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DEI within the Global Workforce– where to next?

In July 2022, we hosted a webinar on ‘Inclusion in the Global Workforce’ focussing on why inclusion was integral to Global Mobility and on what organisations could do to embed this sense of inclusion into their programmes.

I have spent some time reflecting on what has happened since then. Fortune & Deloitte carry out CEO surveys every six months. In the 15 months since our webinar these surveys have continued to focus on the same four key external issues that leaders believe will influence or disrupt their strategy in the next 12 months. Supply chain disruption, market uncertainty, labour and skills shortage and, the top concern right now, geopolitical instability. Each of these four issues is directly linked to the future of the global workforce – what talent do organisations need, where this talent is located, where this talent needs to be, and how this talent can be tapped into safely in an agile manner.

In our latest Deloitte Dbrief, my colleague Luke Skirrow and I spoke to Elizabeth Keller, Head of International Mobility & Immigration at Standard Chartered and Nick Basannavar, Interim Head of Consulting at Included to revisit this issue and consider ‘Global Mobility’s Role In Diversity, Equity And Inclusion (DE&I)

The summer of 2020 moved the dial on DEI for good – global organisations, and the workforce more generally, were talking about it proactively and openly, and there is data to prove this. LinkedIn reported more than a half million posts on DEI from employees and from 100,000 organisations in June 2020 alone. These conversations led to thousands of organisations making public commitments. Over US$200B was pledged into DEI initiatives between 2020 and 2022. In addition, they pledged to dedicate resources to embedding DEI in the workplace. LinkedIn saw a 67% growth in the number of DEI job openings, 1.65 times higher than any other HR role. Korn Ferry surveyed over 5,000 organisations, 56% of whom said their organisations had established the role of a Chief Diversity Officer post-summer 20201.

All in all, compelling actions that represented a real and tangible opportunity for change.

If we fast forward to 2023 however, a recent survey by Harvard Business Review2 showed that while 60% of organisations said they have a DEI strategy, only a small portion, 26%, had translated it into some tangible outcomes, generally focussed on gender and / or race representation goals. This survey also highlighted that only 12% of DEI leaders have a team dedicated to them.

The consensus in the 2023 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey3 was that organisations have focussed on actions but not outcomes in their DEI agenda. So, a combination of a limited measurable actions and a lack of influence and agency has seen 60% of Chief Diversity Officers at S&P 500 companies leave their role after an average tenure of 1.8 years, the shortest tenure of any C-suite roles. If this was not enough, 2022 saw a higher attrition of DEI roles, 33%, compared to 21% for non-DEI roles.

Based on this data set it could be argued that perhaps the spotlight on DEI has been reduced.

However, 86% of 10,000 leaders in 105 countries who were polled for the 2023 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey said that embedding DEI into everyday working and measuring outcomes is (very) important to their organisations’ success, a 10% increase from 2020. This increased focus on DEI becomes key for anyone with a global workforce because by 2030:

  • If we continue as we are, we are looking at a significant talent shortage, over 85 million people in certain parts of the world, and organisations will need to expand the talent pool that they source their skills from4.
  • 58% of all global workforces will be made up of the most ethnically and racially diverse generations – Gen Z and Millennials.

-  These Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to make career decisions based on personal values, declining assignments and employment offers for ethical reasons.

So, with this increased focus on DEI, expectations from Global Mobility functions continue to expand and again there is data to prove this. The 2023 AirInc Mobility Outlook Survey highlighted that the #1 aim for organisations it to sync their Global Mobility programme with their organisations’ global talent strategy over the next few years. This is because 51% of organisations expect requests to tap into global talent, physically and remotely, to increase and 48% of organisations want to purposefully use international opportunities to attract and retain this global talent.

But only 25% of organisations are ready to do what is needed in the DEI space more generally. So, the question to explore is how can Global Mobility respond to this shifting landscape and do more with less?

Discussions with Elizabeth at Standard Chartered (SCB) and Nick at Included during our recent EMEA Dbriefs highlighted three key pillars for organisations to further their DEI agenda:

Define your metrics for success: SCB focussed on doing the right thing for their people. This led to Global Mobility identifying and acting on what they could change across the key areas that Included identified during the Webcast e.g., providing good governance (robust frameworks) and leadership (instil clear principles for GM professionals) in how the programme is delivered, whilst embedding DEI-focused policies, processes, and systems.

Collaborate with the business: Ensuring that Global Mobility understand what the business expects of them in contributing to a broader talent / DEI strategy is critical. For SCB, one such ask was to deliver the ‘Asia One Hundred’ programme, which aimed to provide international opportunities to 100 SCB Asian employees – SCB had more than double their target number of registrants within the first few weeks of the programme being launched.

Be there: It is key for Global Mobility to deliver tangible progress to the business and its people and one way to do this is to learn and evolve. For SCB this has translated to listening to their people, learning what they can do differently or better for the people that follow. These acts build trust and emphasises to people that their experiences matter. As explained by Nick from Included during the Webcast, obtaining DEI data, including data on lived experiences, is often a barrier to progress. Identifying the data available already and encouraging people to share their data, where allowed to do so is and will continue to be key to identifying opportunities for enhancement.

Overall, organisations must understand their duty of care for employees undertaking a global move, considering the individual's experience, family, and cultural understanding.  They should identify variables within the organisation's control and focus on them.

Whilst there are a myriad of challenges and potential obstacles to making tangible progress within the DEI space, understanding your programme's role within the wider organisation's strategy is critical to identifying what you can put strategy into practice and where you can be most impactful.  So, what will you do next?


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2023 Global human capital trends | Deloitte Insights

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