How Will EU CSRD Change DE&I Management and Reporting?

The EDGE and EDGEplus Standards optimize CSRD compliance in DE&I topics and fast-track effective, consistent reporting across regulatory frameworks, using data sourced from HR and DE&I professionals. Whether reporting locally or globally, these standards serve as a robust, unified data source. 

Using EDGE and EDGEplus Standards can boost CSRD compliance in DE&I, while offering a single, reliable data source for consistent reporting.


The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) has been approved and will require all EU companies to disclose data on the risks, opportunities, and impacts of their activities on people and the environment. This new directive will help ensure that EU companies and subsidiaries of global non-EU firms are transparent and accountable when it comes to their environmental and social impact. The purpose of the CSRD is to strengthen the existing requirements of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), and to ensure that companies report more detailed and reliable information on all relevant environmental, social and governance elements based on clearly delineated reporting standards.

Who is Impacted?

  • Listed companies
  • All large companies – companies with more than 250 employees and more than €40M turnover and/or more than €20M in total assets
  • Non-EU companies with EU-based subsidiaries, or with securities on EU-regulated markets, which have a net turnover of over €150M within the EU
  • Listed small and medium enterprises (SMEs) (SMEs have the option to opt out of the directive during a transitional period until 2028)

The Required Timeline

The sustainability reporting rules will start applying between 2024 and 2028.

  • From 1 January 2024 for large public-interest companies with over 500 employees already subject to the NFRD (with reports due in 2025 based on 2024 fiscal year data)
  • From 1 January 2025 for large companies that are not presently subject to the NFRD (with reports due in 2026 based on 2025 fiscal year data)
  • From 1 January 2026 for listed SMEs (with reports due in 2027 based on 2026 fiscal year data). SMEs can opt out until 2028.

How Will EU CSRD Change DE&I Reporting?

Download the document now


The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)


Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

Understanding The Barriers to Tackling Sexual Harassment


Author: Aniela Unguresan

Founder, EDGE Certified Foundation


In this article, discover how organizations can combat sexual harassment and foster safer, more inclusive work environments by taking on impunity, banning silencing agreements, and championing gender diversity.

In September 2023, a research paper published in the British Journal of Surgery regarding female NHS surgeons revealed:

  • 29.9% had been sexually assaulted
  • 63.3% had been sexually harassed
  • 89.5% had witnessed other staff being sexually harassed.

The reaction to these statistics was widespread shock and incomprehension. But should it be so surprising?

If workplaces are not effectively creating a culture of equality, transparency and accountability, and if they are not putting in place robust anti-harassment policies, then these are the consequences. We can’t simply hope that things change. Hope is not a strategy. We must actively drive change. We must be disruptive.

Clearly, there is work to be done regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. And we need commitment from organizations to analyse and address these challenges with rigour and discipline. To drive sustainable gender equality, reduce harassment and discrimination and ensure fair treatment for victims of harassment and assault, organizations should focus on three key areas:

1. The culture of impunity

A friend recently told me about someone he knows whose CEO was fired for sexual harassment. Everyone knew he had a reputation for “wandering hands”. He even had a nickname that reflected his reputation. And yet everyone within that organization felt that anything they said or did would be pointless; that he would get away with everything.

That is a culture of impunity. And it is sadly all too common.

Sexual harassment cases are very private. And this makes it difficult for organizations to analyse and correct the actions they took. When an employee violates an organization’s code of conduct and is fired, everybody knows why that person was fired (for example for fraud, violent conduct, etc.)

However, when somebody is fired for concerns related to sexual harassment, nobody knows about it unless they are a very public figure – that person simply disappears from one moment to another.

Overcoming this culture of impunity requires organizations to take a strong stance against harassment:

  • To ensure that appropriate actions are taken regardless of the perpetrator’s status or achievements within the workplace
  • To create a culture where victims are empowered to speak up without the fear of negative consequences or – as is often the case – complacency.

2. Silencing agreements and private arbitration

In the US, Congress passed a law in late 2022 to ban non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements in cases of sexual harassment. Known as the Speak Out Act, the legislation is part of the government’s reaction to the MeToo movement, and it formally recognizes that silencing agreements feed into the culture of impunity.

However, many organizations assume that silencing agreements are illegal across the UK and Europe when they are not.

On 5 September 2023, the use of non-disclosure agreements in the workplace was debated in UK parliament. During the discussion, MP Peter Grant stated: “I do not think that I have ever seen agreement among so many speakers in a debate.

