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Boards lack needed data, tools to advance workplace equity

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Although most boards of directors support workplace equity and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, they often lack clear targets, metrics, meaningful accountability, reporting structures or integration with business outcomes, according to a July 20 report from Syndio and Tapestry Networks.

About 90% of companies set workplace equity goals, yet only 25% of leaders believe they have the budget and headcount to achieve those goals.

“Companies today are more conscious than ever of the importance of focusing on business moves that have direct impact on reputation, growth and the bottom line,” Maria Colacurcio, CEO of Syndio, said in a statement

“Workplace equity is a strategic advantage that organizations cannot afford to overlook,” she said. “In Syndio’s experience, boards are often our strongest allies when we harness the promise of workplace equity with advanced analytics. It’s proof they can be a force driving adoption of workplace equity and the business benefits it accrues.”

In interviews with 26 board directions and executives from more than 40 major public companies, leaders highlighted the need for workplace equity to be aligned with broader organizational objectives. More mature organizations made clear connections between DEI investments and business outcomes.

Similarly, setting aspirational but realistic goals remains a challenge for many companies, the report found. Once targets are defined, organizations often lack clear mechanisms to hold leaders accountable, and boards could benefit from a set of tools for effective oversight, as well as common reporting standards.

Board directors also cited employee retention, reputation and growth as key elements to resilience and business performance, according to the report. Workplace equity could play a major role in talent acquisition and retention in the coming year, particularly as human capital strategy becomes “a growing point of focus” for boards.

Other challenging issues, such as crisis management, board diversity and succession planning, have brought increased scrutiny to boards this year. Objective data and benchmarking against similar organizations can help in these areas.

Storytelling can help as well. HR leaders can use people data to help boards explore accountability, oversight and ties to business outcomes. HR teams can also create visibility through data visualization, videos and social media to highlight programs and benefits.

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