Amid a shift to remote and hybrid working arrangements, communication is key to resolving the disconnect between managers and employees on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, says Meisha-Ann Martin, senior director of people analytics and research at Workhuman.
“Since people aren’t in the office as often as before, they aren’t necessarily able to see [first-hand] efforts to increase representation. The organization knows they’re doing it, but the employees don’t know.”
Workhuman’s recent survey found a third (35 per cent) of managers said DEI teams are a high priority within their organization, compared to just 15 per cent of employees. Similarly, while 88 per cent of managers said leaders within their organization frequently communicate about DEI, only 57 per cent of employees agreed.
“[The findings] underscore the need to ensure that when [employers are] doing diversity initiatives, it’s important to incorporate those programs with a listening strategy,” says Martin. “Far too often, employers are doing things for people without getting the perspective of those who are impacted by those decisions. . . . [Listening strategies] may not be actioned consistently enough and that fuels a large part of the disconnect we see between leaders who feel like they’re implementing diversity and employees who feel like they’re receiving diversity.”
The survey also found a third (33 per cent) of employees said they’d consider leaving their current role if their employer doesn’t make noticeable improvements to their DEI strategy within the first half of 2023.
Similarly, a fifth (21 per cent) of employees said candidates passing on job opportunities due to a lack of DEI strategy have forced leaders to take action, while another 21 per cent said they’re questioning the intentions of company leadership around social justice issues.
“[Employers] need to think about someone who’s just looking at the company initially and trying to figure out whether they want to join,” says Martin. “The leadership team and who [applicants] are interviewing with is important, as well as the company’s stance on diversity.”
In addition, employers can enhance their talent attraction and retention efforts by disclosing DEI goals and strategies, she adds. “These candidates are doing their research and diversity matters to more people than perhaps one would think. We need to meet the needs of individuals — that’s where inclusion happens. Not everyone is the same, but everyone wants to be appreciated, included and do meaningful work.”