Of 20 capability areas assessed, DEI scored the poorest among the practitioners.
Just 3% of respondents claimed deep expertise in the area, and 80% of HR professionals labelled themselves as ‘beginners.’
The majority (76%) of companies showed no diversity or inclusion goals of any nature and 75% of companies do not include it in their leadership development.
Training on the subject was found to be among the least impactful of practices when it comes to meaningful business and workforce outcomes.
Speaking to HR magazine, Bersin said that though businesses may strive for better D&I, it is complicated to put it into practice.
He said: “There is huge momentum toward having more women on boards, greater gender pay equity, and ever-more diligence in equal opportunity compliance, however, this is a highly complicated area and how to effect meaningful change here is a challenging issue.
“This is likely why the research found HR professionals don’t feel proficient in the area, or ready to take the decisions necessary.”
Businesses have come a long way with EDI, but responsibility is still an issue, Bersin said.
He added: “As our research discovered, very few businesses hold themselves properly accountable for EDI in their regular business practices.
“Indeed 40% see diversity as primarily a compliance issue, but many companies rely on tactics of unconscious bias training or view it as a recruiting problem, rather than having a comprehensive business strategy which permeates every decision the company makes.”
Just 12% of companies in the report said they compensate or track senior leaders for achievement of specific inclusion or diversity goals.
Bersin added: “Making your equity goals as important as your financial, legal, and other business outcomes is key, while business strategy needs to reflect the fact that the most inclusive companies are really good listeners.
“Notably of the 80 plus practices we analysed, the most important identified by internal business leaders was to listen, hear, and act on employees’ concerns.”
The research, Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion, was conducted in partnership with employee survey services Perceptyx and is based on survey responses from 804 HR professionals across industries, geographies, and company sizes.