BITCI Inclusive Workplace Report

27th April 2023

The Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) 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.

Today the second Elevate Pledge Annual Report by Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) was released. 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 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 reportHowever, 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 Veolia, this work continues through our new strategy five by 2025.”

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 have started to track data on this diversity indicator.  Separately, 41 employers have stated 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.

Pictured: Debbie Byrne Managing Director An Post Retail, Tomás Sercovich, CEO BITC, Harry Goddard CEO Deloitte Ireland LLP, Klair Neenan, Managing Director SSE Airtricity, Sinead Patton, Chief Financial & Commercial Officer Veolia Ireland, Eamonn Crowley CEO Permanent TSB, pictured at the launch of the second Elevate Pledge Annual Report by Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI). Image: Jason Clarke