Set—and Measure—Specific Goals to Improve Your Investments in DEI

Investments in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have consistently been mentioned as a top goal for companies in 2021—with studies to back up the relationship between improved DEI and improved business metrics—but a survey of 800-plus human resources (HR) professionals revealed that more than 75% of companies have no specific DEI goals.

In addition, only 4% of those surveyed said they felt fully prepared to lead DEI programs, fewer than 12% said their companies tracked the achievement of DEI goals, only 32% required DEI training for employees and just 34% provided DEI training to managers. These were among the findings of Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion, a report by HR analyst Josh Bersin.

These numbers are in line with the International Foundation’s most recent Workplace Wellness Trends survey report, which showed that just 37% of organizations provided cultural/diversity initiatives or training.

According to Elevating Equity, there can be huge payoffs—in terms of culture and business performance—for those investing in DEI. The report cites data showing that diverse boards and teams outperform others and that companies known for DEI are more profitable.

Set—and Measure—Specific Goals to Improve Your Investments in DEI

The Importance of Detailed DEI Goals

Setting specific and measurable DEI goals as well as getting buy-in and accountability from company leadership are vital steps, according to Susan Hunter, an equity, diversity and inclusion consultant based in Toronto, Ontario who wrote “Taking the Diversity and Inclusion Journey: A Path Forward for Companies” in the November/December issue of Plans & Trusts.

Hunter, who also moderated an International Foundation session titled “A Conversation About Racial Inequality in Canada,” has stated three best practices for organizations looking to advance their DEI objectives and reap the benefits of a diverse workforce: (1) Establish a listening strategy, (2) examine the workforce data and (3) assess the corporate culture.

Examples of steps that organizations can take include setting up employee resource groups that create a safe space for diverse employees to talk openly about their experiences; collecting data at the job level and then analyzing it for gaps and disparities in the workplace; creating mentorship programs; and providing education and training to create awareness of unconscious bias, challenge stereotypes and shift perceptions.

Hunter and Bersin both highlighted the importance of executive leadership demonstrating commitment to DEI and tying accountability to measurable goals.

Employees Need a Sense of Belonging

In addition to DEI, the employee engagement platform Glint pointed to the need for a sense of belonging, in which employees feel accepted at work and identify with each other for a shared sense of community. A recent post by Glint’s Archana Ramesh talked about the importance of gathering and sharing feedback at every level of the organization. Ramesh offered five steps that companies can take to improve a sense of belonging in their workforce: align, listen, inform, enable and check in.

  1. Align. Create a common perspective on why diversity and belonging are important to organizational success.
  2. Listen. Understand experiences across the organization, including conversations with different talent segments and diverse populations.
  3. Inform. Review what’s working and not working in your strategy, and then work toward goals to strengthen diversity initiatives.
  4. Enable. Provide coaching to teams and leaders to build inclusive practices in the way they work. Give quick access to feedback so that individuals and teams are empowered to own it.
  5. Check in. Make time to measure progress, correct problems, recognize improvements and learn together.

By setting specific targets, measuring progress and improving employees’ sense of belonging, organizations can move beyond words and start achieving their DEI goals for 2021 and beyond.

Learn More from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resource page.

Robbie Hartman, CEBS
Editor, Publications, for the International Foundation

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