Survey finds areas of Innovation in D&I among Europe’s Top200 – and companies’ criteria for innovativeness

Leading companies identify most of their innovative D&I practices in the area of ‘Development & engagement’, followed by the fields ‘Women in management positions’ and ‘Work life balance’. This is one result of the latest International study initiated by European Diversity Research & Consulting. Companies consider D&I programmes innovative if they acknowledge specific needs of certain groups or if they perceive them to be unique.

A total of 60 innovative practices were mentioned by the 27 participating companies from 14 industries. A semantic analysis resulted in five clusters, the largest being ‘Development & engagement’, encompassing educational and involving activities. Story telling was one that combined development and engagement. The two second largest clusters were ‘Women in management positions’ and ‘Work life balance’, including sponsoring programmes or job sharing while parental leave. The smaller categories were ‘special needs / disability’ and ‘new trends’.

Additional information related to the participating companies in terms of their level of experience, reasoning for running D&I programmes, challenges faced, diversity charters and general awareness about other companies’ D&I activities were also analysed. The corporations mentioned mainly general or generic reasons for their D&I activities (improved performance, more success) and said that their challenges were mainly to create a shared understanding for D&I and enlist buy-in from senior management. 78% of the responding companies had signed at least one of the diversity charters in Europe.

EMEA Diversity expert, Michael Stuber, who had initiated the study, commented on the findings: “Overall, companies did not distinguish a lot between real innovation that combines previously unrelated approaches and best practices emerging from an improvement of existing formats”, pointing towards a more operational approach. Indeed, throughout the data collection, a lot of operational pressure was observed explaining a practical rather than a strategic focus as well as a preference for copying what works over developing tailored solutions.

Already for the 15th time, the Cologne-based researchers created a new study design to examine a current question in D&I. Due to the widespread commonalities of corporate D&I programmes, the International experts identified the need to analyse company-specific innovation in Diversity & Inclusion management. They approached all Blue Chip corporations listed in the STOXX® Europe 200 index and let them pick their most innovative D&I practice including the reasons why they considered the activity to be innovative. The study design deliberately avoided to use a pre-defined framework for innovation.