ social goals. It has become customary for companies to collect and disclose data on how they ensure equality across racial, cultural, generational, gender, and other dimensions, including intersectionality. Astonishingly, 76% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce when evaluating potential employers. Diverse companies experience 2.5 times higher cash flow per employee, and those that prioritize gender diversity are 15% more likely to surpass their industry’s median financial returns.

Mentorship and sponsorship are powerful tools to bolster employee morale and engagement. Recent research indicates that inclusive mentorship programs play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining diverse talent, with women and minority groups recognizing the value of mentorship and sponsorship in their career development. It comes as no surprise that companies aiming to “make a difference” will continue to play a significant role in 2023 and beyond. Employees and consumers expect the companies they support to stand for something, with 70% stating that their sense of purpose is derived from their work.

Companies must leverage employees’ sense of purpose to guide executive decisions and track the progress of their commitments. Employees need to see their leaders not only talk about these values but also act upon them. Initiatives that are easy to implement, such as volunteer days, fundraisers, donation-matching, and environmental pledges to combat the climate crisis, exemplify mutual aid and can greatly benefit a company’s workforce as well as the planet.

In many ways, the tumultuous early 2020s accelerated progress in addressing long-overdue issues. Employees, shareholders, and consumers have clearly expressed the values they prioritize, and companies must listen and respond accordingly. The companies that invest in, measure, and transparently communicate progress on their social programs will thrive. Will your company be among them?

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Innova Solutions settles immigration bias claims

Georgia-based IT staffing firm Innova Solutions, formerly known as American CyberSystems Inc., has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice following allegations of immigration-related bias. The Department of Justice revealed that the company had advertised two positions in a manner that discriminated against certain applicants based on their citizenship statuses.

According to the Department, one of the allegations against Innova Solutions involved a discriminatory advertisement that exclusively targeted US citizens and lawful permanent residents while excluding US nationals, refugees, and individuals seeking asylum. The department further noted that the advertised position required access to materials subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Export Administration Regulations.

The Department explained that employers are required by law to obtain special authorization from the US government for certain workers if their roles involve accessing export-controlled items. However, under these regulations, US nationals, asylees, and refugees possess the same privileges as US citizens and lawful permanent residents, and no authorization is necessary for employers to share export-controlled items with these workers. Consequently, the Department concluded that Innova Solutions had no justifiable reason to exclude these individuals from the hiring process.

The company faced another allegation for posting a separate job advertisement that specifically targeted workers with temporary work visas, according to the Department.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized that employers must not engage in unlawful discrimination based on an individual’s citizenship status during the job advertising process. The Department expressed this sentiment in a press release.

As part of the settlement, Innova Solutions has agreed to provide training to its recruiting and human resources staff regarding the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. The company will also conduct a comprehensive review of its policies to ensure compliance with relevant laws and will be subject to monitoring and reporting requirements imposed by the Department. Additionally, Innova Solutions will be required to pay a civil penalty.

In response to the settlement, Innova Solutions released a statement to Staffing Industry Analysts, asserting its commitment to inclusive hiring practices and denying any unlawful discrimination or violation of the law. The company, identified as a Minority Business Enterprise, confirmed that it is collaborating with the IER (Immigrant and Employee Rights) to ensure ongoing compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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Decline in C-suite support for DEI efforts

According to a press release by DDI, a research firm, there has been an 18% decline in C-suite support for company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts over the past two years. The report also indicates that the number of companies not offering DEI programs has increased from 15% to 20% in the same period.

As a result, many leaders, particularly women and those from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds, are questioning their company’s commitment to inclusion and belonging. DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research Director, Stephanie Neal, expressed concerns about this trend.

Experts in labor and DEI are struggling to determine whether the foundation laid in 2020 remains solid, with reports from Glassdoor and Gartner suggesting that progress has stalled. Although the number of diversity and inclusion initiatives cataloged by Glassdoor increased from 29% in 2019 to 43% in 2021, it dipped slightly to 41% in 2022. Similarly, a Gartner report in January suggested that leaders lack enthusiasm in adopting inclusion-focused values, with DEI leaders expressing frustration at the lack of buy-in from business leaders.

In light of these developments, labor experts have suggested that HR managers can draw out the connection between inclusion and belonging and employee engagement to encourage business leaders to recommit to DEI efforts.

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Three out of the four local authorities with the most high-paying senior roles are within London

Research has been carried out to see if there is a regional bias – when it comes to where the highest number of senior positions are held.

