Gusto and PwC discuss transparency and frequency in diversity-data reporting

The share of companies disclosing diversity data is increasing. Companies like Gusto are leading the way by sharing an internal monthly report.
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Though many leading companies have started publishing workforce diversity reports, the breadth and depth of these disclosures varies widely from organization to organization, and can sometimes obfuscate reality. One company that stands out for its effort is Gusto, an HR software company, which sends a monthly workforce-representation report to all employees.

“It shows that it’s a priority, as opposed to a vanity piece,” Bernard Coleman III, chief diversity and engagement officer at Gusto, told HR Brew, adding that he has not seen this practice used anywhere else. “As a new hire, it makes you feel confident.”

As the business world continues its attempt to make good on the vast social equity promises made in the summer of 2020, diversity-data disclosure is on the rise. Between January 2021 and September 2021, the share of Russell 1000 companies disclosing at least some “racial and ethnic” workforce data increased from 32% to 55%, according to JUST Capital.

These companies are disclosing their workforce-diversity data in order to demonstrate transparency, a commitment to company values, and perhaps also to appease the markets. Investors, along with employees and customers, are more interested in these figures than ever before. Companies committed to the highest level of disclosure performed 2.4% better over a study period of eight months than their Russell 1000 counterparts that did not.

This may not be a causal relationship; it may be that companies willing to disclose are better run—with strong company leadership, HR practices, and thriving cultures—and that’s why they perform better. Either way, there seems to be some correlation between having strong diversity data disclosure practices and company success.

“As companies, we realize that our stakeholder groups have grown immensely,” Shannon Schuyler, chief purpose and inclusion officer at PwC, told HR Brew. “Clients are very eager to have an idea of the different actions that we’re taking” on diversity, inclusion, and social equity.

Beyond ethical considerations, internal stakeholders are interested in how diversity initiatives drive company success, an important line that Schuyler and her team draw and set with their representation goals.

By 2026, PwC is “looking to achieve a 50% increase in our Black and Hispanic/Latinx workforce, looking at a goal of increasing by 50% [both] our female and racial/ethnic diversity pipeline to be partners, looking to get at 40% of our reportable spend to be with diverse suppliers, and to set a timeline for that, and then now having individual annual goals in order to get there,” Schuyler shared.

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Coleman said that after joining Gusto in 2020, one of the first things he did was go through the historical data, which had been released to employees since 2016. In 2018, it became formalized in the company newsletter. Coleman said he was impressed that the company had this much attention on diversity before he took over his newly-created position. “It helped me see that diversity, equity, inclusion was in the DNA.”

For companies in the early stages or perhaps sharing their first workforce diversity report, Schuyler has some advice: make sure the report tells a story and isn’t just a data dump.

“Sometimes, in the spirit of wanting to share a lot, it kind of turns into stuff versus [telling] a story. I think you need to have a narrative about what you are trying to accomplish,” she explained.

At PwC, the diversity disclosure started as an internal report before it was a public one. Today, partners have daily access to the data, while all employees have regular access to updated data on social and sustainability efforts. Schuyler said she is considering how to expand the “aperture” so that more employees can see the workforce diversity data more frequently, and act on it.

An organization’s diversity information, Schuyler said, “has to be something that you’re looking at far more frequently than even every month, but really every day, and looking at the nuances of what people are getting as far as feedback, what projects they’re on, what clients they’re working on.”—AK

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