A business and moral imperative, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is among the top priorities of HR leaders. Many companies have successfully increased representation in their workforce. They face bigger challenges when it comes to the equity and inclusion pieces of this puzzle.
In addition, many diversity experts worry that as activism waxes and wanes so could people’s attention on DEI. They also want to ensure that business leaders remain committed and take action rather than just speaking about talking points.
“I think it’s great that organizations are making DEI a priority. Okay, great, we have your attention. Now, invest in those strategies and initiatives,” says Nichelle Grant, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Siemens US. “It takes all of us across the organization to make DEI impactful.”
There are a number of common DEI practices that companies utilize to get the greater team involved or ensure they are making progress. Here is a list of them:
Unconscious Bias Training
Unconscious bias training is meant to help people recognize and understand the biases they hold that lead them to make snap judgments about people based on their race, religion, gender, etc. Experts often disagree about whether this is an effective tool in the DEI toolbox. Some argue that this kind of training makes people think that bias is unavoidable. Others believe that it allows people to manage their biases and change behaviors. Harvard Business Review says for training to be effective it has to icnlude a chance to practice new behaviors and track progress. Regardless of these different stances, many organizations provide unconscious bias training.
People analytics that are visible on metrics dashboards can be useful to HR leaders trying to assess and track progress of DEI efforts. Some of the data points that are relevant include demographics across the organization, rention, candidate demographics, and more. For example, HR leaders might take a look at retention and employee turnover based on gender, age, or race. They may study data points related to participation employee resource groups (ERGs). A diversity expert might also want to track interest in a DEI initiative she has taken recently.
Bringing in speakers to talk to workers about their firsthand experience can be an effective way to raise awareness and teach lessons. Storytelling can be powerful. These kinds of sessions usually allow people the opportunity to engage by asking questions or sharing personal anecdotes of their own.
Pay Equity Audits
The gender pay gap remains a big problem. Women earn 84% of what men earn. Knowing this, many diversity experts within organizations conduct pay equity audits. Conducting such an audit means employers are serious about determining whether disparities exist. This audit can be confined to a single department or it can be company-wide. The experts will sift through the data to see if there are patterns of people being underpaid or overpaid or if there are signs of fairness or unfairness in the pay structure.
Employee Resource Groups
ERGs are a popular way to help employees find colleagues with similar interests or concerns. Often the members of these groups support each other and help develop that sense of inclusion and belonging in the workplace. ERGs that focus on DEI can also help drive the creation of policies and initiatives that transform the culture and educate employees.
In addition to building relationships among employees, HR leaders also reach out to organizations that can help them tap into more diverse pipelines of talent. There are a number of associations that help employers engage with Black and Hispanic candidates, women, and other underrepresented groups.
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Another option is to directly network with groups that deserve more attention and representation. For instance, HR leaders might communicate with veterans or members of the LGBTQ+ community. They might seek to speak with those who have disabilities to hear about their needs and accessibility in the workplace.
One certainty is that employers are no longer allowed to simply pay lip service to DEI. They must take action to keep employee engagement and experience positive and to ensure their employer brand continuously improves. These are some of the more common DEI practices, but the future will bring with them more ideas on how to provide more representation, help different people collaborate, and provide equitable pay and opportunities.
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