Moneyzine.com carried out research to shed light on which UK local authorities and regions had the highest and lowest concentrations of senior roles.

Key Findings:

  • The largest disparity of where senior positions are held is between Chelsea and Kensington (26.6%) and Kingston Upon Hull (7%), closely followed by Westminster (22.55%) compared to only (7.8%) in Middlesbrough.
  • Comparing 10 regions across England and Wales, the average concentration of such roles is 12.23%
  • The South East (14.88%) and London (14.55%) have a higher concentration of senior roles in comparison to Wales (10.51%) and the North East (9.88%).

Jonathan Merry, CEO of Moneyzine.com, said: “This data shows that inequality in professional opportunities is less about broad regional divides – and more about specific areas of high concentration or deprivation. Chelsea is just an hour from Barking, yet has more than 3x more senior officials.”

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18% of those job seekers identified as disabled

Skills-based inclusive hiring platform, Clu, has announced that it has helped almost 7,000 job seekers from marginalised groups to find work in the UK job market.

Amongst the 6,838 who have secured work, 18% identified as disabled, 14% as non-binary, 10% as neurodiverse, 5% as refugees and 2% as veterans, proving that employers can build high-performing teams inclusively with the effective use of AI driven recruitment technology.

According to the company’s annual Impact Report, 88% of the placements secured were retained for 12 months, showing the long term positive social mobilisation for these underrepresented groups. A report by The Sutton Trust revealed that closing the UK’s social mobility gap by just 2% would add a substantial £40 billion to the economy by 20301, highlighting the importance of prioritising skills over experience to support underrepresented groups in the hiring process which will ultimately fuel the UK economy.

The report revealed that the most successful job roles matched by the software included customer service, account management and data analyst roles. According to the data, an underrepresented job seeker is skills-matched to a job opportunity every 20 seconds in Clu, with 86% of candidates saying they felt more confident applying for work when they understand their skills-alignment to a role, demonstrating the mental health benefits to successfully matching candidates to roles they would be great at.

Clu’s offering is said to remove long standing barriers to the job market using proprietary ethical algorithms and unparalleled data sets across skills, demographics, and geographies to match candidates to jobs based on what they can do, not where they learnt to do it.

By leveraging its newly launched Clu’d Up toolkit, employers using Clu can now also identify weak points around recruitment inclusion and accessibility and correct them before they impact the selection process, ensuring that every candidate is evaluated fairly and based on their skills and suitability for a role. Ultimately giving them access to skills-aligned diverse talent, quicker.

Disabled himself, Joseph Williams CEO of Clu, commented: “There is so much untapped talent sitting in diverse groups that are overlooked and underestimated before they even get to interview stage.

“By removing arbitrary barriers to entry and relying on effective ethical AI and better-quality data to hire based on what a person can do, not where they are from, we can get thousands more back into work and kick start the UK economy.

“However, to truly prioritise inclusion, we must embrace systems that empower every skilled job seeker to excel in jobs they’d be great at, not just a select few. The urgency for better hiring data is clear: we risk perpetuating and even worsening systemic inequalities without it.  Everyone deserves to feel valued, included and set up for success in the hiring process and we won’t stop until we achieve this reality.”

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Apprenticeships are boosting retention for firms across the UK 

According to a new report, apprenticeships are improving employability and pay for employees, whilst boosting revenue and diversity for businesses. 

Multiverse’s 2023 report on the impact of apprentices on business and individuals, reveals an overwhelming retention rate for apprentices, with 93% remaining at the same company after their scheme.  

Research reveals that six in ten of apprentices starting out in their careers are from Black, Asian or multiple ethnicity backgrounds, compared to universities where more than seven in ten students are white.  

 A staggering 96%, of Multiverse’s early career apprentices, have stayed in work or training after their apprenticeship and employability exceeds those of graduates, with graduate employment at just 87% last year. 

  The data finds that the work of apprentices has directly resulted in more than £550m in cost-saving or revenue-generating activities for businesses across the country working with the apprenticeship provider. 

This comes as the average apprentice now outearns university graduates with prestigious law degrees by more than £5,000. The analysis finds that the average Multiverse apprentice now earns between £26,000 and £30,000 a year. By comparison, 15 months after leaving university, law graduates earn an average of £21,500 according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The average Multiverse apprentice also outearns graduates with a host of other degrees, including architecture (£25,000), business and management (£24,000), and psychology (£21,500).  

