Elevate Pledge Report: Evidence that building inclusive workplaces strengthens social cohesion

BITCI News - Apr 25, 2024

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) launched its 3rd annual Elevate, The Inclusive Workplace, Pledge Report which presents a diversity profile of the workforce drawn from 60 signatory companies. Spanning a combined workforce of over 150,000 employees it is clear some strides have been made especially in the area of gender recruitment and progression, but other areas need more urgent action.  

As a network promoting responsible and sustainable business practices, BITCI set the intention of the Pledge to improve social inclusion by getting companies to proactively measure, disclose and profile their workforce so it mirrors the diversity within society. By signing up to the Pledge, companies are making a collective public commitment to social inclusion.  

Key findings from this year’s report include: 

  • Elevate signatories are performing better on gender representation than the wider population – 40% representation of females at senior and executive level compared to 30% reported in the Gender Balance in Business Survey (CSO 2023). 
  • More organisations (28 out of 60) are collecting disability data on their employees. This is important given these companies will be expected to provide such data as part of their workforce diversity obligations within regulations of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). 
  • There has been a steady increase across different ethnicity groups at all organisational levels except at management level (Executive / C-suite).  
  • 34 signatories partnered with employment support organisations that work with the unemployed.  

Linda O’Sullivan, Head of Social Inclusion, BITCI said “Our Elevate Pledge signatories recognise that employment is the single most important factor in moving people out of poverty and to becoming active participants in society. To advance this further, more action is required to gather and analyse the data across all diversity indicators. Then to proactively amend recruitment and retention practices including setting targets, reviewing job descriptions and challenging stereotypes to ensure the workforce becomes as diverse as possible.” 

Historically employers have shied away from capturing diversity data, given that much of it is protected characteristic data and as such there is no legal right to demand the information. Over the last three years there has been a growing confidence in employers in rolling out voluntary disclosure campaigns and as such the quality of the data is growing year on year. Also, obligations to report Gender Pay Gap and CSRD are placing a greater onus on business to be more transparent and gather holistic data on their employees.  

For the first time, this report also included an indicator of socio-economic status. While difficult to record, its value for improving social cohesion is not disputed as people with a lower socio-economic status usually have less access to financial, educational, social and health resources than those with a higher socio-economic status. Business committed to creating inclusive communities must continue their collaboration with DEIS schools and hire from local communities to create a level playing field.    

Tomas Sercovich, BITCI CEO said “The Elevate Pledge was created for companies to take tangible steps to reduce the rates of unemployment affecting certain groups e.g. people with disabilities, lone parents, migrant communities etc. It is a vital part to their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) strategies. The momentum gathered over the past three years cannot wane especially against the current backdrop of increased social divisions and rising resentments as evidenced in the recent Dublin riots and elsewhere, businesses must be leaders in this space. There is power in the collective and our Pledge signatories are united in striving for improvements knowing that creating an inclusive workforce is good for the individual, staff, business growth and community.” 

Thanks to all members of the BITCI Subgroup on Social Inclusion for their continued oversight and support which is co-chaired by Harry Goddard, CEO Deloitte and Sinead Patton, Chief Financial and Commercial Officer – Ireland and Nordics, Finance Director – Industrial, Water & Energy UK, Veolia.

Read the Elevate Pledge Annual Report 2024 here.