The number of FTSE 100 companies publishing stand-alone diversity & inclusion (D&I) reports has nearly doubled over the last year, according to new research.
Amid growing investor pressure for information on D&I topics, 13 percent of UK blue chips now put out a separate report, compared with 7 percent in May last year, finds a study by creative consultancy Radley Yeldar.
Companies have come under increasing pressure to discuss how they manage and support their employees, a trend driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and global protests over racial equality sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
In the UK, government-commissioned reviews into gender and racial diversity, along with mandatory gender pay-gap reporting, have also helped to push D&I issues up the corporate agenda.
UK companies that have published stand-alone D&I reports include energy giant BP, asset manager abrdn (formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen) and recruitment firm Hays.
‘We expect this upward trend to continue as companies position themselves as employers of choice in response to the ‘great resignation’ and hold themselves to account for commitments made to [D&I] over the past two years of social upheaval,’ says Sharn Kleiss, head of employee experience at Radley Yeldar.
‘Businesses are under more scrutiny from customers, investors and potential candidates, with regards to their contribution to society and the greater good.’
D&I reporting approaches
At the same time, Kleiss points out there is no one right approach to D&I reporting. ‘Instead, we recommend you start with thinking about who you are communicating with, what they will need to know and where they will be looking for information,’ she says.
In a wider survey of UK public and private companies, which gathered responses from 253 HR decision-makers, Radley Yeldar finds that 59 percent are reporting on D&I.
They are disclosing information in a variety of ways, with the most common being the annual report (selected by 57 percent), followed by a stand-alone report (43 percent), employee business updates (43 percent) and sustainability reports (31 percent). Many companies use multiple channels to disclose on this issue.
The results suggest there may be some nervousness around publishing D&I information: only around half of respondents (53 percent) who report on diversity issues say they share their D&I strategy.
‘While our research uncovers several challenges around [D&I] reporting, it’s clear there is a sense of hesitancy when it comes to communicating around D&I accountability – that saying the wrong thing or publishing less-than-flattering figures may incense the general public,’ says Kleiss.
‘That’s why striking the right balance between data and storytelling, evidence and inspiration is so important to effective communication.’