“[…] there was a time when NDAs were routinely abused between powerful men to cover up each other’s crimes and frauds. Most NDAs now are being used by powerful men to silence and victimize vulnerable women, and that is the abuse of the system that must be dealt with most urgently.”

While it is promising that governments are taking steps to improve the situation, organizations shouldn’t be waiting for silencing agreements to be illegal before restricting their use. Policies must move with the times and organizations must face the consequences if they don’t.

Zelda Perkins, former assistant to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, summed this up neatly in her June 2023 Financial Times article: “[…] the wall of silence created by NDAs is beginning to crumble. People are speaking to the press out of desperation as businesses fail to deal with the problems. NDAs are now as likely to signpost issues as they are to protect reputations.”

And so, organizational policies must restrict the use of silencing agreements, except when requested by the victim, to ensure accountability and transparency in sexual harassment cases.

There is a similar issue around private arbitration.

Many employees are scared to publicly lose their claim – something many of them assume will happen due to the financial imbalance between them and the corporate defence. As a result, we have seen this emerging tendency of taking employment issues into the private sphere where accountability and transparency are constricted.

Silencing agreements and private arbitration can prevent victims from seeking justice and can contribute to a culture of secrecy around harassment cases. By proactively banning these, organizations can protect the rights of victims and promote a more open discussion of harassment issues.

3. Lack of equal representation and inclusive culture

Having equal representation and an inclusive culture is one of the most fundamental ways to uproot harassment and discrimination.

Not only can diverse boards consider a broader range of viewpoints when decision-making, but women in senior positions can also help ensure that perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace are not tolerated. A study from 2021 found that increasing the number of female directors by just a single individual can be directly linked to a 20% decrease (approx.) in sexual harassment.

Representation and inclusiveness of culture are two pillars of the EDGE Global Standards – the world’s leading global standards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) that underpin EDGE Certification.

However, the focus on representation must not be at board level only. Gender diversity should be at all levels, throughout the talent pipeline. This is how power becomes effectively redistributed and can make a meaningful impact on workplace culture and reduce sexual harassment.

Drive meaningful change in your organization with EDGE Empower

DGE Empower is the leading software for workplace DE&I and the way to become eligible for EDGE Certification.

  • Tackle issues like sexual harassment and gender inequity with precision
  • Track and measure your journey towards a fairer workplace
  • Build a robust DE&I and ESG reporting framework
  • Gain credibility by demonstrating your commitment and progress through independent third-party certification.

Wherever you are on your DE&I journey, discover how EDGE Empower can help you apply the same rigour and discipline as you would to any other business-critical mission.

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Download PDF

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

Sexual Harassment: The Work is Never Done


Author: Aniela Unguresan

Founder, EDGE Certified Foundation


In a world where progress can quickly be reversed, we must remember that the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace is perpetual. It is time for organizations to take proactive measures, strengthen their anti-harassment policies, and create a culture that values equality, dignity, and respect.

2023 marks 50 years since Billie Jean King, EDGE Certification ambassador, successfully fought for equal prize money for men and women at the US Open. But when speaking at the anniversary event in August, King highlighted that working towards gender equality hasn’t stopped:

“While we celebrate today, our work is far from done. Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and you win it in every generation.”

The younger generation may not know about King’s battle for gender equality in tennis and beyond. And in some ways, it doesn’t matter; there are always new battles to fight.

The work is never done.

Michelle Obama, also speaking at the anniversary event, echoed this: “This is about how women are seen and valued in this world. We have seen how quickly progress like this can be taken away if we are not mindful and vigilant, if we do not keep remembering and advocating and organizing and speaking out and, yes, voting.”

It is, in some ways, frustrating that the fight is never over, but we must not be discouraged. Times change. Societal expectations change. And every generation has the duty to rethink what gender equality is in the context of their own experience and continue advancing toward it.

Every generation has the duty to rethink what equality is and continue advancing toward it.

“I’m still trying to learn more and more all the time,” Billie Jean King said to PBS in a discussion about equal pay. “I’m not that emphatic. I’m trying to figure it out.”

The ongoing battle against sexual harassment

On 20 August 2023, Luis Rubiales, then boss of Spain’s football federation (RFEF), kissed player Jenni Hermoso while celebrating the nation’s success at the Women’s World Cup final. The backlash was swift and fierce. Hermoso stated to the media that she did not consent to the kiss and Rubiales – despite his protestations that he had done nothing wrong – eventually resigned from his position and was handed a restraining order by the Spanish courts.

This is a very public example of sexual harassment in the workplace. And it perfectly demonstrates why we must never stop progressing, never stop moving and adapting. The progress made through the popularisation of women’s football was undone with a stark reminder that gender equity is a perpetual challenge.

