DEI is not a talent attraction strategy — and it is not the sole responsibility of HR
Zone’s Employee Experience Strategy Director, Lauren Coe, discusses how organisations can authentically embed DEI into their purpose and brand.
DEI (Diversity, Equality, Inclusion) is core to your business brand and culture and should be lived through every interaction and experience by every employee, customer, partner, and the society in which you operate.
DEI is core to fostering a sense of belonging across all your employees and continues to be a major influence in the engagement of your workforce. However, many organisations focus on talent attraction, which has resulted in a disjointed experience for individuals between attraction and recruitment to growth, development, and engagement. This has been reflected in a recent survey completed by Workday on employee engagement, in which we see a clear gap between the expectation of leadership to support a diverse and inclusive workplace and the perception of the organisations’ efforts in DEI.
Younger generations still feel there is work to be done, with only 68% of Gen Z and 66% of Millennials satisfied with their Employer’s DEI efforts. When compared with 76% of employees considering it an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers, we can see the gap between a DEI campaign and designing DEI into every experience.
Organisations need to create a purpose and brand that is authentic to their business and a culture that lives this throughout their experiences. This includes their DEI strategy, which should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach but be tailored to the organisation for it to be delivered authentically and effectively.
However, there are some actions organisations can take to address some of the key expectations and behaviours of their employees and customers to understand how well they are truly living their DEI strategy.
How organisations can authentically implement DEI?
Employees are more socially conscious than ever before and questioning how companies nurture underserved talent. What you can do:
· Ensure your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is closely representative of your culture, workforce, and future workforce. Continuously evolve your EVP based on data, insights & feedback
· Use data to identify and attract those underrepresented communities, partnering with other organisations and establishing a diverse candidate pipeline
· Do not rely on unconscious bias training; incorporate this into a multi-pronged approach to embed D&I across the entire organisation, values, campaigns, marketing, and recruitment
Every day is an opportunity to live your DEI strategy, and the expectations of your workforce are changing. What you can do:
· Make space for open discussions. Be intentional about listening to your employees by reflecting and acting on their feedback. Maintain your culture through every interaction
· Understand your workforce and what matters most to them. Things like flexibility will have a different meaning to different people, and this needs to be considered in strategies, policies, and processes
· Create community and affinity groups in your organisation that celebrate the diversity among your employees. Promote expanding people’s networks beyond their own interests, beliefs, and experiences
Employees want to see their organisations levelling the playing field in Growth & Progression. What you can do:
· Create a Talent Marketplace in which all employees have access to all opportunities, whether role, mentoring or project work
· Establish a mentoring scheme across your employees, but show consideration particularly to underrepresented groups and identify any additional support
· Create clear, transparent expectations for each role and level and create personalised learning plans based on employees’ needs and learning styles. Consider skills mix for progression as well as background and personal circumstances
Exit is often a forgotten experience but is vital in your DEI strategy. What you can do:
· Identify your biggest challenges by using attrition data that covers all characteristics of your workforce. Be honest about where you are seeing large attrition and take action
· Continue to listen to your employees, embedding listening throughout your engagement strategy — this should not stop when staff hand in their notice. Exit interviews, when done correctly, are invaluable
· Maintain your relationship by creating alumni and enabling past employees to continue being part of the communities and affiliations they established relationships with during their employment with you. Create brand ambassadors
There is no argument that DEI should remain a key aspect of your attraction strategy for all organisations. However, to retain that top talent, organisations need to invest in technology that reaches all underrepresented groups; focuses on the education and development of leadership, managers, and all employees; designs an EVP that represents a true reflection of the experiences of employees, customers, and partners; but most importantly, lives DEI through everyday experiences.
Organisations who prioritise DEI will not only see an improvement in attraction and retention but are likely to be more innovative and adaptable (key attributes in today’s world of economic and geo-political uncertainty) and experience higher financial returns.
So, in summary, authentic DEI is not a nice-to-have but essential in how organisations position and live their brand among employees, customers, and society.
 Employee Expectations 2022, Workday
 Glassdoor’s Diversity & Inclusion Workplace Survey, Glassdoor, 2020
 Why Diversity & Inclusion has become a Business Priority, Josh Bersin, 2019