Companies should do more to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring and in the workplace.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging has become a priority for organizational leaders in recent years. Driven by external events, including social unrest after the murder of George Floyd and pressure from employees to address racial inequities, many companies made public commitments to transform their approach to DEIB.
According to Mercer's 2022 Global Talent Trends Study: The Rise of the Relatable Organization, more than one-quarter of organizations created a multiyear, public DEI strategy after the events of 2020. For many, that meant adding a chief diversity officer to the C-suite. Mercer reports that one-third of companies added a role dedicated to DEI efforts, and 44 percent plan to add someone in 2022. Others crafted diversity councils to lead enterprise-wide initiatives.
Some organizations launched new training programs on topics such as implicit bias and microaggressions. In its DEI&B Education for Employees report, ATD Research found that three-quarters of companies are providing some sort of DEIB education to employees, and 39 percent have been doing so since 2019.
According to McLean & Company's 2022 Trends Report, companies that take a proactive approach to creating an inclusive environment are 2.4 times more likely to be effective at providing a positive employee experience. Conversely, organizations not focused on DEIB experience 1.6 times more voluntary turnover.
And ADP found in its annual survey of more than 32,000 workers across 17 countries that three in four respondents would consider looking for a new job if they discovered their company had no diversity and inclusion policy.
"Workers are signaling a willingness to walk away if employers fall short when it comes to creating a diverse workforce and treating them fairly. Diversity, equity and inclusion is therefore fast becoming a make-or-break issue," ADP wrote in its report.
More is needed
Has the corporate world made any real headway on its path to being more equitable and inclusive? Korn Ferry queried nearly 5,000 global DEI specialists, HR practitioners, and business leaders to assess progress.
As expected, it confirmed that the majority of organizations report that they accelerated their DEI initiatives during the previous 12 months—two out of five of them significantly. It also found that only 43 percent of organizations are focusing their efforts on developing equitable talent processes; less than one-third are purposely creating diverse and inclusive teams to improve performance.
ADP's research tells a similar story, reporting that 34 percent of employers may talk about the importance of a DEI policy, but they don't in fact have one. Likewise, Mercer found that only one in three leaders has DEI metrics tied to their own performance ratings. And little more than half of the organizations ATD Research surveyed said they have a dedicated budget for their DEIB education. Thirty percent allocate less than $100 per employee per year.
Clearly, DEIB efforts aren't where they need to be. Only half of ADP's respondents think diversity and inclusion has improved in their organizations, and one in 10 believes that the situation has worsened.
"Companies are focusing on the basics: managing risk from litigation, celebratory events and raising awareness through initiatives like unconscious bias training," says Alina Polonskaia, global leader of Korn Ferry's DEI practice.
She adds that "There's nothing inherently wrong in these practices—they're a useful starting point—but they're not enough. Companies need [to] move faster to the next levels of their DE&I maturity and focus both on structural and behavioral changes to drive meaningful progress."
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