By Mary Rizzuti
Businesses have long accepted the various benefits that come with incorporating and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”) in the workplace. As business leaders continue to incorporate DEI as a larger part of their strategic plans, they must be thoughtful and committed to their goals and programs.
When it comes to DEI, the commitment is only as strong as those committed to it. The following are strategies organizations are leveraging to spark their DEI programs, produce competitive advantages in their markets, and create a more inclusive workplace for all.
Change the Conversation
A better culture starts with better conversations. The ability to have meaningful discussions contributes greatly to productive relationships across diversity divides. People at every organizational level need to be able to foster effective conversations about DEI to remove silos and communication barriers.
Improve Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring should be a central part of an effective DEI program to effectuate the necessary change management.
Managers can ensure all their direct reports are heard, given feedback, provided support and offered opportunities. Human resources can communicate expectations to managers so that they understand the key role they play in making organizational DEI initiatives successful and providing access to DEI training, resources and tools. Senior leadership must be effective advocates who actively work to foster positive and equitable outcomes.
Analyze What’s Working
Like any business plan, first assess what you have and identify what is working and where gaps may exist. Some leading questions may be: What assumptions are being made about individuals’ current performance and future potential? Are different standards applied to some individuals or groups? What are the expected outcomes of our programs? Are we achieving them?
Audit and assess your policies and practices related to recruiting, hiring and promoting talent. Comprehensive compensation market studies, effective performance management programs, employee development programs, on-the-job learning and formal training build a solid foundation upon which to build DE&I programs. These initiatives increase confidence among employees and demonstrate that the company is committed to fairness, equity and inclusion.
Know Your Business Case for Initiating a DEI Program
A well-executed DEI program offers many business benefits. While creating an environment where people from all backgrounds can thrive, building and maintaining a diverse workforce provides access to a larger pool of candidates with diverse skill sets—bringing a wealth of perspectives, experiences and knowledge that sparks innovation and fresh ideas and solutions.
Analyze Your Employee Population
No two DEI programs are the same, and different initiatives and options will be better suited for different populations of employees. While it is important to analyze the employee populations from a numbers perspective (e.g., distribution of workforce from gender, ethnic background, age, perspective), this analysis does not always tell the entire story.
To fully understand your employee population, an analysis of the presence of diversity from a hierarchical level is also important. This is to identify any trends or findings with respect to the presence or absence of a particular group within the management levels of a company.
Have Deliberate DEI Planning and Set Attainable Goals
As with all business metrics, DE&I goals must be set, executed and measured. Employers must determine what barriers exist that impede employing, developing and/or identifying individuals from different groups and then address them.
Successful DE&I programs are those that come from senior leadership and are socialized into the culture and day-to-day operations of a business. DE&I is an ongoing journey. The path to success includes writing a DE&I plan, communicating it across the organization, measuring its outcomes and revising as needed.
For more information on HR Outsourcing and other services, please visit EisnerAmper.com.