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For the ninth year in a row, Vlerick Business School and Hudson have carried out an HR Barometer to examine the trends and challenges in HR in Belgium, by conducting a survey among the HR managers and directors of Belgium’s leading for-profit organisations. What is the current state of affairs in the Belgian HR landscape? What areas form the top HR priorities and challenges? Every year, the barometer also examines a hot topic in HR: for this edition of the HR Barometer, we take a closer look at Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). How does HR in Belgium approach DEI? And is HR ready?
In the past year, domains such as Leadership Development, Employer Branding and Well‑being remained high on the agenda, but Selection & Recruitment again emerged as the absolute top priority. Combined with the fact that Retention is this year’s biggest riser in terms of priorities (moving into the top 5), it is clear that HR’s focus lies on Attracting and Retaining new Talent.
In terms of perceived mastery, HR leaders felt most confident about their departments' capabilities in domains such as Well-being, Industrial Relations, Teamwork and – again topping the list – Selection & Recruitment. For this reason, Selection & Recruitment can be regarded a clear strength, having both high priority and high mastery.
However, there are still some areas for improvement for HR. Despite domains like Employer Branding and Digital Transformation being high on the to do-list, HR leaders believe that they still require some extra effort to achieve the desired mastery level. Gradually, more priority is being given to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), making it an extra point of attention for HR, especially as mastery levels in this domain are no longer being overestimated. HR leaders admit that they experience difficulty in taking effective actions related to DEI.
HR leaders generally agree on the importance of DEI to the business survival of their organisations and indicate that DEI is to be a key part of their mission. However, few organisations are happy with the outcomes of current DEI actions. Some DEI initiatives are already taking place, but more on an ad hoc basis and mainly focusing on Communication/Campaigns and Employee Inclusion Surveys.
There is also room for improvement in terms of strategically embedding DEI in most organisations. Even though many HR leaders indicated that DEI was a key part of their mission, further continuous initiatives and investments still need to follow. On top of this, only 36% of the organisations indicated that they had a separate budget to spend on DEI.
Organisations’ commitment to DEI is prompted mostly by Corporate Moral Responsibility, before other drivers such as Access to Talent and Skills, Better Business Outcomes and Corporate Image. This means that HR leaders generally invest in DEI because they feel that it is their moral responsibility to do so.
The rising interest in DEI will bring many opportunities for organisations in the future but also many challenges. Lack of awareness, time restrictions and the lack of access to a diverse population are some of the main obstacles that HR needs to overcome in order to meet the challenges that are associated with DEI.
The HR Barometer is a yearly initiative by Vlerick Business School and Hudson. This online survey was administered to the HR managers and directors of Belgium’s largest for-profit organisations. In total, 111 organisations participated in the survey, which together employ more than 321,000 people. This research was led by Ellen Volckaert (Hudson Benelux) and Professor Dirk Buyens (Vlerick Business School).
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