10 minute read 17 Sep 2019
Diverse coworkers helping each other

Everybody in? EY Ireland 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Survey Report

Authors

Olivia McEvoy

Ernst & Young — Ireland (EY Ireland) People Advisory Services Director

Diversity & Inclusion Director and Advocate . Aspires to a world where diversity, inclusion and equality are championed and celebrated. Sporty Spice.

Niamh O'Beirne

Ernst & Young — Ireland (EY Ireland) People Advisory Services Partner and Head of Government and Health for Advisory

Government and Health Industry leader. Diversity and inclusion advocate. Mother of three children.

10 minute read 17 Sep 2019

Welcome to EY Ireland’s 2019 Diversity & Inclusion survey report

There is still a ‘D&I disconnection’ between what organisations are saying and what they are doing in this space. Concerted strategic effort is required with transformative change to systems, structures and processes.

Our third survey of Diversity & Inclusion in organisations on the island of Ireland was conducted between November 2018 and January 2019. During this time, we surveyed more than 150 C-suite leaders, Human Resource Directors and Diversity & Inclusion Leads. Respondents were drawn from both indigenous Irish and global organisations of varying sizes, across a range of diverse sectors, resulting in a sample range that is highly reflective of the market in Ireland.

It is encouraging to note that the considerable appetite for D&I remains constant; 100% of businesses now say it is vital to business performance and recognise the impact of thought diversity on decision and risk excellence. However, there is still a ‘D&I disconnection’ between what organisations are saying and what they are doing in this space. 

Leadership behaviour is the cornerstone of an inclusive environment and enables a culture of psychological safety, but there are still too few taking responsibility to call out inappropriate behaviour and language. Investment is also inextricably linked to enhanced organisational reputation, decision making and talent attraction, but yet too many organisations invest little to nothing. With ‘business as usual’ often enough to overwhelm, it is easy to get distracted and presume that if ‘someone else’ in the business is talking about it, it is enough. Indeed, lots of talk about it, leads us to believe that the D&I box is being ticked. But box ticking is not enough. Talking is simply not enough. 

In order to make meaningful change, there has to be a concerted strategic effort with transformative change to systems, structures and processes, otherwise it will be all too slow. As evidenced in the report, there is some progress in a number of areas but regression in others and certainly nothing like the ‘gear change’ called for last year. Rather than make exaggerated claims or simply aspire to progress, we need to be able to proclaim positive outcomes and actual results and really ‘deliver on D&I’. Everybody in?

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Chapter 1

Executive summary

The understanding, investment and prioritisation of Diversity & Inclusion in organisations

Still a huge gap between the importance organisations report they attach to D&I and what translates into action.

The survey found that 100% of organisations acknowledge the importance of an inclusive environment as vital for business performance. Though encouraging, there is still a huge gap between the importance organisations report they attach to D&I and what translates into action. Just 16% of organisations measure the impact of D&I on performance and even where considered a business priority, only 53% have a strategy in place. 

This is further evidenced by the lack of data collection and measurement of D&I in general and only 41% setting goals with targets. Most lack the means to visually present the data. 31% of organisations spend €0 on D&I. There is consistency across 2018 and 2019 in the top four areas where organisations have seen a positive impact due to progress in D&I. They include ‘strengthened cultural values’ (63%), ‘improved engagement and productivity of existing staff’ (43%), ‘increased ability to attract and retain highly talented people’ (37%) and ‘enhanced corporate reputation’ (35%). 

Leading from the front 

There has been an increase in the gender composition of boards, with women on boards increasing by 5% to 31%. Despite that, Boards remain predominantly white (92%) and male (69%). The majority of Boards do not have any representation from LGBT persons or persons with disabilities. 

Lack of leadership accountability 

The disconnection between what is aspired to and what is actioned is again evident, with just 23% of senior leadership held accountable for implementing D&I strategies and having targets tied to their performance metrics. Despite the low levels of accountability for implementing D&I strategies, some 43% of senior leadership have undertaken inclusive leadership training. Just 27% of Board members have undertaken inclusive leadership training. 67% of organisations also ‘need more support’ from their senior leadership to advance D&I significantly.  

Gender pay gap 

Some 59% of respondents favour regulation or legislation as a driver for creating more diverse and inclusive organisations. In advance of the specific legislation pertaining to the gender pay gap, 35% of organisations have already taken appropriate measures to address the causes of any gender pay gap. Yet, just 60% believe their own people are aware of the difference between ‘equal pay’ and the ‘gender pay gap’. While 83% of organisations aspire to gender parity across all levels of the organisation, 13% explicitly state that they do not. In addition, some 29% believe men are more likely to be promoted to leadership positions in their organisation. 

Smart working 

While the demand for smart working is gender neutral, it is the most common action companies took to address the gender pay gap in the UK since the implementation of legislation in 2017. Many organisations (71%) indicate they have a smart working culture that is ‘open to everyone’ while just 12% suggest they do not. However, just over half of team leads (55%) are trained or equipped to support people on their teams with smart working arrangements.  

Disability inclusion 

In spite of the progress made in terms of smart working, disability inclusion remains a key challenge for organisations. Three quarters of organisations (74%) do not have persons with disabilities in senior leadership roles. 

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Chapter 2

State of the nation: Diversity and Inclusion in Ireland

The impact of challenges to and supports needed to progress D&I

100% of organisations in Ireland now say ‘an inclusive environment is vital for business performance.’ A further 80.5% say it is a ‘business priority in our organisation’ and 82.1% recognise ‘the link between thought diversity and better decision making’. 

