In the survey commissioned by technology company Intel, nearly two thirds (63%) of decision-makers said that the pandemic has had a positive impact on D&I.
Nearly a third (30%), however, of leaders who reported a negative impact on D&I, said they had noticed a reduction in the number of employees from underrepresented groups.
More than half (54%) of those leaders said that disabled employees were the worst affected.
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In the UK, employment of disabled workers slipped during the pandemic by 300,000, according to the Office for National Statistics, although it has since recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Similarly, employment of ethnic minority groups in the UK plummeted at 26 times the rate of white workers during the first year of the pandemic.
Christiane Bisanzio, vice president of D&I at Japan Tobacco International, said that technological investment was key to D&I.
She told HR magazine: “Technology is essential to communicate D&I values both internally and externally and it provides a platform for training and support.”
She added that diversity data can be put to excellent use reviewing the outcomes for key talent processes – for example, tracking the gender balance of interviewees for leadership roles.
“Data collection and technology play an important part in implementing D&I efforts.”
Most (57%) business leaders say their company could do more to invest in systems and initiatives that promote D&I.
Likewise, of the UK respondents, while 77% said their organisation has set long-term goals to achieve a diverse and inclusive working environment, over half (51%) said their company was ill-prepared to reach these goals.
Bisanzio added that for any D&I strategy to meet success, whatever its resources, it has to work within the existing culture of a company – there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
“The biggest challenge for any company is ensuring that the D&I team always operates within the context of the corporate culture. It is important to understand how the organisation functions, and its deep rooted values.
Only then can the D&I team design a strategy that actually fits within an organisation and be successful.”