Billie Jean King is right: time moves on, and you must move with it.

This is the very real reason why organizations must strengthen their anti-sexual harassment policies. If it isn’t robust enough to prevent sexual harassment, business leaders can’t be surprised by the consequences of their inaction. Only disruption can bring change.

Take the first step

Organizations must actively develop a culture in which harassment is known to be unacceptable and in which victims can raise concerns with the full confidence that they will be taken seriously and dealt with promptly and discreetly.

Organizations must actively develop a culture in which harassment is known to be unacceptable.

The first step to achieving this is to put in place a robust policy to prohibit and prevent sexual harassment that demonstrates the organizations values around equality, dignity and respect at work.

What is included in an anti-harassment policy?

  • A clear purpose: a commitment to providing a harassment-free workplace for all employees
  • Legislation with which the organization must comply and legal definitions of key terms
  • Objectives and actions, such as providing resources and introducing mandatory training
  • How complaints can be raised, informally and formally, and how they will be investigated
  • Who is responsible for policy implementation and who is ultimately accountable for its success
  • How the policy’s effectiveness will be measured and when the policy will be reviewed
  • How the progress against actions will be communicated.

Now is the time to act. Choose EDGE Empower, today

The work around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) may be ongoing, but with EDGE Empower, you can apply the same rigour and discipline as you would to any other business-critical mission. Stay up to date with the latest DE&I thinking, measure progress against your DE&I goals and credibly demonstrate your commitment to change by becoming EDGE Certified.

Make your organization a place where people want to work, where clients buy, and where investors invest.

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Download PDF

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

From Tennis Courts to Corporate Governance, Here’s How Far Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Have Come


Authors: Billie Jean King (Founder, Billie Jean King Enterprises)

and Aniela Unguresan (Founder, EDGE Certified Foundation)


The following joint commentary by Billie Jean King and Aniela Unguresan was published by* on 3 August 2023.

We come from different parts of the world and have taken different career paths, one of us starting as a professional tennis player and the other as an economist. But like many people, we have experienced inequality through fewer opportunities, less pay, and the discounting of our expertise. Driven by the desire to have our ideas, capabilities, and actions acknowledged and appreciated and to advocate for fairness and equity, we fought to open doors and minds. Along our respective journeys, we’ve identified two principal factors preventing progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)–an unproductive amount of risk aversion and resistance to change.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action, which prohibits race-conscious college admissions, signals new challenges to DEI initiatives may be on the horizon. Even before the court’s ruling, we saw signs of backsliding on DEI, reinforcing our resolve to continue fighting to dismantle systemic barriers and create inclusive workplaces where everyone can thrive.

Risk aversion can hinder growth and prevent individuals or organizations from seizing valuable opportunities. We understand that some executives may feel intimidated, leading to decision paralysis. However, we encourage you to shift your mindset and embrace a different perspective. Indeed, being overly risk-averse can cause you to miss opportunities that could have yielded substantial results.

We are no strangers to risk ourselves, having had to navigate the identification, assessment, and mitigation of threats or uncertainties that could have impacted our careers. Our experiences have shown us that adopting a positive outlook and robust approach can yield remarkable results.

I am Billie Jean King. Let me take you back 50 years, when 60 women gathered in London to discuss the creation of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

In a sport primarily rooted in individual competition, the new entity would unify the members’ voices and serve as the forum for collaborating on common goals and advocating for their interests and concerns. Every woman in the room evaluated the risk of the opportunity, and they voted to form the WTA. That momentous outcome enormously impacted women’s professional tennis, which has grown to more than 70 tournaments and more than $180 million in prize money. The impact spread far beyond tennis, creating the foundation for the women’s sports industry that is in place today.

Progress, including in the area of DEI, also demands disruptive change. Executives may accept this idea in theory, as they express excitement and enthusiasm when discussing disruption and change, since these concepts are commonly associated with innovation, growth, and staying ahead of the competition. However, despite the professed commitment to change, many workplaces are stuck in time, perpetuating outdated practices and failing to embrace DEI’s potential. By doing this, they are missing opportunities to embrace a change that can produce transformative outcomes and unlock new possibilities for individuals and organizations.

I am Aniela Unguresan. In 2013, a novel idea began to take shape in my mind: How could the rigor and discipline of data collection, analysis, and objective measurement be brought to the DEI space? The thought presented a series of intriguing choices.

