Tracking the impact of Diversity & Inclusion 

April 23, 2021


Research on Diversity & Inclusion strategies among large Danish companies reveals opportunities for deeper impact. 

Inclusive Matters presents its 3rd edition of The Diversity Footprint - a benchmark of reported diversity ambitions from Denmark's largest listed companies.

In a year that upended the traditional way of working, new factors are influencing the operations and leadership of organizations. Now, the employee experience, the demand for diverse talent, and the emergence of of purpose driven work are converging with traditional stakeholder perspectives. How well these new ways of working are integrated into businesses depends in large part on the Diversity & Inclusion strategies developed.

The Diversity Footprint assesses the impact of a company's collective D&I messaging and results externally. The higher the score, the more likely that the company's D&I culture connects with a wider cross-section of its stakeholders.

We hope that companies will use our insights to develop cohesive D&I strategies, that enable an inclusive & diverse culture to flourish.



Our research covered the 24 companies comprising Denmark's C25 as of April 1, 2021.

The data we used is publicly available information. Corporate governance reporting materials used included:

Annual report for 2020
The most recent Diversity Policy
The current ESG/CSR/ Sustainability reports 

We sourced corporate websites, LinkedIn, and historical ranking databases for Financial Times and Refinitiv.  In addition we utilized search engines, searching company names in connection with "diversity. 
We also collected information from corporate websites, LinkedIn, and through the inclusion ranking sites for Forbes, Refinitiv and Financial Times. 

Our measurements included: 
The diverse composition of executive leadership, the diverse composition of shareholder elected board of directors, an available diversity policy, the age of the diversity policy, the reporting of D&I programs & initiatives, the availability of diversity metrics, documented improvements to the diversity metrics, the presence of a dedicated global D&I leadership role, how D&I programs are connected to the business, the broader communication to the market, and D&I related PR 


Chief executive and board positions are increasingly appointed to foreign nationals.


The interactive graph shows the significant increase of foreign born CEOs over the last three years.*  Women CEOs have also increased representation, though at a slower rate than foreign born CEOs. In 2019, only one woman led a C25 company. Today there are three. Also included in this measurement are CEOs with intersectional diversity, those possessing more than one diverse background.  


Our data shows that the presence of a diverse CEO alone does not constitute a mature culture of inclusivity & diversity. Other factors play a significant role.

*CEOs identified were in the role upon the publishing of their 2020 annual report 

The average length of this year's annual report from C25 companies was 132 pages and "diversity" (in the context of D&I) was mentioned 13.2 times.  In 2020, the average length was 6 pages longer, yet  "diversity" was mentioned 36% less.

Annual reports serve as a main channel for communication to shareholders. Frequent use of "diversity" in this document helps to normalize the concept and culture with traditional stakeholders.  


The C25 has a sizable increase in dedicated, global D&I roles. The vast majority are embedded in the HR function.

This interactive graph shows the growing representation of dedicated, global D&I leadership functions. In 2019, a single company had a fully dedicated role responsible for global/group strategies. Now there are seven.


Data from D&I recruitments indicate that all D&I positions in the C25 are part of the HR function. Whereas in other geographies, global D&I roles are shifting into strategic roles, with closer ties to commercial, communication and external functions 


More than half of the C25 use the corporate website to promote a culture of D&I. An internet search will show first results at the company's Diversity Policy, followed by a dedicated website.Recent D&I recruitments follow for some.  And fewer will have search results that include Diversity network affiliations. and Diversity award recognition.  The path of information about D&I in danish companies is short. 

A lack of transparency threatens to could be turning off potential hires and suppliers and customers.



C25 diversity initiatives are predominantly focused on gender and nationality.  


The challenge ahead is  to genuinely connect with and endorse other  diverse groups - some of which have polarizing and nuanced issues. 


International businesses require robust D&I roadmaps that have a comprehensive approach for its racially, ethnically, religiously diverse stakeholders around the world.