“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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