The crucial element was finding ways to integrate DEI into the heart of the value creation process within organizations rather than approaching it as a superficial add-on. Realizing this goal meant we could harness the power of technology to implement objective measurement standards and secure independent verification to make change happen fast, in a scalable way, and at the global level.

It was vitally important to cultivate a different mindset among HR and DEI professionals so they would be receptive to embracing a new approach and technology and embed a systematic and structured approach into an area that was considered highly subjective and, therefore, difficult to measure. Lastly, it was necessary to focus on a very specific set of indicators of current status and progress over time that would serve as the foundation for creating DEI strategies as part of and aligned with the overall business.

The concept worked. Today, hundreds of EDGE-certificated organizations across 57 countries and 27 industries base their DEI strategies, priorities, and roadmaps on robust indicators, performance standards, and independent third-party verification. The early adopters now see DEI as a driver of value creation that makes their organizations more sustainable, agile, and resilient.

In our respective journeys, we have advocated for fairness and worked to dismantle systematic disadvantages because we believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, a voice in the conversation, and a vote in their future.

The evidence demonstrating the positive impact of DEI–where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered–on innovation, culture, and growth is overwhelming. Overall, the change that comes from DEI is necessary and beneficial. Let’s seize this moment by coming together to accelerate progress and create a legacy for future generations. We’re keeping our commitments to DEI, taking bold actions, and making a positive impact–and we’re encouraging you to join us.

*Links not in original publication.

Keep reading

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Download PDF

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

A 5-Step Guide to Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Unlock the path to pay equity: our practical guide developed in partnership with Billie Jean King.

As regulations on pay transparency tighten and employee expectations rise, organizations that embrace pay equity and transparency will thrive. With more than one-fourth of the US labour force already covered by salary transparency legislation, and recent strengthened requirements in the EU, the need for action is clear.

Our guide, “A 5-step Guide to Closing the Gender Pay Gap,” is your roadmap to drive real change. Backed by reliable sources and packed with insights and actionable steps, this guide empowers organizations to implement impactful actions that eliminate pay disparities and earn recognition from stakeholders wherever they are in DE&I journey.

In this guide, you will discover a roadmap to close the workplace pay gap in your organization and its milestones:

  • Establish an authentic policy on equal pay
  • Measure and address the unexplained gender pay gap
  • Embrace an intersectional approach to understand how various criteria intersect in pay discrepancies
  • Develop a clear remediation strategy to build a gender-balanced talent pipeline
  • Maintain transparent communication to foster conversations around pay equity
  • Empower line managers to facilitate constructive discussions on pay equity.

The time for change is now! 

Click ‘Full guide’ to download your copy of our guide to close the gap


A 5-Step Guide to Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

Becoming Compliant in a Complex DE&I Landscape


In July 2023, EDGE Certified Foundation published EquiNations, a traffic-light system of regulatory requirements and other indicators related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) across the 20 countries where most of the EDGE Certified organizations are located. 


EquiNations highlights in a visual and impactful way the complexities of the DE&I landscape; not a single country achieves a ‘green’ across the board and even within the European Union, there are varying levels of progress. There is clearly more work to be done. And yet there is a truth just as strong as the desire for forward movement: legislation is, in and of itself, a useful tool for DE&I progress – for increased transparency and increased accountability. 

Mandated reporting and other compliance requirements help to put DE&I on the priority list for organizations. It is a topic that can no longer be ignored unless you want to be confronted with the fines associated with non-compliance as well as the negative impact on the reputational value of being the organization at the back of the crowd! 

With the increasing regulatory pressure in the EU and heightened transparency regulations in the US, compliance is unavoidable. And EDGE Certification, powered by EDGE Empower, can help your organization meet its legal obligations and demonstrate commitment to DE&I to internal and external stakeholders. 

With the increasing regulatory pressure in the EU, DE&I compliance becomes top of mind for organizations and their leaders.

Future-proof your organization from regulatory changes

Being EDGE Certified means effectively future-proofing your organization. It means having the support to remain compliant in a fast-changing regulatory landscape. And, as EDGE Certification is independently verified by third-party auditors, it means applying the same discipline and rigour to DE&I compliance as you do to other business-critical requirements.  

We know that companies have limited resources. We know that they must comply, get the job done and show progress. We also know how important it is for them to choose those instruments that allow them to fulfil all these objectives and navigate themselves through a minefield of changing regulations. 

