A global study by Workday, a provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, has found that there is a prevalent lack of a strategic approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region.
For markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, the study also revealed that there are clear opportunities for organisations to measure the business impact of DEI and leverage data to track their DEI progress more effectively.
Conducted in partnership with Sapio Research in late 2022, the study, “Global Blueprint for Belonging and Diversity” surveyed over 3,100 HR professionals and C-level business leaders with responsibilities for diversity initiatives within their organisation, to understand their motivations, activities, and progress in relation to belonging and diversity.
The study found that the lack of a strategic approach in DEI was most prevalent in APJ, with more than half (52%) of respondents indicating that their organisations did not have an approach or were in the initial phases of developing one.
This makes it difficult for organisations to move from goal setting to goal-getting. The figure is significantly higher when compared to Europe (39%) and North America (34%).
Challenges in Singapore and Hong Kong
One of the key reasons for the lack of a strategic approach was revealed to be insufficient data and reporting on DEI efforts. For both Singapore and Hong Kong, only 26% of respondents indicated their organisations measure the business impact and perceived value of DEI initiatives.
Close to six in 10 (58%) of respondents in Singapore also commented that tracking progress was challenging and required new systems and software, to fully support a DEI strategy and implementation. Over in Hong Kong, close to seven in 10 (66%) of respondents said the same.
In driving DEI, the main business cases in Hong Kong were the need to attract and develop talent (52%) and improve staff wellbeing (50%). In Singapore, it was the recognition of the need to develop and promote people from diverse backgrounds (46%), as well as an acknowledgment for more diverse and engaged teams that would be key to increasing business innovation (46%).
In order to move to the next stage in relation to DEI, 44% of respondents in Singapore said their organisation needs a clear strategy – with DEI metrics included as a core part of corporate KPIs, while 42% in Hong Kong said their organisation needs engagement and buy-in from employees.
Other key highlights:
Investments Remain Strong
90% of respondents in Singapore and 80% in Hong Kong respectively have a budget for DEI initiatives.
In Singapore, 34% of respondents plan to increase DEI investment in the next financial year while 58% plan to maintain it. In Hong Kong, 26% of respondents plan to increase DEI investment in the next financial year while 46% plan to maintain it.
More Needs to be Done to Celebrate Diversity
Only 28% of respondents in Singapore and 30% in Hong Kong note that diversity is recognised, valued, and celebrated. 18% of respondents in both Hong Kong and Singapore note that diversity is trivialised, and stronger emphasis is placed on recognising similarities than differences.
“Our research indicates that over the coming year, we can expect more organisations to invest in DEI initiatives, and it is important for them to be equipped with the data they need to act. At present, many organisations either do not have data or are not effectively using available data to drive their strategies and business impact,” said Pannie Sia, general manager, ASEAN, Workday.
“A data-driven DEI vision and strategy, supported by the right technologies, led by dedicated and engaged leaders across the organisation will enhance DEI awareness and education, drive adoption and accountability, as well as create meaningful and long-lasting positive change.”