Despite increasing social, political and even investor pressure, just 19% of the world’s largest companies have disclosed data about the makeup of their workforce, according to a survey by the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, an international investor coalition.

Partly funded by the British government, the WDI pushes to improve the data available on a variety of workplace issues. Besides the government, it’s supported by more than 50 investment firms.

For 2020’s survey, only 141 out of 750 companies shared information, Reuters reported. That represented a 20% increase in reporting in 2019. Still, the WDI noted, “[Improvements] in transparency do not necessarily reflect improved treatment of workers.”

While three-quarters of the responding companies shared a gender breakdown of their employees, only 36% reported on their workforces’ ethnicity. That’s despite the fact that nearly all respondents have promised to improve diversity within their organization.

Diversity Data Lags

And while 57% provided data on their gender pay gap, only 4% reported on their pay gaps by ethnicity. (Some companies, Reuters noted, said regulations prevented them from collecting ethnicity data.)

Fewer than half of companies provided data on how many bias incidents were reported, even though 96% provided information on their discrimination and harassment policies, Reuters said.

The lack of data complicates efforts to measure progress, the WDI observed. “For plans and initiatives to work, a company needs to understand the composition of its workforce,” said WDI Research Manager Charlotte Lush. “Without this data, companies are effectively taking a shot in the dark, implementing practices without knowing who is in their workforce, and what it is that they need.”

Among the companies that did not share information were Amazon, Alphabet, JPMorgan Chase and Walmart, Reuters said. According to the WDI’s website, a notable number of the organizations simply didn’t respond to its outreach.

Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.


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