Report shows organizations are failing to back up their words with actions when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion
While many companies in the United States have made diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commitments since the racial protests in the summer of 2020, few have yet to make meaningful progress.
That’s the main takeaway from the 2022 Workplace DEI Report by Culture Amp, a platform that helps companies improve employee engagement, retention and performance. The platform is used by more than 5,000 organizations, including Nasdaq, Oracle and McDonald’s, with more than 25 million employees. California tech heavyweights AirBnB, Salesforce and Slack also rely upon Culture Amp.
In the Australian-based company’s survey of HR leaders and DEI practitioners, 81% reported that they believe that DEI initiatives are beneficial to their organizations. However, only 34% of respondents reported having enough resources to support their DEI initiatives.
While half of surveyed companies reported having a DEI mission statement, only 49% have a strategic diversity plan in place. These are both crucial steps in creating the organizational alignment necessary to create lasting, structural change, says Aubrey Blanche, senior director of equitable design, product and people at Culture Amp.
“While many companies believe that DEI is valuable, organizations are often not providing adequate resources, or aren’t strategically investing in DEI at the right levels to create significant change,” Blanche told HRD. “This means that companies are largely performing, rather than creating, DEI.”
Only 40% of organizations are conducting DEI-specific surveys, research shows. That’s disappointing because to make progress on representation, companies need to collect more data on the demographics and experience of their workforce. Once that data is collected, HR leaders and DEI practitioners should share it throughout the company to help drive leader awareness and action and provide accountability to employees.
Read more: How can HR leaders encourage discussions around DEI?
Culture Amp’s research also shows that companies aren’t doing enough to support working parents and caregivers. While 94% of companies surveyed reported providing some form of mental health benefits, only 21% said they are providing childcare assistance, and less than 10% of respondents reported providing senior care benefits. These investments would have been especially beneficial for women, research shows, as their agreement on “I am able to manage any caring responsibilities while transitioning back to work” declined 7% from last year.
“The workforce is becoming more diverse, so employees have very different expectations about the type of environment and social responsibility that businesses are taking,” Blanche says. “Companies that aren’t investing in DEI or are just doing performative things just won’t be good enough. They’ll be out-competed in terms of talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention.”
The report wasn’t all doom and gloom, though.
Eight out of 10 DEI roles have been filled in the last 18 months, indicating that most companies are just getting started on their path to progress, research shows. In addition, 63% of companies reported hosting DEI-related events and discussions. Despite lacking resources to drive change, the overwhelming majority (85%) of respondents agreed that their organization is building a diverse and inclusive culture, and employee perceptions of diversity have improved year over year.
Ultimately, having a diversity policy, implementing a strategic plan and using DEI data to make decisions are the most impactful initiatives organizations can take for creating a more diverse workplace, Blanche says.
Furthermore, Culture Amp data shows that improving the transparency and consistency of core organizational processes are the best ways to drive equity. Implementing employee recognition programs, formal mentorship programs, clear career pathways and explicitly sourcing underrepresented candidates are initiatives that are more likely to lead to equitable outcomes.
“This is just the beginning,” Blanche says. “We hope that these insights will translate DEI promises into real progress as organizations continue on their journey of building a better world of work for all.”