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Is your reward strategy applicable to a diverse workforce?

Diversity & Inclusion has been a huge talking point of 2020 and rightly so. The tragic events earlier in the year, especially in the black community have encouraged businesses to think about what they are doing from a D&I perspective and how they are making their workplaces more inclusive for their workforce.

That being said, whilst Covid19 has certainly moved us forward by a number of years in terms of flexibility, working from home and how we value technology and our networks, I can’t help but think it has also set us back a few months in terms of Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace, as it has been somewhat masked (excuse the pun) by the Covid19 pandemic. HR teams have been pulled left right and centre to manage the current circumstances and it’s only been over the last month that I have started to hear senior reward professionals bringing up the topic of D&I and how it is part of the agenda for 2021.

Whilst the D&I strategy will usually sit with a specialist in this field, it is also important that Reward are heavily involved. Benefits, Wellbeing and Performance Management are three pillars which are vital when considering D&I and whether the strategy you currently have in place is applicable and attractive to all individuals in order to attract a diverse workforce.

As Josh Bersin, leading researcher and industry analyst, rightly put:

“Companies that create diverse and inclusive work environments are more adaptable, creative, and become magnets that attract top talent.”

Where did this come from?

Three months ago I had an extremely interesting discussion with a senior Benefits professional who highlighted to me the importance of introducing a diverse reward strategy. At first my (naïve) thoughts were “but how can a reward offering not be diverse?” It was very simply explained to me that, whilst the offering in itself can’t necessarily change, the way we approach promoting our offering internally, can have huge impact on uptake of benefits and whether individuals thrive and progress in an organisation. Non-monetary rewards are typically centred around colleague nomination processes, which can be subject to individual/systemic bias and as a result can exclude certain groups.

Throughout Covid19 many businesses have implemented new tools to promote mental wellbeing. Whilst the majority of people have appreciated the access to these tools, depending on their upbringing, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, the likelihood of equal use of available tools will vary. It is important that we are considering our wellbeing tools and whether they are inclusive for a diverse workforce, and think carefully about using inclusive engagement channels to promote them and ensure all colleagues understand the benefits and benefit from access.

Similarly, Performance Management strategies need to be considered to ensure that we are encouraging development across all employees. This can be done in a number of ways including; setting clear goal based on facts, limiting bias, encouraging the use of inclusive language, reinforcing inclusive behaviours and openly asking employees how they feel -

Performance Management plays a significant role in many other organisational processes, and any bias within these processes are likely to cause further negative impact in redundancy, remuneration and talent processes, amongst others. It is therefore important to get this right.

Reward professionals have a huge opportunity to shape what the future of the organisation looks like and whilst businesses might not be looking at attracting talent in this tough market, it elevates the importance on their ability to retain diverse colleagues.


I decided to do some analysis into the diversity, both in terms of gender and ethnicity within the FTSE100 and FTSE250 reward population and unfortunately, I wasn’t too surprised as to what I found.

It is worth noting, that whilst we are looking at 350 organisations, not all have a reward function, or someone operating at executive level from a reward perspective in the UK. In total, we are looking at roughly 150 organisations.



42% are female, 58% male. Less than 10% are from an ethnic diverse background


48% are female, 52% male. Less than 3% are from an ethnic diverse background

Of all of those individuals identified, we did not come across any individuals who had publicly identified themselves as gender-neutral.

If we are looking to create an inclusive reward offering, we need to be ensuring that the individuals at the top are banging the drum and leading from the front. It is great to see that there is almost an even split between male and females however, it is clear that we have some way to go in terms of ethnicity.

I also think it is critical to highlight the LGBT community. It was more difficult to include research around this due to lack of available data but again, it is a key area and we need to increase the numbers of LGBT individuals in the workforce. I attended a virtual event recently hosted by InterInvest regarding Diversity in Investment Management and it is great to hear how successful this group has been at encouraging diversity, particularly around the LGBT community into the IM world. Again, it is clear that there is still a long way to go but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and the issue seems to mainly lie at the top of the tree, with Senior Management level and above.


We can clearly see that there has been progress with gender diversity (within the reward population) which is probably down to the movements over the last few years and since Gender Pay Gap reporting was made mandatory from 2017 - something that reward folk have been heavily involved in. I am however disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, at the lack of ethnic diversity within the FTSE250 reward professionals.

There are some fantastic examples of organisations that are promoting diversity within the workplace and I have highlighted some articles to hopefully provide some ideas, both reward and non-reward related. I’ve also included a handful of external organisations that are working alongside businesses to encourage diversity and raise the awareness across various industries.

Organisations have a long road ahead but with the global pandemic, it is even more crucial that businesses have a clear D&I agenda and Reward are a critical part of this. Increasing the knowledge, awareness and internal training for individuals will hopefully continue to shift this dial and create a more inclusive and attractive workplace and ultimately, help retain a diverse workforce.

Useful articles to review:

Off the back of this research, I will be looking to host roundtables for Reward Directors and Heads of Reward over the coming months to discuss what organisations are currently doing and how we can improve diversity. We will also be inviting along seasoned D&I professionals to provide their input.

If you would be interested in attending, please send me an email on and I will share proposed dates with you.

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