Don’t You Want Me? The Human (Capital) League Expands its Search for Hiring, Turnover and Promotion Data

The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?” was a global hit in 1982, and the first number one for a fledgling record label, run by a guy named Richard Branson.  

This week our minds briefly turned to Richard Branson, a legendary futurist who has consistently been able to innovate and capitalize on the next big thing – be it records, soft drinks, cell phones, or most recently, space travel. Sir Richard’s trend-spotting ability got us thinking about the future of public company HCM data, a field that is very much in its infancy. With that in mind, over the next few weeks we’re going to look at some of the emerging data points that may be driving engagement, stewardship, and investment decisions in the latter half of the decade. 

Our quick take – the next frontier, or at least one part of it, will involve more robust hiring, turnover, and promotion disclosures.

One advocate that has been pushing for this type of information is As You Sow. Over the past two years, the corporate social responsibility juggernaut has filed 45 shareholder proposals seeking this data, including at Albertsons, Ford, eBay, Honeywell, and Simon Property Group. Of those resolutions, 29 (64%) have been withdrawn with a commitment from the company to release the data in the future (see As You Sow’s full resolution tracker here).

With that in mind, we’re seeing a lot of movement here, as a host of S&P 500 companies, including Adobe, American Express, Boeing, Kellogg, Lockheed Martin, Dow, and HP, have begun to report this type of data over the past three years. While the breadth and specificity of hiring, turnover, and promotion disclosures are still evolving, we consider a company partially disclosed if they report data:

  • for less than 70 percent of their employee population
  • for the U.S. only, if more than 30 percent of their employees are global
  • for salaried employees, or some other subset of employees only, or
  • for women, but not men or minorities.

We briefly sifted through our database of S&P 500 hiring, turnover and promotion disclosures and uncovered the following: 

  • In their latest reporting, 289 companies met our standards for the full disclosure of overall or voluntary employee turnover data. That’s nearly double what we saw in 2019, when only 154 companies disclosed either metric. And in case you’re wondering, only 122 companies went so far as to publish both overall and voluntary departures. 

  • That said, far less (117), break down turnover data by gender. 

  • And even fewer companies – only five percent of the S&P 500 – report either type of turnover data by race and ethnicity. This highly select group of 25 companies includes Hershey, GM, Whirlpool, Alphabet (Google), Expedia and Microsoft. Also worth noting, only two companies report both metrics broken down by race and ethnicity – Dow, and Dominion Energy. 

  • One company that has consistently published turnover data is Hasbro, which adapted to the pandemic by reducing its reliance on manufacturing in China. In 2021, Hasbro saw a six percent jump in voluntary turnover, its highest level since 2017. That’s notable, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find interesting data from Hasbro’s operations in Mexico. There, the company has nearly tripled its workforce since 2019, but an extremely high 40 percent of those employees have voluntarily left in each of the past two years. Why is this important? Mexico is one of the three countries where Hasbro is ramping up production of its toys and games. 

  • We’re also seeing an approximate 50 percent annual rise in the number of companies that report hiring data. In their latest reporting, 192 companies fully disclosed this information. That compares to 150 in the year prior, and 107 two years prior. 

  • Finally, an emerging group of companies are publishing promotion rate data, often with a gender lens. Fifty-seven companies, including Tesla, Boeing, Autozone, US Bancorp, ConocoPhillips and American Water Works, disclosed gender-based promotion rates in their latest disclosure. That’s nearly triple the number of companies that did so two years prior (27).  

  • Another company that publishes promotions by gender is General Motors, which has been adding women to its workforce more frequently under CEO Mary Barra. As part of its commitment to gender diversity, GM has added thousands of women to its ranks, going from 18 percent of its total employees in 2016, to 23.3 percent in 2021. This commitment can also be seen it its promotions – in 2021, nearly 30 percent of GM’s promotions were given to women.

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