SHE Index and EY EQUAL — Helping companies report on D&I

Companies in Norway are obliged to report on Diversity and inclusion. SHE Index and the Equality & Diversity Assessment Tool (EY EQUAL,) are designed to help companies fulfill their activity work.

SHE Index

Written by: Victoria Wæthing

11.11.2021

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Foto: EY / Helga Aune

Companies in Norway are obliged to report on Diversity and inclusion. SHE Index and the Equality & Diversity Assessment Tool (EY EQUAL,) are designed to help companies fulfill their activity work.

—The reporting on diversity and inclusion, is an activity that must be done in a certain way. Companies must issue a report on the achievements in their annual company reports, and the board is responsible to ensure the quality of the work, explains says lawyer (Ph.d) and partner Helga Aune.

SHE Index and EY EQUAL 

EY EQUAL and the SHE Index complement each other. Where EY EQUAL acts as the company’s working tool and mirror to internal use and where the company decides how much they will reveal of the results of the actual measures in their external reports. 

The SHE Index is the mirror to the world, for external use. Both contribute to create change and awareness to make a better working world. 

The SHE Index provides answers as to whether the work, produces the desired results in the actual numbers when you look at gender in leadership positions and in management, pay levels etc. In addition, the SHE Index has the possibilities of benchmarking the results with comparable companies. 

EY EQUAL reports on the actual work and detailed measures that is performed during a year on all the discrimination grounds in all the HR activities.  

Unconscious bias and old habits 

—Equality is about providing equal opportunities to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and beliefs, disability and so on.

—To achieve this, we must challenge the structures we have, especially in the workplaces.  A lot of good equality work is being done in Norwegian workplaces. Nevertheless, a challenge for the enterprises is to obtain sufficient structure and continuity in the equality work, and that the work is anchored from the top, all the way through the business. When work is counted, it is easier, to see. Hopefully this helps us “see” also the unconscious bias and over-steer old habits.  

—At EY, we see that companies need help with this work. The challenge is to collect and structure and document the work. EY EQUAL is useful for ongoing work, in the event of inspection or in cases where the enterprises are taken to the court or tribunal for violations or lack of preventive work. 

—EY has a specialized team on equality and anti-discrimination law and lots of practical experience. EY EQUAL is an app installed at the business own environment and there are no GDPR issues involved. It is a one-time investment and there are no recurrent licenses to pay. It is a tool that we promise will create understanding and growth in line with the company`s values.  

Regulations from the EU 

—The EU has adopted a number of directives and regulations on gender equality and non-discrimination, says Helga. 

—Most fascinating is, however, the EU Commissions strong actions to secure the green shift to a green sustainability and that this involves social sustainability — equality. This is done through strong legislation (CSRD Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive), aimed at the financial investors and reporting obligations for companies. This involves not only environmental green obligations but also social sustainability.

—Social sustainability is about decent work conditions and diversity and inclusion. The reason for the interlink between the green and the social sustainability, you may ask?

—That is because equal opportunities, is a sustainability goal. In addition, we know that we need all the good ideas to be innovative to create good solutions for a sustainable future.  

Fil:Sustainable Development Goals.svg – Wikipedia
UN Sustainable Development Goals

A last interesting reflection on how strong the EU is pushing to create change, is that they are making auditors responsible to check whether or not the companies are compliant on green and social sustainability. Norwegian auditors are already responsible to control that companies are compliant with the activity and reporting obligation. 

· Norwegian anti-discrimination law is largely based on EU legislation and legal practice in this area, and the development of EU law here is of great importance to Norwegian anti-discrimination law. The EU Framework Directive (2000/78/EC) on equal treatment in working life is particularly important. It requires states to introduce protections against discrimination on the basis of, sexual orientation, religion, disability and age.

· Even though the Directive is not part of the EEA Agreement, Norway has nevertheless implemented the regulations in Norwegian law. 

· Directive 2006/54/EC, which is the EU Equal Treatment Directive and prohibits discrimination, harassment due to gender, sexual harassment, and instruction on harassment, is also entirely related to work and professional participation. 

· The EU also has a directive on part-time work (97/81/EC) that applies to non-discrimination and opportunities for part-time work. The purpose is to ensure that part-time employees have equal employment opportunities as full-time employees and prevent differential treatment of part-time employees. ) 

—The European Commission’s proposal to strengthen the use of the equal pay principles through transparency on pay and a set of enforcement mechanisms, is also a gamechanger says Helga.

The proposal was submitted on 4 March 2021. The European Commission wants to introduce common standards for transparency around wages and wage determination where workers can exercise their right to equal pay. 

This is similar to the requirements in the Norwegian activity and reporting obligation.  

Greater transparency on wages and wage determination processes, are already visible in Norwegian law in the company’s duty to report publicly on their activities and measures to avoid gender pay gap.

Every other year, employers must explain detailed the annual report on the results of the wage survey and which employee groups have been compared and assessed in relation to whether there is work of equal value. Union representatives shall be actively involved in the work to develop comparable groups of employees that may be considered to perform work of equal value. The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud may perform controls. 

Equal opportunities for all 

Foto: EY / Helga Aune

EY EQUAL provides companies with the tool they need, to work systematically, in line with the legal requirements. 

EY EQUAL documents all the work and secures a record in the company’s development, and functions as an archive. Having all the documentations in the app makes it easy to produce the annual company report. 

—An important effect is that the workplace becomes more inclusive with equal opportunities when this work is done well, Helga emphasizes. 

EY EQUAL is designed to create understanding and create a work-culture with equal opportunities for all. Since these grounds are universal, EY EQUAL can be used outside Norwegian borders. 

The EY EQUAL dashboard provides the overall picture of the qualitative work done in the business – converted into numbers.

The dashboard has several advantages, for example presenting the status of the D&I agenda to the board, in the annual company report or as the S in the ESG-report. EY EQUAL makes the large-scale D&I work concrete and tangible and ensures that the company fulfills its duty according to the legal requirements.·