October 25, 2012 – Diversity and inclusion remain much more an ideal than a reality, according to a global study released by executive search firm Egon Zehnder International. Study participants were almost unanimously committed to diversity and inclusion with 96 percent stating that working in a diverse and inclusive environment is personally important to them. Nearly all executives surveyed believe there is a strong business case for diverse and inclusive organizations, with North Americans, Australians, and women ranking the highest. However, fewer than one third of the participating executives believe their companies have made good progress in promoting diversity and inclusion relative to ethnicity, age, people with disabilities, or sexual orientation. Slightly more than half (53 percent) said their company is making real progress in gender diversity. Similarly, less than half of respondents reported good progress in promoting diversity of perspectives and thinking, nationality, industry backgrounds, or educational backgrounds. “Our study shows that leaders clearly understand that diversity and inclusion is not a necessary duty that should be driven by compliance and number-oriented strategies, but instead leverages their companies to perform at much higher levels,” said Damien O'Brien, CEO and chairman of Egon Zehnder. “The key to real progress on the diversity front will be significantly embedding the diversity charter into the company’s DNA.” More than 500 executives from around the world participated in the study.