Thursday, 27th April 2023 saw the launch of the second Elevate Pledge Annual Report by Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI). The Elevate Pledge was launched in 2021 to challenge and support businesses to build more inclusive workplaces.
To date, 60 Irish companies have signed up to Elevate, demonstrating their commitment to diversifying their workforce.
The vision of the Pledge is to build a workforce reflective of the diversity in society. The Pledge, which must be signed by the CEO, asks signatories to commit to measuring and disclosing the diversity profile of their workforce and to take action to embed inclusion.
The BITCI report presents key findings on data collected from 60 companies spanning 11 sectors and with a collective workforce of over 150,000 people. Diversity profiling is not a trivial task and there are challenges to this, chief among them a reliance on voluntary disclosure of employees. The Report shows that when employers create data driven actions, they see real progress on the diversity profile of their workforce.
There is evidence of robust performance on gender, with female representation at senior and executive levels in Elevate signatory companies higher at 40% which is higher than the national average of 29.7%. This is an impressive statistic, particularly as the overall female representation in the Elevate workforce is at 41%, compared to a national average of 47%. 15% of Elevate signatories have a female CEO against a national average of 13%.
There is an increase in the number of businesses measuring the diversity of their workforce. The number of Elevate signatories providing data on Disability and Ethnicity doubled compared to last year’s report. However, Disclosure rates for these indicators are still quite low at 11% and 10% respectively. The data indicates that minority groups continue to be under-represented in the workforce. Less than 1% of employees disclosed a disability, when a rate of 7% would be expected, and only 1.7% disclosed an ethnicity other than white, compared to an expectation of 15%.
Tomás Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland commented on the report results: “We continue to see a major gap between skills and people shortages in business and jobseekers that are left behind in our society. We simply cannot afford to lose talent. Business must embrace inclusion strategically, not as the right thing to do, but as a fundamental agenda of change. Inclusion is an imperative for all in society and business has the tools and the mindset to make this happen.”
These low levels of representation have motivated Elevate signatories to design interventions to address gaps.
Sinead Patton, co-chair of the BITCI Leaders Group which developed the pledge and Chief Financial and Commercial Officer at Veolia Ireland, highlighted that: “2022 was a baseline year. This year we have seen commendable increases in data capture and improvements in transparency across almost all indicators, as well as the positive results that are emerging from having an increased focus on DE&I. However, we must go further and continue to normalise disclosure and reporting on diversity data. We as business leaders need to take action, so it’s easier for others to follow. Measurement, while not without its challenges, enables targeted progress helping to make change visible and the workplace more inclusive where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”
For example, the stigma around membership of the Traveller Community remains high, with only three Elevate employees identifying as Traveller. To reflect Irish society, it would be expected that there would be 60 Travellers from the sample disclosed and 600 across the entire Elevate workforce of 150,000 employees. Coupled with the knowledge that unemployment rates within the Traveller community have been at 80% for 30 years – 13 times that of the general population, it is indisputable that more work needs to be done to change this picture.
As businesses mature on their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) agenda, they are linking KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to performance management. One third of signatories have reported linking Executive performance measurement to DE&I KPIs with more than 15% linking performance measurement to DE&I KPIs for all colleagues.
In relation to socio-economic inclusion, 7 out of 60 signatories reported data, with 41 employers stating they pay the living wage, while 19 reported that they expect contractors to pay living wages.
Harry Goddard, CEO, Deloitte Ireland, and co-chair of the BITCI Leaders’ Group said: “Our customers, employees, and other stakeholders, expect us to have organisations that truly reflect the society in which we operate. While progress is being made to create more inclusive workplaces, there is, and always will be, more to be done. Setting clear and measurable targets and holding ourselves accountable is imperative to improving inclusion and making a lasting impact. Business that fail to do so are being left behind.”
In an ongoing effort to combat this inequality, BITCI operates a series of employment programmes aimed at increasing workforce representation of refugees and asylum seekers, people with health issues and disabilities, women distanced from the workplace and members of the Traveller Community. These initiatives support jobseekers to gain and sustain meaningful employment over the long term. Participants receive job coaching tailored to their individual needs in order to build and implement an achievable training and job seeking plan.
Almost 60% of signatories have partnerships with DEIS schools and local communities, participating in educational programmes including those led by BITCI. Early interventions at primary and post-primary level are key to breaking cycles of disadvantage. BITCI believes that these highly impactful interventions will also have a knock-on effect in addressing inclusion in the workplace for today’s students.
For more information on how you can become a member and get involved: www.bitc.ie
List of signatory companies
A&L Goodbody; Accenture; Actavo; AIB Group; Aldi; Allianz plc; An Post; Aviva Life and Pensions; Aviva General Insurance; Bank of Ireland Group; Bidvest Noonan; Breedon Ireland; Britvic Ireland; BT Ireland; Bus Éireann; Cairn Homes; Calor; Central Bank of Ireland; Coillte; Compass Group Ireland; Cook Medical Ireland Ltd.; Cork Chamber; Deloitte Ireland LLP; DHL Supply Chain; Diageo Ireland; Dublin Bus; eir; Eason; EirGrid plc; Energia Group; Enterprise Rent-a-Car; ESB; ESW; Fujitsu Ireland; Gas Networks Ireland; Glenveagh Properties PLC; Grant Thornton; HEINEKEN Ireland; HSBC Ireland; Iarnród Éireann; IBM Ireland Ltd.; Janssen Sciences Ireland; Janssen Pharmaceutical Sciences; KPMG Ireland; Lidl Ireland; Marks & Spencer (Ireland) Ltd; Mercury Engineering; ABM Ireland; Musgrave; Ornua; Permanent TSB; PwC; Roadstone; RSA Group; Servier (Ireland) Industries Ltd.; Sky Ireland; Sodexo Ireland; SSE; Sumitomo Mitsui Trust (Ireland) Limited; Sysco Ireland; Tesco Ireland; Uisce Éireann; Veolia; William Fry
About Business in the Community Ireland
Business in the Community Ireland is a movement for change in business. We believe in a sustainable, low carbon economy and an inclusive society where everyone thrives. We work with over 120 of Ireland’s largest companies on sustainability, corporate responsibility, ESG and responsible business. We advise and support companies and engage in collective action to drive change.
Elevate is Business in the Community Ireland’s Pledge to support businesses to build more inclusive workplaces. The Pledge was launched in May 2021 and its ultimate ambition is for a workforce that is representative of all members of Irish society.
At BITCI we believe that addressing social inequality is an important driver for sustainable economic growth and recovery. We are aware of a rising prioritisation and increased expectation on diversity equity and inclusion. Our workplaces have become more diverse, incorporating a multiplicity of backgrounds, experiences, and identities. This is complemented by an increased focus from investors as well as the next generation of talent to take a stand on inclusion.
Diversity alone is not enough. Workplace inclusion is about creating a culture where everyone feels welcome, has access to opportunities and is supported to thrive. The purpose of this Pledge is to practically demonstrate commitment by business to building an inclusive workforce as well as to encourage wider, complementary initiatives and actions, to assist companies achieve diversity, equity & inclusion targets whilst tackling inequalities in society.
Signatories to Elevate commit to two principal activities:
Signing up to the Pledge not only shows a strong commitment and action on diversity, equity, and inclusion but it also provides a unique platform for learning and collaborating with peers.
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