The heightened focus on diversity and inclusion has become increasingly visible across organizations. From employee resource groups and inclusive job descriptions to unconscious bias training and video conferences on diversity and respect, employers are striving to support a diverse workforce. Yet there remains a significant gap between what employers say they are doing in the D&I space and what employees actually experience.
Those are the findings of the Workplace Intelligence Report, a survey of more than 1,300 businesses and over 4,000 employees by New York-based Greenhouse Software. While 55 percent of companies have implemented a D&I program, 45 percent of staff-level employees don’t know if their employer has such a program in place or claim their employer doesn’t have a D&I program at all. Even more concerning, 47 percent of employers say their D&I initiatives have positively improved their corporate culture, yet 48 percent of employees believe their employer only handles D&I issues through the grievance process.
While some organizations may simply be falling short in their efforts, the problem is usually a failure to embed the D&I mindset throughout its operations and culture, says Greenhouse’s Head of People Cheryl Roubian.
To begin narrowing that gap, Roubian recommends employers take the following three steps:
- Focus on the Candidate Experience: Diversity and inclusion begins with how an organization positions itself to candidates, says Roubian. A structured hiring process that reduces bias is absolutely imperative. “You must nudge your recruiters to think about how the job description might speak to one demographic and nudge your hiring managers to think whether the words they are using in the interview might carry their own bias,” she says.
- Make D&I Part of the Day-to-Day: A big, flashy launch may be an effective way to draw attention to a new initiative, but it won’t embed it in the way people work. Once an organization has built the systems and processes to be a truly diverse and inclusive environment, employees must be given the opportunity to develop and practice the necessary skills. “You really have to bake those habits into your work flows of your people to make a difference,” says Roubian.
- Measure Perception: An employer may believe their D&I initiative is effective because of the sheer number of diverse candidates joining its workforce. But if those employees don’t feel a sense of belonging, the organization is not truly inclusive. Roubian recommends surveying employees on an annual basis to assess their true sentiments around belonging — and then communicating those findings to the workforce. Often, she says, employers are hesitant to measure and publicize such findings, but “if you don’t measure, how do you make progress?”
“Often, companies embark on D&I endeavors and there are a lot of big ideas and probably a slide deck, but not a lot of follow-up,” says Roubian. “Having good D&I practices based in how you operate is critically important for them not only to be effective, but also to be visible to your staff.”