Four in 10 compliance professionals, or nearly 40 percent, have experienced discrimination in the workplace at some point during their career, according to a recent survey by the International Compliance Association (ICA).

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The finding is an unsurprising yet disturbingly high number, particularly in the wake of 2020’s global reckoning on racial equality and inclusion. While regulators have been sharpening their focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I), 36 percent of respondents said compliance regulations do not do enough to address D&I, and 48 percent said more could be done by the regulator.

More positively, exactly half of those polled said their company is fully committed to D&I. However, 37 percent claimed more should be done, and 13 percent said D&I had not been adequately addressed at all. A major consideration is that many companies do not connect having a diverse and inclusive workforce to meeting overall business objectives.

ICA President Bill Howarth commented: “As a global organization, we understand that diversity and inclusion is different around the world and that the challenges faced by different groups vary significantly. But we believe that the compliance community is strengthened by being diverse; bringing together many different backgrounds, cultures, and expertise and allowing a broad range of perspectives that represent the communities we serve.”

He added: “The survey’s findings demonstrate some of the gaps in D&I within the compliance function but also the progress made by companies globally to advance D&I. Some of the challenges of fostering a diverse and inclusive culture include ineffective training on the subject or a lack of training altogether as well as fear of discrimination and retaliation. On the other hand, many organizations are focused on D&I as they understand how it improves their culture, performance, and the ability to innovate and manage risk more effectively.”

The survey was completed by over 300 ICA members in September 2020. To learn more about the results, download the ICA’s white paper “Breaking barriers: Advancing diversity and inclusion in the compliance world.” Written in conjunction with Compliance Week, the white paper addresses questions such as:

  • Whose responsibility is diversity and inclusion—compliance, HR, or the board?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges in achieving D&I?
  • Where do companies tend to get D&I wrong?

It also provides commentary and views from compliance practitioners in various industries.

The International Compliance Association is a sister company to Compliance Week. Both organizations are under the umbrella of Wilmington plc.