As more organizations focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), disclosures of gender-related data are surging.
More than 600 organizations across 50 countries revealed their gender-related workforce data in Bloomberg's 2023 Gender-Equality Index (GEI) report, representing an 11 percent increase in disclosures over the previous year.
"The 11 percent increase in disclosed gender-related data … is a massive area of improvement year-over-year," said Sophia Sung, team leader of the GEI at Bloomberg. "[The increase in disclosures] demonstrates companies' belief in the value of the GEI and a global overarching drive toward equality."
Bloomberg's gender reporting framework, an element of the GEI report, encourages the disclosure and measurement of company-specific social data, such as asking for the percentage of a company's board members who are women.
Companies that voluntarily disclose gender metrics have their data verified and can then share it with investors. The information provided is more gender-focused than the EEO-1 data collection required by the federal government.
Participating companies were asked about and scored on data relating to:
- Leadership and talent pipeline.
- Equal pay and gender pay parity.
- Inclusive culture.
- Anti-sexual harassment policies.
- External brand.
An assessment of these scores helps create the GEI, composed of 484 companies that exhibited excellence in gender equality. Among GEI-member organizations:
- 86 percent have a recruiting strategy to increase female hires.
- 70 percent conducted an equal pay audit.
- 63 percent require a gender-diverse slate of candidates for management positions.
- 60 percent publicly disclosed statistics on gender-based differences in compensation.
- 44 percent of women were promoted, on average, per company.
- 32 percent of board members are women.
Parental support was a common thread among GEI companies:
- On average, GEI companies provide their employees with 11 weeks of paid parental leave for primary caregivers and four weeks of paid parental leave for secondary caregivers.
- 86 percent of employees who return after parental leave remain with the company one year later.
- 80 percent offer onsite lactation rooms.
- 62 percent provide child care subsidies or other financial support for parents.
Sung said parental support continues to play a crucial role in the retention and growth of talent.
"Parental support, including flexible approaches to parental leave, indicates support for both mothers and fathers, allowing new parents to share child care duties while continuing on their professional paths," she said.
Positive Findings for Companies with Female CEOs
About 64 percent of GEI organizations have implemented DE&I goals for managers in performance reviews, the report found. And about 86 percent of GEI organizations offer unconscious bias training, with 74 percent of those tracking manager completion.
"These are noteworthy as they indicate a growing culture of inclusion within companies, which is important for the retention of women throughout their careers," Sung said.
The report showed little change in corporate representation among women. The percentage of women in entry-level and middle management positions also remained unchanged from the previous year.
However, the report also indicated positive trends:
- Companies are hiring more women than they are losing.
- Organizations led by women have higher representation of women at all levels.
- The gender pay gap is lower with a female CEO.
"While much of GEI data looks at the pipeline, a lower attrition rate also shows potential for growth for women within organizations," Sung said.
A Lack of Transparency Can Hurt DE&I Goals
An increase in transparency in reporting gender-equity practices supports inclusion, according to Jonita Wilson, the chief diversity officer at Discover Financial Services in Chicago.
She said that transparency with DE&I data helps organizations track progress, gives insights into where improvements must be made and shows the workforce its commitment to a fair workplace.
"[Transparency] gives permission to be held accountable through that action," she said. "Inclusion requires active and intentional efforts to engage the full participation and sense of belonging for every employee."
Wilson said her company leverages its DE&I transparency report to communicate their progress with employees so they can make positive change for Discover's culture, which helps the organization better serve its customers and communities.
Without transparency, companies cannot drive systemic changes needed for equity, she added. Equity measurement systems help make an impact on driving systemic change. Avoiding change at a systemic level enables companies to fail in inclusivity.
"Avoiding transparency can lead to distrust and opportunities lost, creating an environment where employees create their own narrative based on assumptions," she said. "Avoiding transparency can create barriers for talent to thrive."