A global study by Workday has found that there is a prevalent lack of a strategic approach to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) within the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region.
The study — conducted in partnership with Sapio Research in late 2022 — surveyed more than 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, Workday noted.
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, the firm said.
- 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%).
- One of the key reasons for the lack of a strategic approach was revealed to be due to 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.
- 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 acknowledgement 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The research indicates that more organisations might invest in DEI initiatives over the coming year and it's important for them to be equipped with the data they need to act, said Pannie Sia, General Manager, ASEAN, Workday.
At present, many organisations either do not have data, or are not effectively using available data to drive their strategies and business impact, she added.
“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,” she advised.