Diversity, equity and inclusion is not a tick-box exercise
- 4 Min Read
DEI is not a tick-box exercise, it’s a culture, a vision, and a way of life for thriving organizations.
“To go for growth and build a higher-wage economy we will need to ease shortages to create the conditions for higher investment,” commented Matthew Percival, CBI Director for Skills & Inclusion, last month. Percival continued to talk about the need to overcome barriers in the workplace, such as a lack of affordable childcare, while also “taking a pragmatic approach to immigration.”
The point is that to overcome skills gaps and retain key employees, businesses need to re-evaluate their recruitment and talent management strategies, to meet the challenges of today’s volatile economies. This means understanding and engaging with employees more and creating cultures that recognize and celebrate their needs and values. It also means promoting a working environment that is both attractive and open to all potential candidates.
Why is this important? We know all employees want their contributions to be recognized and their role in the organization valued and respected. We also know that to attract younger talent, organizations need to be able to show they are engaging and inclusive, as a report from global employment firm Monster found, with 83% of Gen Z candidates saying a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer.
This is the point of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, to embrace the positive impacts of all employees, or potential employees, for the benefit of the organization. It is recognizing that people are at the heart of any organization and for organizations to succeed and grow, they need to attract and look after, a diverse group of people.
This doesn’t happen overnight. Diversity requires ownership and accountability within the organization and within leadership. Talking about DEI doesn’t progress it or create change. Organizations need to be encouraged, to build ownership and accountability and observe real change.
So, how do you affect positive change?
Here I have outlined five tactics designed to help organizations drive DEI forward, not for the sake of compliance but for the sake of organizational culture and attracting and retaining talent.
1. Hold leadership accountable for attracting, retaining and growing the careers of diverse talent.
This could also mean adding a financial component or incentive to rewards packages, for positive, incremental change. Interestingly, according to McKinsey research, women leaders are leaving their jobs at the highest rate consultants have ever seen. One of the key reasons is that “it’s increasingly important to women leaders that they work for companies that prioritize flexibility, employee well-being, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.” If they don’t have it, they will move to a company that does.
2. Implement operational processes that identify and rotate diverse talent into enterprise-wide initiatives.
This means using senior leadership, a business transformation office and so on, to root out bias and support the development and visibility of diverse talent across the organization. It’s about taking ownership, not ticking boxes, and supporting managers to empower diverse talent.
3. Recognise non-promotable tasks and rotate those among team members.
This means not allowing the same person (usually women) to get stuck with behind-the-scenes tasks that provide no real visibility into a person’s true potential and are very seldom taken into consideration during performance reviews (beyond a “thanks for all that you do”).
4. Stop communicating a gender-diverse promotion as a major headline.
By this I mean make the announcement gender-less and focus on accomplishments rather than personality traits.
5. Use an evidence-based approach to developing DEI and talent acquisition strategies.
As the CIPD suggests, “representative workforce data is a crucial component in making more informed people management decisions. The more –and better-quality –people data employers collect, the better they can design and target DEI activity and evaluate progress.”
As Accenture recently found, “a ten percent improvement in workplace culture is associated with a ten percent increase in innovation mindset,” but while this is undoubtedly welcome, the real value of DEI is in talent attraction and retention. DEI does not need to be measured in terms of compliance.
Organizations that have DEI strategies for this reason alone are missing the point. DEI is not a tick-box exercise, it’s a culture, a vision, a way of life for thriving organizations. The sooner organizations realize that and take ownership of it, the sooner they will reap the rewards.
Sophie Ames is Chief Human Resources Officer for ServiceMax.