Moving the Needle

Companies looking to develop D&I programs with impact should consider these best practices.

By Marta Chmielowicz

The social justice movements of 2020 and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people of color moved the needle on diversity and inclusion (D&I), framing it as a national priority for businesses and employees alike. Research shows that employees will do their best work when part of an inclusive organization. According to Glint, employees with a strong sense of belonging are more than six times as likely to be engaged than those who don’t.

Josh Bersin’s Elevating Equity report, a year-long study of diversity and inclusion programs in today’s businesses, reveals one practice was the best predictor of excellence in D&I: listening to employees and acting on results. This switches D&I from a compliance program to one based on performance and growth. In fact, organizations that listen to employees, hear what they are saying, and act accordingly are:

  • 3.6 times more likely to innovate effectively;
  • 6.6 times more likely to adapt well to change;
  • 8.4 times more likely to inspire a sense of belonging;
  • 8.5 times more likely to satisfy and retain customers; and
  • 12 times more likely to retain and engage employees.

Organizations with strong D&I programs consistently experience a high return on investment along many lines of the business. Those with strong D&I consulting skills are 2.2 times more likely to have strong financial performance. When business partners work with HR on D&I topics, companies are 2.9 times more likely to innovate effectively. When D&I is embedded into every HR program, companies are 8.2 times more likely to satisfy and retain customers.

D&I Must Permeate the Entire Talent Journey

Companies that want to improve their diversity performance tend to focus on one thing: hiring. But the research shows that a hiring-only approach does not solve diversity issues. Minority candidates quickly leave organizations if they feel excluded or see no diverse role models in leadership and management.

To create a program with real impact, D&I must be built into performance evaluations, pay and rewards, opportunities to grow and develop, and the promotion process. Some of the top D&I practices implemented in high-performing companies include:

  • using objective pre-hire assessments (74%);
  • mandating diverse candidate slates (74%);
  • evaluating promotion and pay decisions for diversity and racial equity (68%);
  • actively mitigating bias in performance evaluations (65%);
  • mitigating bias in talent and succession (62%); and
  • rewarding and recognizing senior leaders for D&I results (44%).

Metrics Help Drive Strategy

Organizations can’t create a D&I strategy without defining how success will be measured. The right measurements keep organizations and program managers accountable.

The Elevating Equity report shows three best practices around driving success through metrics.

  • Leveraging external benchmarking and comparisons within specific industry segments allows organizations to identify metrics that drive results.
  • Including inclusion and belonging goals in the metrics dashboard can help ensure a holistic approach. This can be done by embedding an inclusion index into employee surveys.
  • Transparency to all audiences about D&I goals can help companies stay focused and honest in their approach. Keeping employees, managers, and leaders informed about diversity practices will encourage participation and innovation.

Companies that integrate D&I into all of their talent processes can make structural changes that foster true inclusion.

Posted April 20, 2021 in Talent Acquisition

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