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D&I as a key indicator of resilience

Elena Philipova
Elena Philipova
Global Head ESG Proposition, Refinitiv

While the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing some companies and industries to focus on survival, the crisis also reveals the critical importance and relevance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, including diversity and inclusion (D&I), in making more informed and resilient capital allocation decisions.


  1. The COVID-19 pandemic and extreme market volatility has increased attention on corporate diversity and inclusion practices, disclosure and performance.
  2. Investors are examining D&I practices as they make capital allocation decisions and demand more comprehensive data across the different facets of diversity beyond gender.
  3. Solid tools and metrics are needed to measure D&I performance.

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Despite challenging economic circumstances, financial professionals are actually more frequently and diligently incorporating ESG themes into their investment strategies and capital allocation decisions.

Diversity and inclusion within the workforce are core ESG themes — and directly related to business recovery and resilience. Diversity and inclusion is important to businesses to attract and retain the best talent, incubate innovation and deliver strong financial performance in the ever-changing business environment.

We are entering a decade of volatility in scale and impact never seen before, which elevates the important of diversity and inclusion.

Refinitiv's Key Factors Driving Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces report

Why is D&I becoming more important?

In the current market environment, business D&I practices are being examined even more closely. Investors are analyzing the relationship between diversity, resilience and recovery from the pandemic. Customers, meanwhile, are looking for more sustainable and socially just products, and employees increasingly want to work for a company that is fair and provides job security.

For a deeper dive into D&I analysis, access our report, Key Factors Driving Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces.

Watch: Why is diversity and inclusion important for businesses?

Refinitiv’s ESG database can illuminate D&I trends and insights that can inform investment strategies. The database is the basis for the Refinitiv Diversity and Inclusion Index, which highlights the top 100 most diverse and inclusive companies globally.

Key drivers for outperformance

The latest report, Key Factors Driving Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces, examines trends in diversity and inclusion data.

The analysis covers cultural and gender diversity trends on boards of directors, metrics concerning female managers, and corporate policies on career development, to name a few of the 24 underlying measures use to produce the D&I score of a company.

One key takeaway is that globally, cultural diversity on boards has stalled at around 30 percent while gender diversity continues to increase.

Comparing D&I trends with market benchmarks

In addition, the report provides portfolio analysis for each trend, using the Portfolio Analytics app in Refinitiv Eikon, and compares it with a market benchmark.

For example, a portfolio of companies in the top decile based on board cultural diversity slightly outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index equal weight benchmark, while a portfolio of companies in the bottom decile noticeably underperformed the benchmark.

2019 average performance for board cultural diversity

Finally, the Refinitiv Diversity and Inclusion Index highlights top performing companies in this area, across a range of countries.

The lowest performers were in aerospace and defense, and in media and publishing — but even these groups increased by one point over last year.

It’s also worth noting that the Diversity and Inclusion Index has performed better than two key benchmarks over the last eight years, the MSCI World ESG Leaders GR Index and the S&P Global 1200 ESG TR Index.

Beyond gender

Although D&I discussions and initiatives have been progressive, most tend to have a focus on gender, but what happens to the other equally important facets of D&I? Other aspects of D&I, such as background, ethnicity, sexual orientation and people with disabilities, either get lumped together or receive no mention at all.

This needs to change and Refinitiv commits to play its role in raising awareness and influencing companies to be more transparent across the various topics in scope of D&I. Stay tuned for developments in this area.

For a deeper dive into D&I analysis, access our report, Key Factors Driving Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces.


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