That is why we exist. EDGE Certification is a voluntary marketplace mechanism – a critical instrument that EDGE Certified organizations can use to demonstrate both regulatory compliance and their proactive commitment to DE&I while credibly communicating their journey towards DE&I maturity

Leading the way for DE&I compliance

EDGE Certification is the leading global standard for DE&I. This can be evidenced in many ways, not least in how it aligns with EU legislation such as mandated quotas and pay equity reporting. In fact, it was aligned with the EU directive around pay transparency – which requires organizations with a pay gap of more than 5% to conduct a joint pay assessment with workers’ representatives – even before it came into effect in April 2023.  

EDGE Certification is also already integrated into key indices and used by ESG and DE&I think tanks and thought leaders across the world: 

  • EDGE Certification enables compliance with 13 of the 17 ESRS S1 indicators of the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive 
  • EDGE Certification ensures compliance with the EU Directive on Pay Transparency 
  • EDGE Certification enables compliance with over 90% of the requirements of the Spanish Royal Decrees 6/2019, 901/2020 and 902/2020 on equal treatment and opportunities between women and men in employment and occupation 
  • EDGE Certification enables compliance with over 80% of the requirements of the UNI/PdR 125:2022 on gender equality 
  • EDGE Certification is one of the criteria included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 
  • EDGE Certification is an approved gender audit for the Equileap Gender Equality Scorecard™ 
  • EDGE Certified Foundation methodology powers many of the questions in the annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) that forms the foundation for the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) 
  • See our full list of strategic partners


The EDGE Gender Pay Gap Analysis Method is a scientifically rigorous and legally compliant method for assessing pay equality in Switzerland, in accordance with the Swiss Gender Equality Act (GEA). 

We’re also honoured that Billie Jean King, tennis legend and gender equality campaigner, is an EDGE Ambassador – supporting EDGE to deliver lasting change in workplace equity.  

Become EDGE Certified 

Regulatory indicators in the EU are getting more and more sophisticated, from the very quantitative to the more qualitative, from the outcomes to the processes. A holistic approach is necessary, and no matter what new regulation may be just around the corner, EDGE Certification can play a crucial role in helping organizations to stay compliant, stay committed and drive Real. World. Change. 

Want to join more than 250 organizations across 56 countries and 27 industry sectors that are already EDGE Certified? Learn how EDGE Empower, the complete DE&I software-based solution, can help you to become eligible for EDGE Certification by booking a demo, today.  

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Download PDF

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

Aniela Unguresan Speaks on Gender Pay Gap Panel at FT Women in Business Summit Europe


Aniela Unguresan, Founder, EDGE Certified Foundation, participated on a panel titled How to Tackle The Gender Pay Gap at the Financial Times’ Women in Business Summit Europe in London on Tuesday 13 June. Joining her in discussing this pressing challenge were Baroness Helena Morrissey DBE, Alesha De-Freitas and Dr Katharine D’Amico. Daniel Thomas, Global Media Editor of the Financial Times, moderated the panel.

The discussion was wide-ranging, covering issues including the difficulties women face in negotiating for better pay, the neuroscientific roots of bias and the role of compulsory reporting in laying the groundwork for change. Rather than treating the gender pay gap as an unexplainable phenomenon, they traced it back to neuroscience, linguistic styles, inherent biases present at all stages of decision making, a system that penalises motherhood but rewards fatherhood, one where women start on lower salaries and progress slower than their male colleagues, and the human condition that makes us reluctant to change. But change is possible, and it is imperative. It requires conscious effort – and it requires commitment from business leaders.

“We expect change to be incremental,” Aniela Unguresan explained. “We hope that by talking about it, making commitments to it, reporting on it, year after year things will get better naturally. Well, change is actually disruptive. And we hate disruption as human beings.”

Yet is also important to acknowledge the heartfelt, emotional nature of pay equity as a topic: “It’s probably one of the most emotional topics that I have witnessed in the corporate world. Pay is the absolute outcome indicator. It’s the absolute measurable indicator of what is going on.”

Despite this, Aniela also stressed the importance of a careful, deliberate methodology. “While it’s an emotional topic, we need to bring rigour and discipline to the conversation.” It’s about finding a balance between the emotion inherent to questions of social justice and rigorous, data-backed analysis: “Once we have the lay of land, bring the emotions in.”

Speaking on the recent EU pay transparency directive, the founder of EDGE Certified Foundation explained the role compulsory gender pay gap reporting plays in fostering transparency – pay transparency is a powerful public policy instrument. The benefits of pay transparency extend beyond judgements made by regulators, board members and shareholders, but also encompass everyday interactions at every level within the organization. “Compulsory reporting creates transparency. Without that transparency, those conversations [about pay] cannot happen very often. Especially for women, and for people who don’t have the same networks inside the organization to get this information in an informal way.”

