Commitment to DEI leads to lower attrition, happier workers: Report

Leaders 'play a more profound role than they realize in driving and shaping the experience of inclusion in the workplace'

Commitment to DEI leads to lower attrition, happier workers: Report

Supporting workers of diverse backgrounds not only makes workers happy, it makes them stay, according to a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group.

Overall, employees who feel free to be their authentic selves at work all improve their inclusion scores, with an average increase of 37 percentage points on the company’s BLISS (Bias-Free, Leadership, Inclusion, Safety, and Support) Index.

And employees who believe their managers support them have a 4% attrition risk — versus 17% for employees who feel their managers do not support them. 

"The BLISS Index gives us deep analytical proof that inclusion directly affects the decisions people make about their jobs," said Gabrielle Novacek, a BCG managing director and partner, and the lead author of the report Inclusion Isn’t Just Nice. It’s Necessary.

Companies that safeguard against discrimination, eliminate experiences of bias and ensure consequences for disrespectful behaviour directly “improve employees’ feelings of psychological safety and thereby improve feelings of inclusion,” according to the report. Overall, employees who experience or even just witness discrimination, bias or disrespect are nearly 1.4 times more likely to quit.

While 89% of employers have programs in place to support DEI&B, 62% of employees feel their company is not doing what it needs to do to be truly committed to creating a workplace that supports it, found a recent report.

Leaders’ role

Leaders “play a more profound role than they realize in driving and shaping the experience of inclusion in the workplace," said Novacek.

In fact, actions by senior leaders and direct managers account for two-thirds of the overall BLISS Index score.

When senior leaders are strongly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), companies are likely to have:

  • seven times as many direct managers who are committed to DEI
  • five times as much diversity in senior leadership
  • three times as many direct managers who create safe working environments.

Also, at companies whose senior leaders are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), 84% of employees feel valued and respected, compared to just 44% among companies where leaders are not viewed as committed to DEI. And employees who strongly disagree that their leaders are committed to DEI report feelings of value and respect of only 16%.

When senior leaders are committed to DEI, 83% of employees report that their direct managers are also committed to DEI and 86% say that their direct managers create a feeling of psychological safety (as opposed to just 17% and 29%, respectively, at companies without a senior leadership commitment to DEI).

Inclusive cultures also draw more ambitious candidates as well. A quarter (25%) of employees who are definitely seeking a promotion in the next one to three years chose not to apply for or to accept a role because they had negative perceptions of inclusion within a company’s culture. That’s compared with 8% of less ambitious candidates. 

And when employees believe senior leaders are committed to DEI, they are 33 percentage points more likely to feel comfortable speaking out in the face of discrimination, bias, and disrespectful behavior, found the Boston Consulting Group’s survey of more than 27,000 employees across industries from 16 countries.

“When employees feel emboldened to speak up or see consequences for these types of behaviors, they are more comfortable being their authentic selves at work, which makes them feel that the workplace is more inclusive,” said the company in the report.

The majority of Black Canadians are worried about the impact a recession could have on anti-racism progress made over the past year, according to a previous report.

Meaningful action

Here are some steps that employers can take toward meaningful action on DEI, according to the Center for Creative Leadership:

  • Foster direct conversations about EDI to break down silos and communication barriers.
  • Make sure your team understands why they should collaborate across boundaries, and explore how you might span them more effectively.
  • Create a network of champions to enable the development, contributions, and career growth of all employees.
  • Help managers and teams evaluate the practices and policies that create the structures for how work gets done and shape the employee experience.
  • Define diversity through a lens of social identity.

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