Shifting the dial on diversity and inclusion at work

The pandemic has thrown up new challenges

Shifting the dial on diversity and inclusion at work

For HR leaders starting out on a journey to transform the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within their organisations, the prospect can often feel daunting. While the pace of progress may feel glacial at times, the value of diversity and inclusion within a workplace is significant. Research shows diversity is a crucial ingredient for highly innovative, profitable businesses. After all, how can an organisation serve its customers if their employees fail to represent the society in which they’re operating? But despite this now widely accepted link between diversity and profit, some businesses still fail to prioritise investment in both diversity and inclusion.

Speaking to HRD, Dr Kristina Dorniak-Wall, senior people scientist at Culture Amp, pointed to a number of challenges that can prevent HR leaders from committing to ambitious, long-term DEI goals. Simply knowing where to start is the first hurdle, as well as how to quantify the commercial value of DEI to get buy-in from decision leaders at the top.

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“Given the on-going impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding how different minorities may be impacted by hybrid work models and the impact of intersectionalities is another challenge,” she said. “Another big issue as a result of the pandemic is that because of the increased demand on caregivers, how do organisations ensure they have equal opportunities at work and feel psychological safe at work?”

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While the pandemic has thrown up these extra challenges, it has also presented the perfect opportunity for HR leaders to begin their DEI journey and commit to real, meaningful change. In an upcoming webinar, hosted by HRD, Dorniak-Wall will delve into these challenges and help HR leaders stock their DEI toolkit full of useful strategies and tips to get started.

She urged leaders to go back to basics and focus on their foundations first to really set both themselves, and their organisations, up for success.

“The first thing HR leaders can do to overcome any roadblocks is to understand the make-up of their workforce in order to prepare meaningful action,” she said. “But once leaders get started, it’s vital to look at DEI as continual and not ‘done and dusted’.”

One of the hardest factors for HR leaders is calculating how much to spend on DEI. After all, it will be an investment, but one that will pay dividends in the long-term. Measuring DEI starts with collecting a myriad of data points and drilling down into the numbers. For example, take the cost of voluntary turnover. By using exit interviews, organisations can try to pinpoint the reason why an employee is leaving. Do they lack a sense of belonging, or feel looked over when it comes to promotions? Perhaps they have experienced racism or sexism in the workplace.

By quantifying these motivations for employees leaving, organisations can identify how much it is costing them on an annual basis and where to direct their investment. Regular engagement surveys are also a great opportunity to measure the level of belonging felt by employees. Once organisations have the starting data, they're able to measure the ROI as a result of the DEI iniatives in place. But remember, success won't be immediate.

Even for the most diverse and inclusive organisations, there’s always more work to be done. But the beauty of fostering a more diverse and inclusive workplace is that for every step forward, it’s a move in the right direction.

To hear more from Dr Kristina Dorniak-Wall, including in-depth data, insights and strategy, sign up to the free, virtual webinar by clicking here.

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