However, pay transparency should not be seen as a cure-all solution: “Transparency makes the problem visible. But it doesn’t solve the problem,” Aniela said. “The fact that an organization is transparent internally and externally will not close the gap in and of itself.”

There needs to be a plan, with clear remediation for different issues, and a remediation budget set aside to close the gap. But first you need to understand the situation within your own organization.

The EDGE Empower software solution grants organizations the ability to analyse their unexplained gender pay gaps. Remember: unexplained does not mean unexplainable. Through sophisticated tools – including EDGE’s Pay Tool, which delivers authoritative gender pay gap analysis – leaders can uncover hidden biases and discrimination that may be at play. And through EDGE Certification, they can visibly and credibly demonstrate their commitment to DE&I.

As organizations resolve pay inequities, they will create a more sustainable business, one where the benefits of equity make a tangible difference to the balance sheet.

Learn more about our complete and integrated software-based DE&I solution by booking a demo.

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

Reputation: The Importance of Keeping Good Company!

Simona Scarpaleggia

Author: Simona Scarpaleggia

Board Member, EDGE Strategy


Reputation is defined as the opinion that people in general have about someone or something, or how much respect or admiration someone or something receives, based on past behaviour or character. On that very point, Socrates claimed: “Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibility be possessed of.”

His words still ring true today, for the importance of reputation in business has never been more critical, especially when it comes to a company’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ track record in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I). Depending on how an organization’s DE&I progress is measured, monitored, and communicated can have a direct impact on how an organization is perceived, and how it performs.

When I joined IKEA in Switzerland, while the business was considered a market leader, its brand perception was challenged. Of the three critical measures – quality, low price, and sustainability – we only rated highly on low price, and that was a risk for our brand positioning. Whereas there was an advantage in being considered affordable, it was to our detriment to be poorly thought of in terms of the quality of our product, and our commitment to sustainability and social good. So, we changed things around.

Staff engagement

The key was in engaging our staff from the beginning. We actively sought individuals and teams that better mirrored our diverse customer base. We engaged designers with broader national and cultural understanding. We conducted various initiatives that connected our brand to society at large, including providing temporary employment to refugees, many of whom were later engaged on a permanent basis, and put particular emphasis on training for both Swiss and non-Swiss employees on how to work alongside different cultures.

As part of a much wider plan, we also became EDGE Certified at Move level in 2013 and within two years had reached the Lead level – tangible proof of the steps we had taken and the progress we had made on our journey towards a better, more diverse organization. Building on the insights we gained from going through the certification process and implementing the suggested actions, we managed to increase both internal and external awareness.

Of particular importance was communicating our progress to all our stakeholders and the media, recognizing the positive impact this would have on our co-workers, the company and the business.

The perception of the business changed remarkably in the eyes of its publics and placed us in the top three organizations within the IKEA group in the scoring of the quality, low price and sustainability Index by which we were measured.

What we witnessed, and what other businesses will similarly experience if focused on the right things, is that reputation not only has a direct impact on attracting the right talent, but it also makes you a more desirable organization for people to want to work with and buy from. And this has a direct correlation with improving market share.

Proactive and consistent

Being proactive and consistent in your DE&I strategy ultimately creates a fairer organization in which people are proud to be associated and belong. It encourages other stakeholders to get closer to your brand. Having the right policies also brings about its own rewards: a 50:50 shortlist for any new hires or promotions, for example, will ultimately lead to a 50:50 pipeline of talent!

The media in Switzerland, as I am sure they are in other parts of the world, are very thorough. They do not want to get caught out or look foolish for reporting on an organization’s DE&I performance without checking the real story behind the statements. In our case, they contacted our employees, to see whether what we said in public, was consistent with how we performed in private. It’s certainly a lesson from which many others could learn, and organizations should never be blindsided by their own PR. As Professor Robert Eccles, founding chairman of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board wrote in the Harvard Business Review some years ago: “Looking at the world and one’s organization through rose-tinted spectacles is an abdication of responsibility.”

The strength of a brand can be measured in terms of how many times its customers are prepared to forgive it, should something go wrong. Recognizing that reputational risk is a category of risk, in its own right, is therefore essential. An individual or an organization with a strong reputation and proven track record may be given a second chance if accused of some misdemeanor about which they had no prior knowledge; an organization or individual with a poor reputation may find themselves hung out to dry.

Caring about your reputation is important, and so too is evidencing and communicating your actions. Over-claim, and you will surely be exposed, as recent stories of greenwashing and pinkwashing have shown. Ensuring your DE&I policies are consistent and fair, however, will reap significant rewards, financial and social.

