Coloured wooden figurines on a dark desk.
Image: © designer491/

Which countries and sectors are leading on diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

17 Sep 2019

New research from Kantar’s inclusion index shows that the tech industry is performing the worst when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

Future of Work Week is discussing all things ‘future of work’ this week, exploring aspects such as remote working, new technologies, contemporary workspaces and more.

But it’s vital that we remember the other critical elements of a workplace that aren’t necessarily going to be revolutionised by flashy new tech. As people remain at the heart of most companies, we also need to consider things such as diversity and inclusion going forward.

Focusing on these becomes undeniably important given the fact that 80pc of employees around the world have observed or experienced discrimination, but only one in three feel empowered to escalate the matter to their HR department.

That’s according to new research from Kantar’s inclusion index, which has shown that the tech industry is the least inclusive and least diverse industry, while the health and pharma sector ranks the highest.

The study, based on responses of 18,000 people in 14 countries, was published today (17 September), ranking 10 industries globally.

The health and pharma sector was found to be leading the way as the most progressive industry, with gender representation at senior level being split equally, 59pc of staff saying that their companies are actively trying to be more inclusive and diverse, and just under two-thirds claiming that they are supporting employees regardless of who they are.

However, even in the highest-ranking industry, bullying is still an issue, with a quarter of staff reporting having witnessed negative discrimination towards others in their company, and two-thirds not feeling comfortable calling out negative behaviour to senior leaders or HR.

With respect to different regions, the US and Canada came top of the inclusion index, based on their recognised efforts to encourage equality based on gender and ethnicity. But, with no country or industry scoring more than 66pc on the index, there’s clearly lots more ground to cover before we reach fully diverse workplaces that provide all staff with equal opportunities.

Bullying and harassment

Almost one in five employees said that they have been bullied, undermined or harassed in the workplace in past year. This becomes significantly higher for people from ethnic minorities and people who identify as non-binary.

Brazil, Mexico and Singapore were the countries identified with the highest level of workplace bullying, while Italy, the Netherlands and Spain were identified as the countries with the lowest level.

For women, more than a quarter said they have been made to feel like they don’t belong in their workplace, with one in five reporting being paid less than colleagues at similar levels.

‘Diversity is the fact while inclusion is the act’

Only 2pc of board director roles are held by those who are LGBTQ, according to the index, with one quarter of LGBTQ workers saying that they have been bullied in the past year and more than a third saying they have faced career obstacles due to their sexual orientation. More than half of LGBTQ people surveyed reported suffering from consistent high stress and anxiety at work.

Overall, nearly half of all employees surveyed believe ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you know’ drives career progression.

‘Significant’ work to be done

At 28pc, more than a quarter of workers said they consistently feel anxious at work specifically because of their ethnicity, and almost one in five of all workers believe that colleagues of an ethnic minority have had career progression damaged in their current company because of their ethnicity.

Discussing the research findings, Mandy Rico, global director of Kantar’s inclusion index, said: “If you are serious about inclusion and diversity in your business, you need to get serious about measuring it. Diversity is the fact while inclusion is the act, and until now inclusion has been much harder to measure.

“Our findings illustrate that a significant amount of work remains to be done to make workplaces more inclusive, diverse and equal, especially around the subject of bullying, which persists at high levels around the world.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading