Embracing DEI in Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate

Improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is something few industries have been able to avoid, as more employees place an onus on employers to nurture more diverse, inclusive, and fair workplaces. This could not be truer for service industries like finance, real estate, and insurance. As these industries experience an influx of new talent, and employers have a growing responsibility to improve upon DEI, organizations must set strategic DEI goals. 

Progress in these service-based industries has a long way to go. Our studies show that 85% of employers in these industries are actively recruiting for open roles, and yet, 24% of existing employees feel their organizations have done nothing to improve DEI. On top of that, 40% of employees say their employers never shared information around DEI efforts during recruiting. But that’s not all:

  • Just 35% of employers view improving DEI as one of their top 3 priorities for this year, and only 9% are prioritizing employee retention. 
  • Meanwhile, 71% of employers have been asked for insights into their DEI efforts from employees, and 41% say they’ve been asked for the same insights by candidates. 
  • Forty-two percent of employers say their greatest challenge in achieving DEI goals is sourcing diverse candidates. 
  • Just 40% of employers believe they’re making significant improvements with their DEI goals, while 27% believe they still have a long way to go. 

At the same time, employees and recruits in these industries are demanding more inclusive, diverse cultures from organizations. Our survey revealed that 37% of employers have noticed candidates seeking more diverse, inclusive, and fair workplace cultures. Meanwhile, only 26% of employees claim they were exposed to their employer’s DEI initiatives during hiring. 

With 36% of these employers aiming to achieve their DEI goals within the next 2 years, there are actionable steps employers can take to consistently improve upon DEI in their sectors.

Source: The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities

Communicate your DEI goals and initiatives

With 85% of finance, real estate, and insurance employers actively recruiting for open roles, it’s crucial that you communicate your DEI strategy across your organization and hiring candidates. When employees understand the organization-wide reach of your DEI objectives, they’re in a better position to help you achieve those goals, especially your recruiting teams. Ensure that DEI policies, strategy updates, and resources are accessible to all and that they’re integrated into your recruiting program. 

  • Twenty-four percent of employers are prioritizing alignment between HR goals and broader organizational goals, as 29% seek to grow their employee base.
  • When communicating their efforts around DEI to employees, our survey found that 42% of employers are updating their handbooks to reflect DEI efforts, 55% are sharing information around DEI initiatives across company channels, and 48% are offering consistent DEI training to internal employees. 
  • When communicating DEI efforts to prospects, we found that 71% of employers leverage their website’s home page to share information about DEI, while 63% use social media channels, and 63% share DEI resources with candidates during the recruitment process. 
  • Forty-six percent of employers across these industries have created or reviewed their DEI policies and shared them with employees. 
  • Fifty-five percent of employers surveyed in our 2021 Report say communicating their DEI efforts and progress to their employees offers the most room for improvement.
  • Forty-six percent of employers say one of their top priorities over the next 12 months is communicating both ongoing and future DEI plans with employees, while 59% say they’re establishing internal alignment around what DEI means to their organization. 
  • Twenty-nine percent of employers are also prioritizing collecting ongoing feedback from employees on DEI efforts. 
  • Seventeen percent of employees feel their organization’s greatest challenge is not communicating DEI efforts internally, while another 17% believe a lack of buy-in from executives is another significant challenge. 

From an employee perspective, communicating DEI efforts is crucial to achieving buy-in and support for your DEI initiatives. Consider that just 23% of employees in these industries say they were introduced to their company’s DEI efforts during onboarding, while just 33% say their employers share DEI resources and efforts across the organization. In addition to that, just 10% are encouraged to speak with upper management about concerns regarding DEI. Only 26% of employees further claim they are provided with resources to help them get involved in their organization’s DEI initiatives. 

