Taking the pulse of the Greek business landscape, KPMG in Greece conducted a survey on DE&I in companies operating in the country, uncovering interesting insights about the present and future of corporate culture in Greece.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are increasingly recognized as important principles of good management, core values that are central to corporate excellence and optimal organizational performance. Around the world, matters relating to respecting diversity and promoting inclusion in the workplace are increasingly prioritized, both for their appeal and importance especially to younger demographics of professionals and for their role in fostering creativity, driving productivity and boosting bottom lines. Diversity and inclusion are also core values of KPMG in Greece, woven into every aspect of the company’s operation. In this context, and driven by its commitment to always be abreast with market trends and developments, KPMG in Greece set out to take the market’s pulse on all things DE&I, conducting a survey on inclusion in the workplace and how companies address it and identifying interesting trends in how—and how not—Greek businesses are embracing DE&I.
In today’s volatile international environment, priorities and business concerns are shifting, often rapidly, in response to emerging challenges. In this context, issues such as the need to identify and retain talent, pursue technological modernization, achieve ESG goals, and successfully adapt human resources management to the post-Covid era have taken priority in day-to-day operations and strategic planning alike, overshadowing the indisputable need to push forward with improvements to workplace diversity and inclusion.
KPMG’s survey shows this clearly, indicating that whilst working to address these new priorities, companies had failed to accommodate the necessary changes to enhance DE&I and give it the space and attention it deserves—and this while 91% of respondents believe DE&I policies can significantly help a company’s image as an employer in the mid- to long-term.
Indeed, the development and implementation of policies to tackle workplace discrimination is still far from being seen as a real need, despite the fact that a mere 12% of respondents said that they had never heard of or personally experienced instances of discrimination in the workplace, compared to 36% who said they had often or very often heard of or experienced incidents of discrimination—half of them in their own company.
The survey showed that while human resources departments are charged with promoting DE&I, providing information and raising awareness company-wide, in practice increased awareness and being better informed was primarily the result of personal interest and individual research, and while larger companies have started offering relevant workshops, it is evident that a much more structured and intensive approach to diversity and inclusion training is required, which must be delivered by specialized counsellors and educators.
Interestingly, the survey showed that the areas prioritized by companies through their policies and actions do not in fact correspond with the areas in the direst need of attention. Indicatively, the emphasis on addressing the significant issue of discrimination based on age, disability, race and sexuality; for example, 56% of Greek companies, especially the larger ones, are male dominated.
Another important finding is that age groups tend to work together, older employees with other older employees and younger employees with other younger employees, pointing to a clear need to establish mixed, age-diverse teams. The majority (85%) of respondents stated that when teams with diverse characteristics, experiences and academic qualifications work together they can deliver results of much higher quality, while also using the collaboration as an opportunity to train in different practices.
Even though according to respondents DE&I issues are of considerably more significance than is assigned to them in practice by companies, there nonetheless seems to be some progress in terms of attitudes and awareness among employees and, to a lesser extent, management. Alas, these have not yet been formally implemented as policies to address key issues such as:
- establishing a workplace environment open to DE&I ideas,
- providing equal employment opportunities and opportunities for recognition to all,
- investing the necessary time and resources to establish diverse teams, and
- introducing hiring quotas to ensure the representation of different and diverse groups.
Indeed, only one in five companies actually have some kind of formal DE&I policy in place, with a further 27% implementing such policies informally and, shockingly, just one in nine having established a DE&I Officer position within their organization.
Perhaps one of the most crucial findings of the survey is that in companies that implement DE&I policies, whether formally or informally, there was a significantly higher percentage of respondents who said they would recommend the company to a friend or acquaintance for its working environment (recommendation), feel inspired by the company to do their best (performance), and want to continue working for the company in the future (loyalty). This demonstrates that there is real monetary value, at the EVP level, in adopting DE&I thinking and implementing DE&I policies, as these contribute to boosting productivity as well as attracting and retaining talent, particularly in the younger demographics.
While there is still a long way to go for Greek companies to truly embrace DE&I, it is clear that in order to achieve optimal results, they will have to move forward with a combination of coherent policies and actions, which must be founded on management’s determination to remain committed to its DE&I strategy and goals regardless of shifting circumstances or emerging challenges. Crucially, companies must not forget that the younger and future generations of professionals are both demanding and critical in matters of inclusion.
The survey was conducted during November 11-22, 2022, with the two-fold aim of determining how professionals experience DE&I in the workplace and how they evaluate DE&I awareness and initiatives by Greek companies.
The survey sample comprised 128 respondents from among KPMG Greece’s contacts and clients, of whom 70% identified as female, 27% as male, and 3% as other. The average age was 44 years. Respondents had an average of 20 years of professional experience and work in mid and senior positions in departments including human resources, marketing, operations, and sales. The companies they work for—Greek and foreign, including multinationals—are active across a wide range of industries, particularly in services, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, energy, and education; the average company size was large by Greek standards (588 employees), while small companies accounted for approximately one fourth of the sample.