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60% of companies in Spain have devoted more resources to diversity and innovation during the pandemic, according to Innodiversity Index 2021

El árbol de la innodiversidad | IE University

Strong commitment to inclusion: according to Innodiversity Index 2021, eight out of 10 companies have paid particular attention to gender diversity management during the pandemic.

The number of companies that have made progress in managing diversity and innovation has increased over the last two years, especially during the pandemic: 60% of organizations consulted say they have devoted greater resources both human, economic and organizational to managing inclusion and driving innovation during this period.

This is one of the findings of Innodiversity Index 2021, carried out by the Fundación para la Diversidad—the organization tasked with promoting diversity management in Spain—and IE University’s IE Foundation, in collaboration with HP and Pfizer.

Innodiversity—a concept coined by the authors of the study, Celia de Anca, Vice Dean of Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion at IE University, and Salvador Aragón—General Director of Innovation at IE University—increases the competitiveness of organizations based on their ability to jointly manage diversity and innovation. In Spain, 38% of companies already have diversity management policies in place. The figure varies depending on the size of the company: 44 % of large Spanish companies already have policies in this regard; ten points above the value of the first Innodiversity Index, in 2019, followed by small (36%) and medium-sized companies (26%).

“Innovation and diversity are two inseparable pillars. Diversity in teams boosts creativity and innovation, which are key for improving the efficiency and competitiveness of companies. A commitment to diversity management can only bring benefits for companies, regardless of their size and sector of activity.”
Sergio Rodríguez, General Manager of Pfizer Spain

More and more business leaders are realizing that one of the greatest strengths of organizations lies in the talent and diversity of the people that make them up, and are paying more attention to these aspects. In addition, most companies are working to intensify their innovation policies, with the aim of improving their competitiveness.

“We live in a diverse society and companies must reflect that in order to attract talent, connect with new consumers and transmit new ideas and solutions that positively influence our environment and people. Digitalization has brought with it new ways of understanding business and teams. Only the combination of innovation and diversity can help create an ecosystem of social and economic growth, capable of responding to the challenges we must face up to if we are to build a better future,” adds Helena Herrero, HP President for Southern Europe.

The pandemic as an opportunity to advance diversity and innovation

The crisis caused by Covid-19 has also been felt in the fields of diversity and innovation. But paradoxically, the health crisis has been a boost to improvement efforts in these areas. In response to the new social and economic environment, Spanish businesses have seen innovation as the tool to help them adapt to the new business ecosystem, and 74% of companies already manage it in some form, typically through the use of new technologies and the creation of specific teams.

Looking at the processes where companies innovate the most, it’s clear they have expanded innovation in their business models in response to the new crisis environment with the aim of exploring new value propositions that will enable them to compete in an increasingly demanding market. Innovation, found in 57% of companies in 2019, has increased to 66%. Companies have discovered that they can be disruptive and seek to bring about a significant change in the market by making use of innovation.

Similarly, businesses in Spain have reinforced their commitment to innovation in internal processes, a figure that has grown to 71%, followed by the generation of new products or services to adapt to current needs (70%), and customer relationship management, a process where 68% of companies are already innovating.

Focusing on the type of diversity, it is particularly striking that 87% of companies have focused on the management of gender diversity, 73% on people with disabilities 71% on senior talent, and 45% on the talent of staff belonging to the LGBTI group.

“One of the effects of the pandemic has been to make people and their care a priority. And this has also been understood by organizations, their executives and the governance policies developed, which have worked to make progress in improving the well-being of their employees, in turn improving the management of diversity and inclusion.”
Mª Eugenia Girón Dávila, President of the Fundación para la Diversidad

Spain-based companies commit to senior talent

Comparing the figures of the 2021 study with those from 2019, it’s clear that all the parameters have changed, given the greater interest of Spanish companies in diversity management in all groups: interest in senior talent has increased by just over six points compared to 2019, and now stands at 71.4%, especially in large companies, where it has risen from 56% to 70% in 2021.

At the same time, interest in attracting people with disabilities has also increased, albeit marginally, from 72.1% to 73.4%. The commitment to gender diversity remains highest, although it hasn’t changed significantly compared to 2019, and remains at 87.2%.

This means that more and more companies are taking specific measures to implement inclusion policies, along with tools that allow them to quantify the impact of these policies on the group: more than 74% of large companies have indicators to measure the impact of gender policies, while 51 % measure the management of people with disabilities, and 38% do so with the senior group.

“Companies operating in Spain are committed to diversity, managing it to drive innovation. The Innodiversidad report shows that the key to navigating the turbulent times in which we live is the collaboration between diversity and innovation units that will bring companies to a successful conclusion,”
Celia de Anca and Salvador Aragón, who are responsible for the report

However, despite the progress in all the Index’s indicators, companies need to pay special attention to managing LGBTI talent. Once again, commitment to this group in the work environment ranks lowest: only 45.5% of companies pay special attention to LGBTI inclusion; a figure that is slightly lower in large companies, despite its increase with respect to 2019, from 40.4% to 44.9%.

And although companies are beefing up their policies to attract and manage LGBTI talent, including measures such as safe procedures to deal with possible cases of discrimination, as well as courses and events to raise awareness and eliminate biases, they still have a lot of work ahead: only 27 % of companies have tools to measure the real impact of these policies on the LGBTI collective.

Spanish companies: experts in diversity management

The study, in which 297 companies of all sizes and fields took part, with AmChamSpain and the Franco-Spanish Chamber of Commerce sharing the results among their member companies, reveals that all the indicators that make up the Innodiversity Index have increased: diversity, innovation and innodiversity.

Using the Diversity Tree—a research tool that allows companies to diagnose themselves and make decisions to correct mistakes and improve their competitiveness, the report assesses companies in these areas, classifying them into four categories: uncommitted, committed, expert and benchmark.

The results show that companies based in Spain have reached the expert category in diversity management, surpassing the 2019 rating; while in innovation management it reaffirms its expert status. Regarding innodiversity management, Spain-based companies obtained the rating of committed, highlighting the need for improvement in this area.

Focusing on innovation, businesses in the energy and water, financial services, professional services and technology sectors have reached the highest category in the analysis, positioning themselves as benchmark companies in this area, thanks to their efforts in developing policies and actions to promote innovation, which also allow them to position themselves as a model for other companies to follow.

“Progress in diversity and inclusion is a great opportunity that we must take advantage of to promote a change in society and drive sustainable economic growth. To this end, it is also essential to advance in innovation policies that allow us to boost competitiveness. Spanish companies are increasingly aware of the importance of its value, so we must continue working on its implementation and on specific tools to quantify change.”
Giuseppe Tringali, Vice President of IE’s International Advisory Board