Bulletin: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in APAC
Each week, Weber Shandwick’s APAC Intelligence Bulletin shares the key developments shaping business sectors throughout the Asia Pacific region. Today, exploring the increasing importance of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) in APAC.
- Post-pandemic business and employee needs driving rise of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives
- Today’s professionals prioritising wellness in workplaces
- Research indicates no quick-fix for DEI; longterm solutions required
- Global investment firm, research links diversity to improved revenue, ROI
Already a growing concern for companies and businesses pre-2020 on account of the pro-diversity values of demographics like Gen Z and Millennials, ideas of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) have taken on even greater value and urgency in 2021.
Post-2020, professionals are actively prioritising workplaces invested in the wellbeing of their staff – and inclusive, supportive workplace cultures for marginalised populations are considered a key indicator of such investments. Combined with the post-pandemic pressure for companies to leverage or maximise new and existing revenue drivers and research emphasising the financial rewards associated with diverse talent bases, many brands have been newly incentivised to invest more heavily in DEI in 2021.
Throughout the Asia Pacific region, ideas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are being embraced with a new vigour – both to support talent needs and to help assure business success in uncertain times.
The way of wellness
With the World Health Organisation declaring that 93% of mental health services worldwide have been severely disrupted by the pandemic, employees and employers are both prioritising wellness in workplace cultures to an unprecedented degree.
In Australia, wellbeing programmes are being highlighted as a potential incentive to help support workers reluctant to return to the workplace. A 2020 survey found 85.1% of Australians professionals now considered ‘wellbeing’ as a primary priority for selecting a potential employer.
A six-month pilot program of targeted wellness initiatives at three major Tokyo workplaces, including that of a leading global tech brand, has reportedly resulted in increased employee productivity and happiness. A ten-year study on such initiatives in Singapore found they saved businesses an approximate minimum of US$30 per staff-member per month.
However, stigma remains a major issue. Research from Singapore has found over 50% of workers believed that seeking help for mental health issues could potentially jeopardise their employment. In the same survey, 66% of employers listed ‘mental health stigma’ as a key issue of concern. To combat the stigma, one Australian asset management firm has introduced regular lunch-and-learn programmes with mental health professionals for employees, supporting the initiative with additional investment in ongoing access to regular mental healthcare and resources.
The importance of inclusion
With discrimination and bias significantly contributing to poor mental health for workers, the increased importance of workplace wellbeing has also necessitated a proactive approach by employers towards embracing and supporting diverse talent bases. With recent research outlining that short and sporadic diversity workshops have had only marginal impact over business cultures over the past forty years, businesses are seeking new ways to showcase their commitment to diversity and expand their talent bases.
One Japan-led pharmaceutical multinational, for example, recently unveiled their Diversity & Inclusion 2021 action plan – with specific targets and strategies in place to increase gender and age diversity by year’s end. Similarly, a Japan-led technology multinational has pledged to raise their standards and quotas around employing disabled workers and creating more accessible workspaces. According to a recent survey of Australian recruiters and HR professionals, over half of Australian businesses are currently recruiting partnering with organisations devoted to boosting the employment numbers of marginalised populations.
The rewards of DEI
Throughout, research continues to underscore the positive impacts on effective diversity programmes. In Australia, a recent study found that talent retention increased by 90% in the wake of effective DEI policies. The same businesses also saw increased revenue and greater profit margins.
A leading global investment firm, meanwhile, has attributed its successful managing of assets and funds to its commitment to vetting for diversity in terms of investment decisions – citing global research that found firms with diverse leadership and talent bases were more likely to deliver greater returns for investors than those without.
Media analysis of stories covering Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, Macau SAR, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam from 6 April to 6 May 2021.
This briefing was prepared by Weber Shandwick’s Insight & Intelligence team in Singapore.
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