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TM Forum unveils world’s first industry-agreed score for diversity and inclusion to help win ‘war on talent’

More than 11,000 professionals and 180,000 data points help to establish first industry-agreed score to measure inclusion at every level of an organisation, in bid to cultivate innovation and encourage growth

TM Forum, the industry association driving digital transformation through collaboration, today unveils the launch of the world’s first comprehensive score aimed at improving company and industry-wide diversity and inclusion. The Inclusion and Diversity Score (IDS) is a multi-dimensional benchmarking tool co-created by TM Forum members to help digital service businesses win the ‘war on talent’ by retaining, nurturing and improving both talent and culture through greater diversity and inclusion.

In addition to providing a clear and benchmark-ready score – a single metric measuring both diversity and inclusion – the IDS methodology uses machine learning-based sentiment analysis to provide unique insights on factors affecting a sense of inclusion. For Diversity, the score measures how a company’s leadership compares to the diversity of the environment they operate in across a set of self-reported demographics including gender, LGBTQ+ and ethnic or racial diversity.

IDS was pioneered by TM Forum’s Inclusion and Diversity Council, chaired and led by CEO of Colt Technology Services Keri Gilder, and piloted by 15 companies, including Bain, BT, Colt, CSGI, Delta Partners, Infosys and Telia, who have participated in beta trials over the past eight months to define and refine the score, data collection and analysis methodology, while ensuring employee anonymity and data privacy.

“We know that our industry can do so much more when it comes to inclusion and diversity, and the results of the IDS score show how serious the challenge is. Individual companies can’t solve the issue alone, and as a sector, we need to be more attractive to the leading talent that will power us through our next phase of innovation and transformation”, said Keri Gilder, CEO, Colt Technology Services.

A sense of feeling included – defined by the IDS as a sense of belonging; of being treated fairly; of having an equal opportunity to succeed and being your whole self at work – has been shown through research by Bain & Company to positively correlate to employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), well established as a key performance indicator for employee retention and engagement.

“The successful completion of the beta trials shows that the industry can adopt the score, and we can set a baseline and benchmark, which is essential to closing the knowledge to action gap around inclusion and diversity. I wholeheartedly encourage all leaders to join the IDS; to unite and make real and lasting change. Because together, we can create an inclusive environment and enable businesses, individuals and our industry to thrive.” added Gilder.

Insights discovered during the trials include the impact of affinity groups on a sense of inclusion, while interestingly, native language played a significant role in bolstering inclusivity—with participants identifying perceived language barriers between themselves and their corporate HQ as problematic.

Danielle Stekelenburg, a partner in Bain & Company’s Performance Improvement and Communications, Media & Entertainment practices, a key leader in development of the Inclusion and Diversity Score (IDS) explained: “Through our research, we were able to identify a set of common factors that impact a feeling of inclusion and explore the effects of various interventions. One factor that stood out as pain point for people not feeling included was ‘language’ – and this was acted on immediately. Language-based interventions included changing the language of job adverts, distributing CEO updates in local language and a partnership with Duolingo to offer free, mobile first language classes. Early indications show that these steps had a positive impact and these, along with a range of interventions, can be shared to provide an evidence-based solutions for businesses facing the same challenges. It’s great to see the real impact that IDS driving already.”

Having identified common pain points, companies engaged in the pilot are now co-creating a set of best practices and interventions to help each other take positive overcome the challenges IDS identifies.

Nik Willetts, CEO, TM Forum commented “Our industry is at a pivotal moment in its quest for growth, and recruiting, retraining and reskilling the right talent is now a critical issue for most companies. Despite clear evidence of the business benefits of building diverse, inclusive teams, as an industry our progress remains painfully slow. IDS is the first industry-agreed score of its kind to make it easier to measure, diagnose and benchmark these complex issues. By doing so, we hope to drive real change for the industry. Sincere thanks to all the companies and professionals who have participated so far, and in particular the instrumental leadership of Colt and Bain.”

With IDS pilot phase complete, scaling is key and TM Forum openly invites companies operating in the TMT sector to participate in the initiative. Widespread participation will enhance the benchmarking capacity the tool offers and enable continued collaboration to provide real answers to the challenges of recruitment, retention, and reskilling. Submissions of interest can be made at

Beyond the IDS, TM Forum members are now starting to collaborate on a broader set of talent challenges, including: how to attract new talent to the industry; best practices for reskilling; and a diagnostic tool to help CEOs and leadership teams understand their own transformation needs.  Beyond the IDS, TM Forum members are now collaborating on a broader set of talent challenges, including how to attract new talent to the industry; best practices for reskilling; and a leadership diagnostic tool to help CEOs and leadership teams understand their own transformation needs. The diagnostic tool, which will be piloted in the coming months, has been created with Russell Reynolds Associates, building on the already well-established TM Forum Digital Maturity Model and Russell Reynolds proven methodologies for leadership development.

About TM Forum

TM Forum is an association of member companies, which include 10 of the world’s top 10 network and communications providers and stretch across 180 countries. Our members tap into each other’s collective experiences and abilities to collaboratively solve complex industry-wide challenges, deploy new services, and create technology breakthroughs to accelerate change.

We help communications service providers (CSPs) and their suppliers to digitally transform and thrive in the digital era. We do this by providing an open, collaborative environment and practical support which enables CSPs and suppliers to rapidly transform their business operations, IT systems and ecosystems to capitalize on the opportunities presented in a rapidly evolving digital world. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  Learn more at