Moving DEI Initiatives Forward
By Meredith Wise
DEI Initiatives are very much in our conversations. However, the HR Trends 2023 survey by McLean & Co. show that actions on these initiatives have stalled for the second year in a row.
This study highlights human-resources priorities and challenges, comparing current-year results to prior years. In 2021, DEI efforts jumped from eighth place in 2020 to fourth place largely due to national and global conversations and actions around equity and social justice. In 2022, these efforts fell to fifth place, and this year they have dropped to sixth on the HR priority list.
In our work helping companies develop roadmaps for DEI, a handful of key areas are lacking: dedicated time to focus on DEI, leadership support, training, and resources.
According to the study, governance, leadership buy-in, strategic discussions, and data collection are the common roadblocks to moving DEI efforts forward. Actions and planning can refocus your organization’s initiatives.
Leadership: Senior leaders should model DEI behaviors in all their interactions and communications. Training alone will not move your goals along. Moving beyond awareness training to competency learning opportunities will help elevate the support from leadership. The data in the study demonstrated that the 40% of organizations that leverage competency-based training are more likely to be high-performing in DEI compared to those leveraging awareness-based training.
Communications: DEI-related topics and performance should be woven into regular communication cadences from leaders and HR functions. Active communication and discussions about initiatives, actions, and challenges need to happen.
Formal DEI Strategy: Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated they did not have a formal or documented DEI strategy.This percentage has remained stable over the past three years. Policies and practices document how DEI programs will operate in the organization. These policies should address how DEI considerations are integrated, including the employee experience, performance management, recruiting, retention, advancement, compensation, and more.
Data: Understanding that time is at a premium for HR teams and professionals, initiatives in 2023 may best be focused on data collection and analysis. This data will shape strategy, demonstrate gaps and urgency to the organization, and allow for informed decisions on a formal strategy and governance.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution; however, with a combination of leadership support, resources, and a dedicated team, organizations will more likely become high performing versus those without this focus.
According to the study, recruiting is once again the number-one priority on HR professionals’ minds for the third year in a row. Although DEI has fallen further down the list, this work does not exist in a silo — maintaining momentum on DEI efforts will support other priorities, including talent attraction and retention.
It’s also good news that embedding DEI into organizational culture and processes does not require a degree in advanced physics. All that’s needed to operationalize DEI is the right commitment, planning, and structure.
Meredith Wise is president of the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. This article first appeared on the EANE blog; eane.org