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Case study

IKEA U.S. takes equity, diversity and inclusion to the next level

Furniture retailer builds ambitious new strategies into its business plan.


Call for change

A responsibility to build a better society

For many years, the world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA, has prioritized efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I). For example, the company has partnered with social entrepreneurs, creating thousands of jobs for under-represented groups around the world, including a project with Syrian refugees to develop textile products for sale in IKEA stores. Additionally, through employee development and human resources programs across the globe, IKEA has successfully increased the percentage of women in leadership positions, reaching 50% in 2020.

Even with its existing achievements in ED&I, IKEA wanted to do more.

IKEA U.S. asked Accenture to help assess its current state of ED&I, define an ED&I vision, and develop a comprehensive plan to accelerate gains in this area. The aim was to implement an effective approach that the company could replicate in other countries. IKEA U.S. was particularly interested in setting and pursuing race and ethnicity goals as well as increasing the diversity of its leadership.

With increasing inequality due to climate change and other global challenges, we recognized that we have a responsibility to help build a society that provides equal opportunities for all.

STEPHANI “STEVIE” LEWIS / Chief Diversity Officer, IKEA U.S.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Improving maturity in ED&I

We used our maturity model to characterize the current state of ED&I at IKEA U.S. This model measures the extent to which ED&I is embedded in a company in specific areas and identifies opportunities for improvement.

The team inputted the results of several activities into the model:

  • Interviews with IKEA U.S. departments: For instance, interviews with communications staff focused on understanding how ED&I values are embedded into the communication strategy.
  • A survey of executives at IKEA U.S. gathering insights into the current state of ED&I and their aspirations for the company.
  • Focus groups with IKEA U.S. co-workers to explore their experiences working at IKEA and gather their perspectives on the company’s ED&I maturity.

Using the model’s results and additional research on ED&I at eight other retailers, Accenture compared the ED&I maturity of IKEA U.S. with that group. We also compared human resources data for IKEA U.S. employees with U.S. Census data in various geographic areas, revealing the diversity gap between IKEA and local Census populations.

A valuable difference

A roadmap for greater equality

We presented the results from our maturity assessment in a facilitated workshop with the IKEA U.S. ED&I staff and leadership team. The participants translated the results into a vision to guide action and several ED&I strategies, such as increasing underrepresented groups at all levels of the organization. They also developed 30 recommendations to be integrated into the 2023 business plan for IKEA U.S., such as determining ED&I performance indicators.

Since Accenture completed the project, the ED&I team has asked leaders at each U.S. store to implement ED&I initiatives that support the new vision and strategies while serving specific store needs. These include an Equity Council, an accountability group led by CEO Javier Quiñones, and a pilot program to support diverse talent with leadership training and mentorship. IKEA U.S. has also built a dashboard that tracks ED&I indicators at stores, allowing for progress reports to be shared with executives.

“We now have the data and the tools to take ED&I to the next level,” said Lewis.