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01 Mar 2023
by Gemma Carroll

Karen Gaynor at Diageo outlines how to maintain focus on DEI and ESG

With budgets being squeezed and slower growth forecast, are we in danger of broader issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) being pushed down the rewards and benefits agenda?

Karen Gaynor describes how Diageo maintains focus on DEI and ESG.jpg


Karen Gaynor, reward director, Europe & Africa at Diageo, expanded on this concern during REBA’s recent webinar Reward and benefits trends for 2023, supported by Workhuman.

A rise in reporting

As the focus for many organisations shifts to pay, we need to ensure that we’re not moving backwards in terms of DEI and ESG. In order to combat this, we’re likely to see an increase in demand for reporting, with the expectation being that HR will take a stronger role in supporting these societal metrics.

“There's always a risk that things can go backwards,” warned Gaynor. “But the question is, what are we doing to ensure that that doesn’t happen? How can we introduce support to decision-makers, at the point of making the decision?”

An example of this is unintentional biases. It’s not difficult for  biases to creep into pay, recognition or reward decisions, and there are many software solutions available to help check for language bias to screen out those accidental tendencies that could lead to unintentionally excluding populations, preventing companies from being truly inclusive.

“We have a role to play in these processes,” she added, “to make sure that all decision-making flows through to holistically fair outcomes, which are then reported to ESG. There’s definitely more that we can do in this area.”

Transparency attracts talent

Something else HR professionals are seeing is an increased interest from candidates on companies’ positions on gender pay. Diageo will be exploring more gender and ethnicity pay reporting over the coming year.

“We recognise that it brings additional costs, but it also brings increased transparency, which drives action within the business,” Gaynor explained. “For any company that doesn’t pay attention to this, I think that’s going to be very dangerous for talent attraction and retention.”

Keep education accessible

Sally Elcome, senior reward and recognition manager at ISS Facility Services UK, shared Gaynor’s concerns. We understand that the priority for most right now is pay, but our senior management team is keen to ensure that, going forward, the focus is around health and wellbeing, including financial wellbeing.

“As one of the strategic aims to come from the ISS senior leadership team, we will be offering education and formal qualifications to 100,000 of our worldwide employees and their family members” said Elcome. “We want to make sure that this opportunity is available to them.”

One of the challenges for ISS is that its diverse workforce is spread across the globe, and for many English is not their first language. The company is currently putting in place a mental health support programme that will be distributed to frontline staff via mobile. To help with this, ISS has launched an English language app, so that all communication surrounding their mental health support can be downloaded through the app. This smart delivery will help to ensure inclusivity throughout the business.