With the impacts of the pandemic and rising attention to race and gender-based issues, employees are seeking companies that demonstrate commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Building a workforce characterized by DEI has delivered vital benefits to businesses. Yet, many companies are struggling to push DEI efforts. Let’s dive into how DEI considerations can be embedded to build and maintain diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
What is DEI?
Let’s first understand what DEI is. Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. Equity ensures everyone has access to the same treatment, opportunities, and advancement. Inclusion refers to how people with different identities feel part of the larger group. In short, DEI is not just about balancing males and females and different ethnicities. Diversity alone cannot guarantee one’s sense of belonging (inclusion) and experience of fairness (equity). DEI is recognizing the value and variety of views that are not simply based on appearance or group affiliation.
Below are five recommended practices for implementing, improving, and sustaining DEI efforts as we move to 2022.
1. Committing to moving from ‘culture fit’ to ‘culture add’
DEI is about companies creating a workforce that brings new and diverse voices instead of a workforce that might be diverse but conformed to an existing corporate culture. DEI requires a multidimensional framework, where companies track talented, diverse employees and ensure opportunities for these workers to advance at an equal pace as their peers. A genuine commitment to DEI work requires patience, courage, and a willingness to listen and respond.
2. Updating hiring practices
DEI starts with reviewing all aspects of HR affecting diversity, from recruitment to pay scale to career mobility and financial wellness benefits. Taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data-informed decision-making approaches to hiring process, diversifying the hiring committee, trying blind auditions to avoid hiring biases, evaluating job descriptions, and eliminating the practice of promoting inflated qualifications on hard skills in job descriptions are some of the ways to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.
3. Collaborating with DEI experts
Until recently, diversity was considered a subset of HR. The result is that generations of HR professionals have built their careers with little or no formal knowledge, training, or experience in DEI. HR must recognize when to collaborate with DEI experts for training and consultation. Instead of offering companywide mandatory generic DEI training, offer more specific or intense training in partnership with DEI experts.
4. Making inclusive behaviors part of company values
DEI encourages companies to create inclusive practices such as mentoring new employees, seeking their insight, and learning about diverse backgrounds. Creating safe platforms, such as listening circles and connecting empathetically with employees, ensure that companies have the right voices on the team. When every team member feels valued, supported, and heard, they bring their whole self to work.
5. Measuring DEI efforts
While DEI metrics might not tell the whole story, companies should take them as a tool to measure DEI efforts. Some of the recommended DEI metrics are:
- What are the overall demographics of your current workforce (including C-suites, hiring managers, and board members)?
- Who are the candidates in the hiring pipeline, and who is being recruited?
- Are employees from specific backgrounds leaving at a higher rate than others?
- Are there a lot of demographic similarities between the employees who get promoted?
- Are there any pay gaps in underrepresented groups?
- Are employees of all groups and backgrounds taking advantage of learning and development opportunities?
Simply put, reinforcing robust DEI programs provides a sense of belonging to every employee, resulting in higher engagement, productivity, and innovation. With the significant changes and upheavals in recent years, more DEI trends will come in 2022. Companies adapting to these DEI trends to build a more robust culture and a well-running workforce will outperform, outlast, and outgrow their competition as we move to 2022 and beyond.