Where are the numbers, Denmark?
In today’s highly competitive and globalized markets, increasingly distinct and demanding customer segments continue to emerge. But homogeneous companies staffed exclusively with similar-looking and similar-minded employees lack the broad range of insight and experience needed to meet these challenges—leaving those organizations to struggle and, possibly, to fail. Far better equipped for this dynamic, new environment are companies that tap into the full spectrum of capabilities offered by a diverse workforce.
Simply put, diversity is good for business (1). And that’s old news.
Numerous studies from highly recognized research institutions around the world have made the business case for diversity very clear; again and again, for many years.
So how are we doing? How does the diversity workforce data look in Denmark’s organizations in 2016?
To answer this question, I took a closer look at the publicly available people information from 15 of the country's largest organizations (2); provided on their website. I chose some of the biggest companies, because my own experience suggested that the size of the organization was correlated to the efforts taken and/or communicated publicly.
But the result of my research left me surprised:
Only 1 out of 15 organizations explicitly publishes numerical data on workforce diversity (besides on the C-level) on their website. At least, this is all I could find. And in this one case only one aspect of diversity is highlighted: gender. While almost all organizations (except DSV) acknowledge diversity as a key focus area, in most cases I just can't seem to find any plain numbers, that give an indication on where the internal diversity efforts are going. Or in the first place: what the workforce looks like. Right here. Right now.
Many danish organizations are tired of being compared to Silicon Valley companies; because very few of feel like they can compare in any way to Google and Facebook & co. And while I largely understand that (and do agree), I believe these companies are a huge step ahead of us with regards to diversity efforts; simply by being transparent about the matter. Within seconds, you can find visually edited diversity data (like the following from Google) of almost any Silicon Valley organization online. Try to search danish companies for the same result, and it will leave you disappointed.
But if diversity is a key focus area for Danish organizations, why is there so few who actually measure their efforts? And if they do, why are their numbers so hard to find?
Is it (as Tracy Chou, Software Engineer at Pinterest puts it) because it’s hard for companies to admit that they’re working through any issues when they want to paint the rosy picture for recruiting? The competition for talent is fierce, and companies are inevitably pitted against each other fighting for good candidates (5).
I recognize that conflict of interest. At the same time, as someone who’s working in a tech-focused environment, where data (almost always) beats opinion, I can’t imagine trying to solve a problem where the real metrics, the ones we’re setting our goals against, are concealed (6).
While it’s ok to say in a generic way that “the company has a long way to go”, firms often indicate that they’re doing better than average, at least. But just pointing to the happy numbers doesn’t do anything except make people feel good while the real issues fester, unaddressed (7).
The goal is to remove discrimination, provide opportunity for all employees and support growth in business. We need to work together to make that happen.
And it starts with having honest dialogues about how we’re actually doing (8).
So where are the numbers, Denmark?
Here are some of ours:
Got some more numbers for me?
I have put together an anonymous survey - please contribute data if you can! Any data is great - whether it’s from your own company or collected from publicly available data sources, like about/team pages. Thanks for your help.