How Workers Feel About Their Companies’ DEI Programs

Companies have made concerted efforts to create diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in their workplaces in recent years — efforts that, when executed well, are proving to resonate with employees.

However, despite this newfound focus on DEI, a recent SHRM Research Institute surveys shows many businesses lack the necessary investment in and resources for successful and sustainable DEI initiatives.

What’s more, Lever’s 2022 State of DEI report also found nearly half (48%) of employees said DEI-centric training provided by their leadership team felt more like a checkbox on their company’s diversity goals.

In other words, these C-suites’ efforts didn’t reflect a sincere and devoted willingness on their part to help realize a diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment.

The takeaways from this research?

Many workers believe their orgs are making considerable progress with DEI — but many also think more can (and should) be done to address problems with their programs, including the:

  • Lack of transparency about how the programs are run and how decisions are made
  • Feeling programs are tokenistic or performative rather than genuinely committed to DEI
  • Sense programs benefit those are already in power rather than marginalized groups

Your DEI programs — including those tied to your your diversity recruiting and hiring and internal mobility efforts — need the proper backing to succeed.

That begs the question:

What can you and your talent acquisition team do to aid the collective efforts of your DEI committee, human resources colleagues, and leadership team to realize a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace?

diversity in the workplace

What today’s workers think about their orgs’ DEI programs (and progress with them)

Before we offer advice and insights regarding how you can implement new DEI programs (or modify existing ones) to ensure your workforce approves of your direction with them, it’s worth taking the time to understand their current sentiment of DEI efforts at large.

Workers are mixed on whether their company’s DEI programs are effective, with some feeling that the programs are helpful and others doubting their effectiveness.

Speaking with Fast Company, Maximum Communications CEO Ayana King said DEI programs are usually only impactful when they are strategized and carried out from the leadership team.

“The most effective way to ensure [DEI] program success is through a top-down approach in which leaders demonstrate and communicate the value in diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces,” said Ayana.

Our DEI report found that, whether started by someone in your C-suite or a DEI committee member, implementing strategic DEI programs that are constructed based on (and regularly optimized around) the opinions and suggestions of your entire workforce is essential.

dei initiatives communication from leadership about diversity

Benefits of DEI programs: The positive impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives

The pros of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are numerous.

  • They can help create a more diverse and inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable and respected. Ideally, it will also become an essential aspect of the hiring processes for the company.
  • What’s more, dedicated DEI programs can help improve an organization’s bottom line by attracting and retaining top talent from underrepresented groups.
  • Companies with above-average diversity in leadership teams saw an increase in innovation by 19%, while diversity-driven companies saw a 14% higher share of the revenue from new products.

Despite these many advantages to DEI-oriented initiatives, companies face certain challenges when implementing DEI programs in the workplace.

For instance, employees may feel that their company needs to do more to support diversity or that the program needs to meet their needs.

Moreover, diversity, equity, and inclusion programs can be costly and time-consuming to implement, and there may be resistance from management or other employees.

In order to be successful, DEI-centric programs must have buy-in from all levels of the org: from upper-level management ti entry- and mid-level employees.

As Alphabet CEO Sunday Pichai said, “A diverse mix of voices [across one’s business] leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”

dei initiatives communication from leadership about diversity

How to implement more effective DEI programs

In order for your company’s DEI programs to be more effective, they need to be tailored to the specific needs of the business and its workplace culture.

Whether it’s through ongoing diversity training or standalone, ad-hoc meetings with each department, DEI programs are necessary to better attract and retain employees and build an enviable company culture that bolsters your employer brand reputation.

Some best practices to follow when creating new DEI programs for your business include:

  • Create measurable goals: When you create measurable goals for DEI, you can define your organization’s needs and set a quantifiable standard for success.
  • Identify and address fixes to internal inclusion problems first: Knowing and offering solutions to systemic issues around inclusivity at your organization can show you, your DEI council, and your e-staff care about making progress.
  • Create a safe space for sharing: Allow employees to share stories, thoughts, ideas, and recommendations in a welcoming environment. This helps create a long-term culture of positive interactions around diversity and inclusion.
  • Make the leadership team accountable: Diversity leaders need the support of their C-suite to achieve their OKRs associated with their DEI programs.

Arguably the most important best practice revolves around intent with DEI programs.

“If you set your intention from the beginning, it builds a framework you can fine-tune as you go along,” Chief People Officer Luan Lam told CIO.

Ultimately, the success of your org’s DEI programs depends on your performance against predefined KPIs tied to each program, the level of buy-in from leadership and employees, and the execution — and regularly optimization — of your initiatives.

“You can’t really know how well you are doing at building the inclusive environment … if you don’t set goals and measure your progress against them,” CIO’s Christina Wood wrote.

Find out how Visual Insights in LeverTRM can help you improve your diversity recruiting and hiring efforts. Schedule a demo of our native talent acquisition suite today.

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