Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: From the Inside Out
Imagine you’ve been invited to a party. No one talks to you, you don’t get asked to dance and you find out you were only invited to fill out numbers. This is a far too common experience for diverse talent.
Many organisations are stepping up and becoming more aware of why diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are so important for employee experiences and for business. However, there are still elements of tick boxing and even worse, seeing DEI as a series of trends. Whilst it is important for organisations to have one eye on society and an active part in the discourse around social inequality and discrimination, it’s equally important to pay the same attention to what’s happening on the inside. If organisations solely focus on how they are perceived from the outside then there is a risk of DEI strategies and actions having no authenticity or relevance for your employees, your customers and ultimately your business.
Organisations need to move past the idea of diversity as numbers and inclusion as words. Whilst committing to increasing representation through clear measurements is crucial, making sure you have a work environment that welcomes diverse talent should be the starting point for organisations. There has been some improvement in organisations transparently communicating DEI data, such as binary gender mix, pay gap reporting and even ethnic and disability statistics. However, there is a real sense that organisations are fixated by these numbers, constantly trying to improve them to show the world that they are taking DEI seriously, but wouldn’t it be interesting if alongside this data, organisations shared the identity dimensions and numbers of people leaving the workforce?
“Awareness is key when it comes to DEI. There should be a continued stream of information educating employees to ensure that people have DEI at the forefront of everything they do. By doing this you are reinforcing your companies DEI values” – Meena Ladwa Talent Acquisition Specialist at TCEG
There needs to be a focus on developing leadership teams to be authentic, visible and accountable, creating a culture that is truly inclusive and accessible, communications that are transparent and two-way, and most importantly, active listening programmes that engage all employees and capture meaningful insights. All of this means that the diverse talent you’re trying to attract isn’t just a number that moves through a revolving door, straight into other organisations that make them feel included and that they belong.
So, what does attracting diverse talent from the inside out look like?
Take some time to reflect and engage your employees
The first step should be a critical review of your organisation’s culture, processes and leadership team. This will mean listening to your people, how they are feeling and the changes they want to see, creating psychological safe spaces for them to feed back and help shape key areas of focus.
Define areas of focus and identify measurements
Now it’s time to use the valuable insights to define where you should place your efforts, identify quick wins and map out plans for long-term change. It might be around making processes more equitable, it could be more awareness around what diversity and representation really mean, or even inclusive leadership training across your organisation. Each focus area will need some form of measurement to track your progress, which should be communicated back to your organisation.
Review how you are seeking diverse talent
Now it’s time to move towards the outside, working with Human Resources and Talent Attraction teams to look at the talent attraction process in detail. Reviewing recruitment partnerships, how and where you are looking for talent, making sure your communications are inclusive, and that your interviewing process is equitable and accessible for everyone is essential to attracting diverse talent.
Review, review and (you guessed it…) review!
The work doesn’t stop there. Once you have put these plans into action and are working to bring diverse talent into your organisation, it’s important to constantly review your progress. This means more listening, especially to those that have joined your company recently – hold regular sessions with new recruits to capture new perspectives and how to improve the ‘inside’ of your organisation. Monitor those key performance indicators (KPIs) and even start to think about how you communicate them externally, it needs to more than just the numbers, but the actions you are taking to improve them.
It’s not a quick and easy task – it will take time and you will certainly face some interesting truths about your organisation (things you might not necessarily think to be true), but the above outlines the key steps you can take to make sure you are ready to welcome the diverse talent you seek and authentically represent the world we live and work in. If you have the resource to engage external agencies, then it is a wise move to make sure you are making improvements free from bias, creating a safe space for employees (and leaders) to share honest opinions, and even take advantage of out outside perspective of your organisation.