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3 Questions Every Business Should Ask to Advance its DEIB Efforts

Jun 29, 2022| Reading time: 10min

BY Kerrel Brown

Senior Marketing Manager

“There’s a lot of companies prioritizing DEIB” says Ai-Mei Zhu, co-leader of ChartHop’s Asian Alliance Employee Resource Group (ERG). “So how do you know who’s serious about it?”

The answer is this: Those that take diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously are the ones that do their research, analyze their people data, and continuously ask questions to modify and advance their efforts.

The latter – the desire for constant improvement – is what separates great leaders from the rest.

Ready to advance your DEIB efforts? Below are three questions you should ask in order to prioritize or improve your initiatives.

1. What Environment Are We Creating?

The 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics Report released that the entire US workforce is 77% white, and white workers are significantly more likely to hold managerial positions than Black and Hispanic employees. It’s also worse at the top: 93% of CEOs in the Fortune 500 are white, and two-thirds of C-suite executives are white men.

The silver-lining to this data exposure is accountability: Companies need to create healthier workplace environments to advance their DEIB efforts. In fact, employees now expect diversity and belonging initiatives and may walk if they don’t witness it as a company priority.

Barry Marshall, CEO and founding partner of P5 Collaborative Consulting, recognizes retention issues – particularly among those that identify as underrepresented talent – if DEIB policies are lacking. “Diverse talent is going to walk if there’s not inclusive awareness,” he explains.

Ultimately, there’s two types of environment to consider: the physical and the psychological.

The Physical Environment

There are numerous positives to working in an office environment, including better work-life balance and the potential for stronger relationships. Unfortunately, disproportionate stressors are present in the office as well. Marshall explains that “non-meeting environments are where a lot of microaggressions take place,” so it’s best to consider your in-office, hybrid, and remote practices to ensure you’re creating an environment people want to join.

Many remote companies, who can now hire beyond their local community, have therefore stepped up their game to focus on recruiting those that identify as underrepresented talent. However, Ivori Johnson, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at ChartHop, warns that returning to office will lead to a reduction in diverse workforces. She explains, “People don’t want to relocate to a place where they don’t have a community and feel like an imposter due to lack of representation. People want that personal community.”

Ultimately, your physical environment – whether it’s in-person, hybrid, or remote – should promote inclusivity, and you’ll want to pinpoint issues and risks by tapping into the expertise of your DEIB team.

The Psychological Environment

In addition to considering the physical environment, you also want to consider your psychological one.

HBR reports, “People with underrepresented identities continue to experience higher rates of stress, exhaustion, and burnout. This is due to a number of factors, including the many impacts of bias, microaggression, and marginalization at work.”

Think: Are there any attitudes that harm your workplace environment and employee productivity? How are you making room for underrepresented talent so there’s no biases holding them back?

To help ensure psychological safety, you’ll want to tap into the expertise of your DEIB team and analyze your people data. Johnson notes, “When you can view all your people data in one place, you can better understand strengths and areas for improvement when it comes to aspects like performance management, compensation, representation, and attrition by different diversity metrics, which will all lead to a more equitable and safe workplace.”

2. Are Our Hiring Practices Fair and Equitable?

During the interview process, it’s common to make small talk about interests, hobbies, and everyday life. However, Melissa Adamo, Principal Technical Talent Partner at ChartHop, warns that while these connections are nice, they can unintentionally lead to biases. “When the conversation moves further and further away from the actual role, you inadvertently begin making opinions of them as a person, instead of if they have the appropriate skills to succeed in the position.”

It’s therefore important to structure your recruitment process to focus on what matters most: that they’re qualified for the role. Below are suggestions on how to shift to more equitable hiring practices:

  • Create inclusive job descriptions. Job descriptions that include inclusive language not only attract more applicants and signal your commitment to diversity, but also help prevent marginalization in your growing workforce.
  • Remove identifying questions from your application. ALOK, a gender non-conforming writer and performance artist, believes removing gender from applications is a critical step in eliminating discrimination. This decision keeps the focus on skills-based evidence to prove or disprove fit.
  • Consider skills, not years experience. “On average, those who identify as underrepresented talent have less years of qualification due to systemic discrimination,” ALOK reports. It’s therefore best practice to ask questions regarding skills and professional development opportunities to better determine competence and willingness to learn.

However, attracting candidates with various backgrounds and identities shouldn’t be the only DEIB focus. Johnson suggests, “Companies that want to attract and retain talent should make sure their values, benefits, and company culture are aligned to the needs and wants of your employees, and are inclusive to all people.”

3. What Resources Do Our ERGs Need to Be Successful?

Dedicated DEIB teams are incredibly important to an organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Instead of putting initiatives on the backburner when work gets busy, an established team helps make DEIB a business-wide priority while continuing to drive action.

That being said, employees may need additional support from a community that shares their background or identity, such as gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or veteran status. Luckily, ERGs are a way to satisfy this employee need and help ensure a culture of inclusion.

Below are four ways you can help your ERGs be even more successful and create a positive employee experience.

  • Establish leadership support. DEIB should be a top-down initiative, and leaders need to engage with ERGs and their work to truly support their efforts. Additionally, Johnson notes that C-suites should represent the diversity they’re trying to promote. She says, “Many companies lean into the DEIB space by hiring at entry level positions for representation, but fail to do the same at C-suite, leadership, and management levels.”
  • Pay ERG leaders for their work. “If you’re leaning on people to do this work, you’re asking them to shift work-life balance,” Johnson says. Therefore, make sure you’re compensating your ERG leads for the work they are doing through bonuses, extra base pay, and tying DEIB goals to performance goals.
  • Create KPIs. Zhu believes specific goals are incredibly important to help drive action. “When we created our ERG, we knew we didn’t want to be a group that just talked and didn’t do anything,” she explains. “We made goals that are measurable so we can look back a year later and see our impact.”
  • Document ERG efforts for promotions and raises. “If you’re compensating ERG leaders for their work, you can tie it to their performance,” Johnson explains. This will help demonstrate their all-around contribution to your company and workplace culture.

Continue Improving Your DEIB Strategy

Successful leaders don’t put their operations first; they put their people first. And when people feel supported and respected, they’re more likely to be motivated, engaged, and interested in their work. But simply establishing DEIB initiatives – without revisiting them – isn’t prioritizing your employees. It’s checking the box and moving on.

Your DEIB strategy needs constant analysis to ensure that your efforts are meaningful, impactful, and improving the employee experience. And when you focus on that, you will see benefits at the individual, team, and company levels.

Embedding DEIB into company culture is critical to support employee well-being. Learn how four HR leaders started their DEIB initiatives and worked toward making them impactful.

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