Businesses have been implementing diversity, equity and inclusivity (DE&I) initiatives for decades. But a recent Forbes article notes that some of these initiatives can resemble tokenism more than genuine workplace DE&I.
Creating truly inclusive workplaces requires more than tokenized diversity hires. It takes commitment to transformation in the workplace. This means structural changes in everything from hiring practices and leadership development to company culture.
A great deal of this organizational change starts with human resources (HR) leadership. Lamar University’s online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resource Management is designed to help students excel in such leadership roles. With the knowledge and skills gained through advanced HR management studies, graduates can help lead the change needed to create truly inclusive workplaces.
Why Is Workplace DE&I Important?
Equity is foundational to any modern code of ethics. Contemporary society demands that businesses prioritize corporate social responsibility. This means a business’s policies, operations and actions should align with its code of ethics and stated values. Essentially, if DE&I is among a company’s stated values, it must also be demonstrated in practice and action.
Increasingly, consumers also choose to support businesses that align with their values and perspectives on ethical behavior. DE&I is chief among the widely held values of modern consumers. Striving for DE&I in the workplace can therefore help companies maintain and grow the customer base.
Influencer and word-of-mouth marketing are also important for success in modern business. However, influencers and the public are often selective regarding the brands they promote. Namely, they support brands with equitable and inclusive work environments as integral to corporate responsibility.
These factors suggest that creating a diverse, inclusive workplace is important for a business’s bottom line. Great Place to Work (GPTW) analysis supports the bottom-line benefits of DE&I in the workplace.
According to GPTW, workplace diversity and inclusivity correlate with increased innovation readiness, higher revenue growth and improved employee retention. A diverse and inclusive team welcomes and generates diverse, creative ideas drawn from multiple perspectives. Diversity also supports better decision-making, avoiding siloed thoughts and assumptions common to homogenous groups. Moreover, multiple perspectives lead to diverse execution plans. This helps innovative ideas come to fruition.
Improved employee retention speaks to how diverse and inclusive workplaces enhance the employee experience. In an inclusive workplace culture, all people are respected, valued and feel they belong. This drives employee engagement, motivation and commitment to their colleagues and the organization.
Plus, companies today must compete for the best talent. Qualified candidates may vet company culture through researching its reputation and the employee experiences. Perceptions of diversity and inclusivity in an organization’s workplace underlie much of this reputation. So, workplace DE&I helps companies attract and retain diverse, talented employees.
How Can HR Managers Foster a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace?
HR managers have oversight of everything involving a company’s people. Recruitment and hiring practices, compensation, retention, the employee experience and workplace culture fall under HR’s purview. These and other aspects of HR management will also determine a company’s success in achieving DE&I.
Simply increasing the diversity of new hires does not create true DE&I. HR managers should intentionally and systematically incorporate DE&I into all practices, policies and actions.
First, HR managers should evaluate their organization and practices with regard to DE&I, targeting areas in need of improvement. This involves uncovering barriers to DE&I like:
- A lack of diverse representation throughout employee and leadership structures
- Equity gaps in compensation
- Bias ingrained in hiring practices or leadership development opportunities
- Corporate culture, value systems or behaviors that do not promote DE&I
HR can then devise a plan to break down such barriers and institute policies and practices that support DE&I. Interview and recruitment practices can be retooled and standardized to remove bias and attract diverse talent. Companies should prioritize leadership development for high-potential diverse candidates. In addition, they should review compensation packages and eliminate inequities.
HR should also engage leadership, employees and stakeholders in fostering a corporate culture focused on DE&I, with all staff from the C-suite down actively supporting and striving for diversity and inclusivity in both people and ideas.
With intention and determination, HR management can progress toward increasing diversity and equity in the workforce. By creating a truly inclusive workplace where all employees feel a sense of belonging, HR managers can drive employee engagement, innovation and business success.
Great Place to Work: