Middle East among the top in boardroom cultural diversity: Refinitiv

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Workplace diversity
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Diversity and inclusion in the workforce is an important factor that is the core of environmental, social and governance (ESG) concepts for companies.

Global data provider Refinitiv, in its study entitled ‘Key Factors Driving Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces’, says that the cultural diversity of board members worldwide has risen from five years ago, but is stuck at around 30 percent.

“Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) leads the way with the most culturally diverse boards, [but] at the other end of the spectrum, we see that Asia–Pacific company boards are becoming less culturally diverse,” the report noted.

The study also found a 43% increase in the number of women on the board of companies in the last 5 years and a 54% increase in companies that offer flexible working policies officially. The report says that it has also witnessed a 25% increase in companies with a career development policy.

The purpose of the Refinitiv report is to raise awareness regarding the topic of diversity and inclusion (D&I), to review data to evaluate progress achieved and to investigate its direct effect on the financial performance of an organization.

“In today’s volatile business reality, diversity and inclusion is more important than ever. Yet measurable progress in increasing workplace diversity and inclusion remains stagnant. The reasons why are as varied as the potential solutions. However, most can agree that diversity is good for business,” said the report.

On evaluating industry patterns, the report found that the energy sector is at the forefront of cultural diversity and has seen the biggest change in five years. Although the financial services sector has seen a substantial change from five years ago, in terms of culturally diverse boards, the sector remains below average.

Healthcare firms are overrepresented in terms of diverse boards, according to Refinitiv, while basic materials and utilities are underrepresented.

Canada is leading the way in terms of culturally diverse boards in the world, with 18 percent of top corporations headquartered in the region.