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Download PDF

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo

Does AI Perpetuate Systemic Unconscious Bias?


Author: Aniela Unguresan

Founder, EDGE Certified Foundation


Humans are imperfect. We can strive for perfection but doing so takes conscious effort. In the context of the workplace, imperfections can lead to bias and discrimination which the removal of, no matter how it manifests itself, is neither simple nor easy and also requires conscious effort.

Some suggest that one solution is to use computers and automation to make decisions since they are unemotional and binary in their inputs and outputs – after all, they’re blind to anything other than data. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most recent development in this line of thinking as it offers, so the theory goes, an ability to learn and improve on a continuous basis.

But while AI can undoubtedly be applied and relevant in certain fields it is not necessarily best placed to make decisions regarding people, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, under specific circumstances, it can cause more harm than good.

Potential for bias

The problem was summarized recently by Agbolade Omowole, CEO of Mascot IT Nigeria, at the World Economic Forum in a report entitled Research shows AI is often biased. Here’s how to make algorithms work for all of us. He outlined, in very precise terms, how existing human bias is all too often transferred by developers to AI systems which, in turn, become fundamentally biased themselves. 

Omowole isn’t suggesting the deliberate ‘designing in’ of bias during the build process but rather that unconscious and unintended bias can seep into programming. And he offered two good examples of unintended consequences of this: one, at Amazon, where a system to review job resumes led to women being discriminated against for technical roles; and another involving San Francisco lawmakers who voted against the use of facial recognition as they believed it is prone to errors when used on women or people with dark skin. 

James Manyika, Jake Silberg, and Brittany Presten made a similar point in a paper published on the Harvard Business Review, What Do We Do About the Biases in AI? They said that human biases are well-documented and demonstrable. They also recognized that societies are starting to wrestle with just how much these biases can make their way into AI systems.

So, from a position nearly 35 years on from when the very first AI systems began to be deployed, algorithms have in recent years become considerably more complex and sophisticated. However, the same challenge exists – AI can help identify and reduce the impact of human biases, but it can also make the problem worse by ‘baking in’ and deploying biases at scale in sensitive application areas. 

AI can help identify and reduce the impact of human biases, but it can also make the problem worse by ‘baking in’ and deploying biases at scale.

It’s a matter of principle for the three authors of the paper that at a time when many companies are looking to deploy AI systems across their operations, they need to be acutely aware of those risks and work to reduce them as a priority. 

Risk of AI-enabled reproduction of existing bias

The problem of bias is very real and represents injustice against a person or a group. When it comes to AI, existing human bias can be transferred to systems because technology and software applications will only ever be as good – or as bad – as the developers behind it. This is especially so with the larger corporate developer as there may be no one in a position to offer an alternative perspective to unconscious biases that often inadvertently promote, for example, white males over others. In essence, AI systems won’t know any better and so will perpetuate any bias built into their programming. 

But there is a solution. Organizations can hire diverse people to devise correct processes which are overseen by a chief diversity officer who checks software that is in development for bias, create applications and processes that remove bias, and that will bring benefits in the future. 

But for now, we are still left with a major problem – machine learning and AI is invariably based on existing, and therefore biased, data.

Programming an AI with data based on existing trends, observations and behaviors will undoubtedly, despite the efforts of the organization, still perpetuate bias – a case of ‘garbage in, garbage out.

So, to the extent that there is already bias embedded in current data – and there will be bias because organizations generally lack the diversity of voices and talent representation within data that is used – the only work around is to seek out data sets for AI systems that is grounded on diversity and inclusion. 

To reiterate the point made earlier by Omowole, we can look at the AI-based conversational Twitter chatbot, Tay, that Microsoft released in 2016. It was supposed to interact with people through tweets and direct messages. But because it was learning from Twitter, it was replying with highly offensive and racist messages within a few hours of its release, because it could only learn from anonymous public data. This wouldn’t have happened if its core knowledge and learning was based on the principles of diversity and inclusion. 

The popular conversational AI ChatGPT, which continually learns from those using the tech, creates more subtle examples of discrimination and stereotyping. The New York Times journalist Emma Grillo wrote about her experiences with the chatbot. When she asked it whether she should wear a white dress to a wedding, it suggested that she check with the bride if this would be acceptable. Grillo notes that this would have been difficult given that at this particular wedding there was no bride – only two grooms!   