Euan Blair, CEO of Multiverse, said:  “Our ambition is to create a diverse group of future leaders who can support businesses to succeed in an environment where tech, digital, and data skills are at a premium. What’s clear is that apprenticeships are going from strength to strength as a truly outstanding alternative to university, with apprentices providing immense value to businesses. Our programmes are giving firms the opportunity to boost revenue, productivity, diversity, and fill essential skills gaps that will meet their needs today and in the future.We’ll keep expanding these high-quality opportunities to work, learn, and earn – and it’s our ambition to develop high-potential talent with the skills they need across every corner of the country.” 

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EEOC report shows federal workforce diversity progress, room for improvement

According to an update from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March 23, 2020, Hispanic women and people with disabilities in the federal workforce made significant progress. However, the EEOC pointed out that some inequities still exist. Most demographic groups had higher participation rates in lower positions and pay levels, except for White men, Hispanic men, and Asian men and women, who had higher participation in senior executive levels. The EEOC recommended better recruitment, retention, and advancement opportunities for all levels, especially in higher-level positions.

As the federal government is the largest employer in the country with over 2 million employees, the EEOC report may provide insights into trends at companies nationwide. The report found that most groups by race/ethnicity and gender participated in the federal workforce at higher rates than in the civilian labor force. However, some groups had rates below that level, such as White women and men, and women of two or more races. In contrast, Hispanic and Latina women saw an increase in participation rates from FY 2016 to FY 2020.

Participation rates also increased for persons with disabilities (PWD) and persons with targeted disabilities (PWTD) associated with high rates of unemployment and underemployment. However, the increases were still below the federal sector goals of 12% for PWD and 2% for PWTD. Additionally, compliance with a direct reporting structure showed mixed results, with about 37% of federal agencies not having the agency head as the immediate supervisor of the EEO director.

The EEOC report serves as a reminder that employers can take steps to create a more inclusive workplace for everyone, even as return-to-work plans and hybrid schedules continue to shift, especially as the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 33rd anniversary in July.

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Study Shows Effectiveness of DEI Initiatives Varies by Sector

According to a recent study conducted by RW3 CultureWizard, a provider of diversity and inclusion training, the effectiveness of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives varied by sector among nearly 140,000 corporate workers analyzed. The Global Inclusion Analytics Index, released on Monday, evaluated responses based on three dimensions: inclusive behavior, exposure to diversity, and cognitive flexibility.

The financial services sector scored 4.5% lower than the average on the “trustworthiness” dimension, while the communication services sector scored almost 9% above average on cognitive flexibility. Inclusive behavior was found to be higher than average in the communication services, consumer products, and education/non-profit sectors. The education/non-profit sector scored above average on both current and past exposure to diversity, while the materials and industrials sector had a lower score. On cognitive flexibility, the energy and financial services sectors had low scores, while communication services and consumer staples had high scores.

RW3 CultureWizard President Charlene Solomon emphasized the importance of having a complete set of data to measure the return on investment of DEI training and development, especially given the significant expenditures made by organizations in this area.

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The proposed bill aims to make this data publicly available

Transparency has become a crucial element in achieving diversity, equity, and socially responsible corporate governance. This is the driving force behind the newly proposed bill, S. 636, according to a provision in the bill. The provision stated that companies often claim their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), environmental goals, or other causes, but there is little data available to the public to verify these claims.

The proposed bill aims to make this data publicly available, creating an environment where companies can be held accountable for their claims. It will also provide consumers, employees, and investors with the necessary information to make informed decisions and deploy capital in line with their values.

This push for transparency related to corporate DEI efforts has recently received support from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC rejected Eli Lilly’s argument to exclude a DEI-related proposal from proxy material for an upcoming annual meeting. The proposal was submitted by shareholder As You Sow, an advocacy group based in Berkeley, California, and requests that Eli Lilly report to shareholders on the efficacy of the company’s DEI efforts, with metrics on hiring, retention, and promotions that include gender, race, and ethnicity data.

Many businesses are not required to share such data publicly, but private employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees and contracts of $50,000 or more are required to annually report data about employee race, gender, and ethnicity by job category, according to the EEOC.

While there are no financial penalties for not filing the EEO-1 report, civil penalties can be severe, and employers should be aware of this. The EEOC is also considering reinstating a pay reporting requirement to the EEO-1.

In summary, the proposed bill, S. 636, highlights the importance of transparency in achieving diversity, equity, and socially responsible corporate governance. It aims to make necessary data publicly available to hold companies accountable and provide consumers, employees, and investors with the information to make informed decisions. The SEC’s recent support for transparency in corporate DEI efforts further emphasizes the importance of this issue.

New York advances bill requiring employers to report worker race, gender data

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