Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are at the top of the minds of organizational leaders worldwide as they realize that it’s not just the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but it’s a business imperative, too. According to a report by McKinsey, achieving true global gender equality in the workplace could add US$12 trillion to global growth.
It’s not all about the money, though. Deloitte’s recent LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work: A Global Outlook survey found that the visible use of gender pronouns in the workplace made LGBTQ employees feel psychologically safe about being “out” at work. Other studies have also found that using the correct pronouns and names reduces the risks of depression and suicide.
While considerations like this certainly create a strong business case for any organization to take DEI seriously, it’s unfortunately something that many businesses struggle with, and progress in many sectors remains behind targets and expectations as programs designed to increase DEI in the workplace fail for a myriad of reasons.
Improving DEI in the Workplace
Even with the very best intentions in the world, no DEI initiative will be successful if the right support, management, and processes aren’t in place.
After all, it’s very easy to make a couple of changes to company policy or publicly show your support for the LGBTQ community on social media and say, “Look at how inclusive we are!”, but true, long-term DEI improvements that have a lasting impact require a long-term commitment from willing leadership.
With this in mind, here are some of our tips for promoting real, long-term improvements when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Build an Inclusive Culture
- Set Key Performance Indicators
- Continue Offering Flexible Working
- Create an Environment of Psychological/Psychosocial Safety
- Use Organizational Charts & Other Tools for DEI Monitoring
1. Build an Inclusive Culture
Building an inclusive culture is the single most important thing that organizational leaders can do to improve DEI. But what exactly is organizational culture?
Culture is, by definition, “the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society,” and an organization’s culture is the culmination of the priorities, values, and behaviors, which support their employees in how they work singularly. It’s something that plays a huge role in shifting the needle when it comes to DEI and forming a truly inclusive environment.
A positive and inclusive organizational culture should be dedicated to professional values that support all employees, all backgrounds, all genders, all ethnicities, and all sexualities, and allow them to work with organizational leaders rather than feel like they’re working for them. Cultural inclusion begins at the top, and leaders must display inclusive behavior and be committed to the cause in order to establish an inclusive culture over time.
2. Set Key Performance Indicators
The things that are measured are the things that are done. That’s why it’s important to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for DEI and hold people accountable for achieving them. For instance, you might choose to set goals like:
- Representation: Compare the representation of individuals from underrepresented groups to data from industry benchmarks and market demographics. KPIs can then be set to improve representation in areas where groups are underrepresented internally.
- Retention: Look at the average tenure of employees who belong to underrepresented groups and use existing data to try and identify trends for those groups. Set KPIs around retention goals and focus areas that could lead to higher retention rates.
- Promotions: Look at information like group representation by job level or job role, promotion rate by demographic, and length of time to promotion by demographic. Set KPIs to encourage promotions among those in underrepresented groups.
Before you set your KPIs, you need to know which DEI dimensions and metrics you’re going to follow. Organizations typically measure DEI metrics for data that is readily available, with the obvious examples being race and gender. However, DEI extends beyond these metrics (e.g., family status, educational attainment, professional expertise, age, disability, immigration status…), and organizations should avoid limiting measurements to data captured by existing systems.
3. Continue Offering Flexible Working
Flexible working has arguably redefined the way we work in the post-pandemic world. Although some employers have tried to get everyone back to the office full-time, the majority have seen and taken note of the writing on the wall (i.e., the so-called ‘Great Resignation’) and now offer ongoing hybrid and flexible working options to employees that want it.
Hybrid and flexible working doesn’t just make employees happier and more productive, though. It also has a big impact on DEI. By offering flexibility to employees, you’re actively demonstrating an understanding that not everybody works the same and that everyone’s needs for work-life balance are different.
To support the needs of a broad range of employees who all have their own unique needs, challenges, and commitments, consider offering a variety of hybrid and flexible working options to employees so that you can be inclusive of everyone’s unique needs.
4. Create an Environment of Psychological/Psychosocial Safety
A four-year study conducted by Google found that the biggest factor that affects team performance is psychological (or psychosocial) safety. The idea behind psychological safety is that every employee should feel safe to voice their ideas, express themselves, ask questions, offer criticism, and make mistakes without fear of reprisal from managers or colleagues.
By encouraging a culture of psychological safety, you actively encourage employees to bring their full, true selves to their job roles and still feel included and accepted in the workplace. In an organization with a strong psychological culture, nobody is afraid to express who they are or how they feel.
5. Use Organizational Charts & Other Tools for DEI Monitoring
Although your organizational chart might not seem like an obvious tool for furthering DEI efforts, it’s actually a lot more powerful than you may think. An organizational chart framework that’s up-to-date with employee information such as gender identity enables human resources teams to monitor DEI by serving as a credible data point.
What’s more, an organizational chart that’s kept updated in real-time provides HR teams with complete visibility over your changing workforce and the ability to look at the whole organization in real-time in a way that’s not possible when using legacy technologies, trawling through your HR data, or using spreadsheets.
With the right organizational chart tool like Organimi and features like ‘Community Build’, which allows employees to fill out and add their own role cards to a chart, it’s possible to collect a wide range of DEI metrics by giving employees the option to provide critical information like their gender identity and sexual orientation. Data can then be accessed on-demand by HR leaders and used to measure DEI program performance, plan DEI initiatives, keep stakeholders informed of DEI progress, and more.
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