Measure the success of your DEI initiatives 

Tracking the progress of your DEI initiatives is key to understanding both the success of your DEI strategy and the gaps or areas in need of improvement. Though many employers and recruitment professionals recognize the need for measuring DEI goals, our 2021 DEI Report shows that just 39% of employers plan to measure the success of ongoing DEI objectives. Start by identifying a few key areas where DEI can be improved in your organization, then create goals your team can work towards over a set period and measure the progress of those goals as you go. 

  • Thirty-five percent of employers are prioritizing measuring the success of their existing and ongoing DEI initiatives over the next 12 months.
  • Fifty-one percent of employers feel measuring their DEI efforts poses an opportunity for improvement.
  • When measuring DEI, 64% of employers we surveyed in finance, real estate, and insurance use hiring results, 51% use employee experience surveys, and 51% use employee demographics, while 35% use regular check-ins with existing employees, and 31% use retention rates.
  • Thirty-one percent of employers are leveraging compensation increases and promotion rates to help measure their DEI efforts, while just 14% leverage insights from offboarding interviews.
  • Our survey also found that 24% of employers are leveraging additional employee surveys to gather data around their DEI efforts. 
  • Where 37% of employers say they’re leveraging data and insights to uncover potential bias in their hiring processes, only 15% of employees believe they are. 
  • Twenty-five percent of employees say their employers conduct employee surveys to gather data around DEI initiatives. 
  • When measuring the effectiveness of DEI efforts, 26% of employees believe their employers are leveraging insights from hiring results, while 35% say employers are using employee demographics. 
Source: The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities

Audit your existing recruitment practices

In recruiting, DEI matters. And, in industries like finance, real estate, and insurance, ensuring that you integrate DEI practices into your hiring processes is crucial. One of the first steps you can take towards improving DEI in your organization is to audit your existing recruitment practices and determine any gaps in your hiring practices so you can ensure they’re both fair and inclusive. To perform a baseline audit, look first at each element of your recruiting process—including job descriptions, candidate outreach, employee experience surveys, and more—and note any gaps or inconsistencies where DEI may be lacking. Having this foundational understanding of your existing practices will help you choose the right areas to improve or work on to achieve DEI initiatives.

  • While 85% of employers are actively recruiting for open roles, only 42% plan on making actionable changes to their hiring strategies, and 48% say it’s difficult to find time to prioritize DEI on top of other responsibilities. 
  • Thirty-eight percent of employers feel changing their hiring, onboarding, and training processes to align with their DEI goals offers the most room for improvement, while 25% would like to invite employees to contribute to their efforts. 
  • Forty-four percent of employers are planning to adopt more diverse hiring tactics over the next 12 months to assist with improving DEI in their recruiting efforts. 
  • Sixty-four percent of employers are formalizing a DEI strategy for their organization. 
  • When working towards DEI in recruiting, 48% of employers are posting open roles in nontraditional outlets, while just 25% are proactively sourcing candidates from untraditional backgrounds, 40% are ensuring their job postings are worded to avoid bias, 35% are using anonymized resume review, 31% are standardizing interview questions and rubrics, and 27% are hiring from new geographic locations. 
  • Interestingly, just 29% of employers are involving diverse stakeholders in recruiting and hiring decisions. 

Employees are slightly more skeptical about their employers’ efforts to diversify their recruiting and hiring processes. For example, our survey found that just 25% of employees believe their employers are sourcing candidates from untraditional backgrounds, while a mere 15% notice employers involving diverse stakeholders in recruiting decisions. Additionally, just 37% believe their employers have formalized a DEI strategy for their organization, and 22% feel their companies are making actionable changes to hiring practices. With 29% of employees believing their employers place higher priority on other organizational goals, ensuring you have a DEI strategy in place is critical in 2021 and beyond. 

Make your recruiting process a foundation for change 

At Lever, we’re committed to providing you with the tools you need to attract, nurture, and retain diverse talent in your organization. We surveyed over 500 HR decision-makers and 1,000 employees to determine the state of DEI in 2021—and we break down the results in our latest Report. Explore new strategies for improving DEI in your organization today and beyond with our 2021 State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report. 

Download the Report