July 26, 2021
While improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) has always been a goal for most HR managers, the events that erupted in 2020 called attention to the need for change in the workplace. Following the unending tragedies of racial injustice in America, now, more than ever, it is crucial for organizations to raise awareness and take the right steps toward achieving this. DE&I has become a mission-critical piece of any organization’s culture, HR policies, and efforts into modernizing the workplace. To learn more on how to create successful DE&I strategies, read on.
Let’s take a look at the key definitions of each of these terms:
Diversity – The presence of differences within a given setting
In a workplace, these could relate to race, gender, gender identity, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, physical ability, experience, or knowledge. It is a relational concept and shows up in the composition of teams and organizations. This does not refer to a person being diverse, but rather the company and its teams – it is about the “differences” between people within an ecosystem. Diversity is a much deeper concept than perceived and requires individuals to recognize that people are not a set of attributes and that everyone is unique in their own ways.
Equity – Promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness within any procedure, process, or distribution of resources by an organization or institution
Equity recognizes the differences within individuals and considers the needs of all while rebalancing structures and policies to account for disadvantages faced by minority groups – with an ultimate goal of creating fair access and advancement for all. A deep and clear understanding of the root causes of the disparity within a closed space is needed to truly remove equity issues.
One of the points of confusion when discussing equity is the term “equality,” which means that each individual or group of people are given the same resources and opportunities and assumed to take advantage of those. Equity recognizes the difference of circumstances, abilities, and opportunities, and helps an individual rise above this, and further allocates resources to help them reach an equal outcome.
Inclusion – An outcome to ensure those that are diverse feel and are welcomed, are given a voice and have a say
To an outsider looking in at the process, it may often seem as though an individual in an environment that respects diversity and follows equity is set up to feel included – but this is a misconception. These outcomes are only met when a team and/or company is truly inviting to all. It is a measure of how well individuals can participate and voice their opinions openly without being suppressed in the decision-making processes within an organization or group. It is essential to understand what can be done to make everyone feel valued and strive to design-related policies, processes, physical spaces, and products to feel included.
While diversity and inclusion are outcomes, equity is a process and is responsible for upholding the beliefs of diversity- and inclusion-related goals and actions.
Efforts and approach
DE&I often comes up in Everest Group’s discussions with clients on both sides. Enterprises are increasingly interested in improving DE&I practices within their firm. Several providers are also talking about how they are lending their expertise in this area through training, coaching, and leveraging technology to ensure they prevent implicit and explicit bias in the workplace.
Among the key reasons for enterprises to focus on DE&I initiatives are:
- Larger talent pool: Enterprises driven to hire a variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds can access a wider and under-tapped talent pools
- Higher employee engagement: DE&I plays a significant role in ensuring employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. Losing any of these three could hamper the business outcome of the company
- Stronger company culture: Engaging with people who have different experiences makes everyone at the firm feel positive about their workplace and creates a sense of greater belonging
- Greater innovation and creativity: Bringing together people from varied backgrounds promotes more product and service innovation delivered by a company, reinforcing the critical nature of DE&I
- Better customer alignment: Marketing efforts that reflect the diverse backgrounds of the company’s workforce will help the business build deeper connections with customers and better understand their needs
- Stronger employer branding: With the competitive talent market, it has become essential for enterprises to look at ways to improve DE&I to attract and retain top talent
How organizations are using DE&I tools
While enterprises have some DE&I policies in place, it is important to take a more comprehensive approach to ensure these practices exist in the whole hire to retire sphere. To achieve this, vendors in the talent sourcing, management, and engagement space are developing use cases with DE&I as an underlying concept within the existing solutions.
The below exhibits showcases some of these use cases:
- Assisting enterprises to develop DE&I supporting job descriptions
- Partnering with diversity groups to build diverse talent pipelines/pools
- Leveraging third-party tools such as blind recruitment software (integrated with CRM/ATS software) to anonymize applications and résumés to ensure an unbiased selection process, based only on the candidate’s experience and skills
- Collecting internal data and developing dashboards to show diversity data in each step of recruitment. Accessing external data to show the talent supply-demand for diverse candidates in any region and their skills
- Offering consulting and advisory to help enterprises reduce bias from their recruitment process by reprocessing. Conducting training for hiring managers and a diversity assessment of the current organization, followed with recommendations on improvements
- Building dashboards and using salary benchmarking to understand compensation offered, compare pay equity between different groups of employees, and identify any disparity
- Harnessing the power of chatbots and analytics, several employee engagement surveys and feedback tools help HR personnel understand the employee sentiments through active listening and deliver actionable insights to them to improve structural imbalances
- Leveraging tools such as AI and ML to highlight and prevent any instances of unconscious bias, along with tracking such instances to further offer microlearning courses to the user. The ML model continues to learn through multiple instances and continuously improves the set of suggestions for the end-user
- Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistant to present DE&I situations to employees for more proactive learning
- Tracking key diversity metrics to help enterprises in succession planning, employee development, and performance management
Vision for the future
DE&I in the workplace is an essential business practice that high-performing firms prioritize as crucial to building environments that help their incredible workforce thrive. It is on top of mind these days and will only grow in importance as companies continue to invest in their DE&I programs. Making meaningful efforts can truly benefit a firm’s growth.
To realize the full advantages of a DE&I program, enterprises need to clearly define their vision toward DE&I, develop strategic plans and a formalized framework, measure key metrics tracking the impact of the program developed based on employee feedback, and continue to improve.
How robust is your organization’s DE&I strategy? Share your thoughts with Rachita Mehrishi.