As companies strive to implement effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies, a recent study examining EEO-1 reports offers vital insights into the state of workforce diversity. The report, titled “Behind the EEO Curtain,” written by researchers from Columbia Business School and London Business School, speaks to the too-common practices of talking big and acting small when it comes to DEI efforts in the workplace.
Understanding the current landscape of workforce diversity.
Based on data from EEO-1 reports of 800 federal contractors, it appears there is a systemic lack of racial diversity, particularly within the managerial ranks. "We provide evidence on the lack of racial diversity among U.S. public firms, particularly among first and middle managerial ranks," the report states.
Key findings include:
- Firms with higher proportions of Asian employees were more likely to disclose their diversity data.
- Diversity among managerial ranks plays a significant role in a company's decision to disclose diversity metrics.
Strategic disclosure of diversity metrics.
The study suggests that disclosing diversity metrics is often strategic. Firms that appeared more ethnically diverse, especially in comparison to their industry peers, were more likely to disclose diversity information. However, the same did not hold true for gender diversity.
Implications for DEI efforts and disclosure policies.
The findings reveal that companies underperforming in diversity are more likely to withhold their diversity data from stakeholders. This lack of transparency can impede the effectiveness of DEI initiatives, making it harder for firms to benchmark their performance against others.
DEI transparency is vital for DEI success.
Increasing transparency in diversity data reporting is essential to advance DEI efforts. HR leaders are encouraged to focus on improving diversity within their organizations and being open about their progress. Such transparency fosters trust among stakeholders and contributes to the broader effort of benchmarking and improving diversity across industries.
Start conversations. Encourage transformation.
Electives creates a safe space for difficult DEI conversations. Our classes help teams understand unique experiences, perspectives and challenges faced by individuals from different backgrounds.