Just 16.3% of organisations measure the impact of D&I on performance (e.g. sales revenue, profitability and team performance).  

This may help explain the chasm between the importance organisations say they attach to D&I versus what translates into action; if organisations are not measuring the impact, how can D&I compete with multiple business priorities? Even where D&I is considered a business priority, just 53.1% have a strategy in place. Culture Three quarters of organisations (76.4%) align their D&I efforts with their overall programme on culture and/or purpose with strengthened cultural values a key positive impact due to progress in D&I. 

There is a strong sense that organisations are largely accepting of difference, with 85.6% of the view that ‘people of non-Irish ethnicity are fully accepted and integrated into our organisation’. However, just over half (52.5%) call out non-inclusive language or behaviour. An essential element of an inclusive culture is to ensure non-inclusive language or behaviour is not tolerated in an organisation. This is another strong example of the gap between words and action on D&I. 

Investment  

While there has been an increase in the number of organisations spending over €50,000 on D&I (21% compared to 15.3% in 2018) almost one-third (31%) do not allocate any budget to D&I and 43.0% spend less than €25,000. The majority of that investment is in a combination of events (63.8%), networks and network membership fees (52.2% and 40.6% respectively) and sponsorship (30.4%). There has also been an increase in spend on training (63.8% compared to 52.1% in 2018), including leadership training (50.7%) over the last year. There is a direct correlation between investment and impact with organisations spending more than €50,000. Those organisations reported significantly more favourable outcomes, most notably in improved engagement and productivity, increased ability to attract talent, enhanced corporate reputation and better decision making. 

Impact, challenges and support  

There is remarkable consistency in the top four areas where organisations have seen a positive impact due to progress in D&I across 2018 and 2019. 

They include: 

 • Strengthened cultural values

 • Improved engagement and productivity of existing staff  

• Increased ability to attract and retain highly talented people 

• Enhanced corporate reputation 

The top two challenges for organisations remain the ‘allocation of resources’ and ‘time’. ‘Not collecting and/ or effectively analysing D&I data’ is now recognised as a greater issue, with 27.6% of organisations citing this as an issue compared to 15.9% in 2018. ‘Limited drive from leadership’ is also a more pertinent issue this year (23.5% compared to 15.9%). A more significant challenge this year is ‘limited understanding of the business case’, ‘lack of relevant expertise and experience on D&I’, ‘not attracting or retaining diverse employees’ and being ‘uncertain where to start’.

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Chapter 3

About EY’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services

Our transformation approach is designed to deliver systemic change

With a focus on sustainable and impactful transition we are committed to helping clients accelerate towards a culture of inclusion.

The Diversity & Inclusion team is part of EY’s People Advisory Service. Our service offering leverages extensive knowledge and experience of current best practices, garnered from both national and international businesses. We help you reach your Diversity & Inclusion objectives and leave an enduring legacy that is resilient to disruption in global demographics and technology advances. With a focus on sustainable and impactful transition we are committed to helping clients accelerate towards a culture of inclusion. 

Diversity & Inclusion Transformation Programme

Our transformation approach is designed to deliver systemic change for organisations helping clients develop the processes, capability and behaviours required to achieve lasting change.  These services can be delivered as an integrated programme or as individual modules.  

D&I Strategy   

Setting out the business case for the organisation and the roadmap for their Diversity & Inclusion ambitions, we help our clients to develop a strategy that is integrated into the broader talent and business strategy and focused on delivering sustainable business growth through inclusion. 

D&I Diagnostic  

To diagnose the issues and establish current state we first gather information using quantitative and qualitative methods and benchmarking tools. We then pinpoint the factors that impact employee experience, ensuring future strategy is bespoke, realistic and evidence-based.  

Change & Capability development  

Our training programmes enhance inclusive leadership, team performance and collaboration and help build highly effective and diverse teams. Inclusive leadership and conscious-thinking training increases the awareness of biased behaviour and helps people inspire, manage and operate in diverse teams.

Analytics  

Agreed data sets are gathered and input into dynamic reporting tools to enable new insights, identify underlying causes and the key drivers of gaps, trends and patterns. This evidence base informs our recommendations and the specific context for agreed actions. This includes the Gender Pay Gap and our 'FlexIndex' tool.

“At Cpl our goal is to attract, develop and retain the best, brightest and most diverse workforce. This development programme has allowed us to really understand our unconscious bias and has given us the practical skills needed for greater inclusion.”  Anne Heraty, CEO

“By providing a dedicated programme of training on inclusive leadership, we demonstrate that we want our most senior people to be role models and advocates in this area. Adopting such a programme will drive high performance in our teams, be better for our clients and ensure that all our employees can be their best.”  Sharon Vize, HR Director

Download the full report for detailed findings, commentary, cast studies and much more. 

 

Summary

The considerable appetite for D&I remains constant; 100% of businesses now say it is vital to business performance and recognise the impact of thought diversity on decision and risk excellence. However, there is still a ‘D&I disconnection’ between what organisations are saying and what they are doing in this space.

About this article

Authors

Olivia McEvoy

Ernst & Young — Ireland (EY Ireland) People Advisory Services Director

Diversity & Inclusion Director and Advocate . Aspires to a world where diversity, inclusion and equality are championed and celebrated. Sporty Spice.

Niamh O'Beirne

Ernst & Young — Ireland (EY Ireland) People Advisory Services Partner and Head of Government and Health for Advisory

Government and Health Industry leader. Diversity and inclusion advocate. Mother of three children.