She also found that ChatGPT’s suggestions for work wear were clouded by bias. ‘A mid-thigh dress,’ it claimed, ‘may distract the interviewer’s attention.’ In a similar experiment of my own, ChatGPT proposed that a knee-length, V-neck dress might be appropriate attire for a job interview as long as it is not ‘too revealing’ and that a blazer or cardigan could be worn to cover my shoulders. 

What AI systems ‘know’ is wrong

Interested in learning more about the biases inherent within AI, I asked ChatGPT to list the top three soft skills that a woman should practice if she wants to become a senior leader in the technology sector. The chatbot suggested collaboration and innovation, but also put forward technical acumen:

‘While soft skills are essential for success in any leadership role, women in the technology sector may also need to demonstrate a strong understanding of technical concepts and processes to be effective leaders.’ 

How about for a man? ChatGPT responded with adaptability, communication and collaboration.  

Giving ChatGPT the benefit of the doubt, I asked it to regenerate the response three further times. The only new suggestion was strategic thinking. It appears that for a man working in tech, the AI assumes they will have mastered technical acumen without any prompting – for a woman though, it’s time to upskill (apparently). 

It appears that for a man working in tech, the AI assumes they will have mastered technical acumen without any prompting – for a woman though, it’s time to up-skill (apparently).

It could be argued that ChatGPT is simply reflecting back the biases that already exist – but with AI becoming more dominant in modern society, we should surely be creating technologies to challenge these biases instead of finding new ways to preserve them? 

Similar scenarios can happen with HR systems where patterns of bias and discrimination are embedded into operational data. Systems may think – and determine – that women should only ever be employed as secretaries or work in HR functions, because that is what the bias data will have them believe. The same system may consider men as destined to become highly paid CEOs. 

Fundamentally, algorithms in AI systems will only ever replicate what they ‘know’. A compromised system that considers comments from employee surveys, trends relating to promotion, race and recruitment will only ever reinforce the status quo. 

Conscious meets unconscious bias

As the DE&I agenda continues to gain momentum, AI technologies are undoubtedly learning about the dangers of allowing biases to remain unchecked. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough  – just as it isn’t enough for organizations to resolve the myriad issues around inequity and lack of diversity by simply ‘knowing’ that they exist. How can we expect biases to disappear without proactive strategies to tackle them? Consciousness doesn’t equal change.  

For example, when asked what HR issues a woman should be aware of when joining a small engineering team, ChatGPT suggested that ‘women in male-dominated fields like engineering can sometimes face bias and stereotyping from their colleagues.’  

Despite not being informed of the gender of the other team members, the bot ‘assumed’ that the rest of the team would be male. Based on historical data, you could argue that this is a logical assumption. But without challenging the inequities that have resulted in this data set, the chatbot is reinforcing them as ‘the norm’.

When I confronted ChatGPT about the assumption, it apologized. Rather than implying anything about the gender of the people being referred to, it said that it uses the pronoun ‘he’ for ‘simplicity and brevity’ – an unconvincing justification for the use of uninclusive language. It went on to state:  

‘It is important to be mindful of the diversity and inclusivity of all team members, regardless of gender, race, or any other factors.’ 

It is clear that ChatGPT is conscious that biases exist and yet by using men as the default gender, it perpetuates them. And in doing so, biases remain – in many cases – unconscious.

Opt for reliability

Of course, none of this is about denying the potential for AI systems, but they can exhibit limitations if only biased data is fed into them.  

However, there are pockets of reliable data, such as data held by EDGE on EDGE Lead certified organizations that can safely and reliably be used to train AI-based diversity and inclusion solutions. This is because the organization will have been independently verified and the data it generates will be as close as it can be to being unbiased.  

And while the quality of data that can be trusted is difficult to find outside of independently verified certification systems that uphold the highest standards in diversity, equity and inclusion, we are seeing that the pool of EDGE Lead Certified organizations is growing. This means that the pool of data that can be trusted is similarly growing and becoming more widely available. 

In summary

AI systems do have a place within organizations, and they certainly have role in running equity processes. But organizations need to be alive to biases held by software developers and also, the potential for inherent bias of the data used in processes. This will make the difference between AI reinforcing the bias in a process, or effectively ‘de-biasing’ them.  

De-bias your DE&I data

At EDGE Empower, utilizing technology to harness your DE&I data is a central part of our methodology. However, we understand that technology alone isn’t enough: you need proper safeguards to secure the maximum benefit to your workplace DE&I performance.  

To learn more about how the EDGE Empower software solution maintains a disciplined and rigorous approach to DE&I, book a demo today. 

Book a demo

Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.

Download PDF

Book a demo

Do you have questions about our product or pricing?

Simply fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will be in touch shortly.

Book a demo