Five Ways to Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

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Home > Articles > Five Ways to Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

 Five Ways to Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Cecelia Herbert | Today's Manager
December 15, 2020

​It is important for DEI to be part of the workplace. Ms Herbert suggests five ways for you to do so.

While diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) have long been a staple of many workplace programmes, the reality is that until this year progress had been slow.

However, after the dramatic shifts in the global socio-political landscape this year there is much cause for optimism. Globally, we have seen a tremendous increase in focus and energy to create the diverse and inclusive workplaces we have long aspired for.

But to continue the momentum, it’s critical we address one of the most significant things that has held us back. For too long leaders and individuals have wanted to take the “crash diet” approach to DEI—searching for the one big thing that will create significant change. This is not the answer.

To drive real, effecting, and sustainable change requires altering many habits and norms, sustained over a long period of time. And central to this ability is understanding what is happening in your organisation, and why it is happening.

This is where experience management (XM) technology and practices have a critical role to play. XM technologies help businesses uncover insights and direct leaders toward the high impact actions they can take. Ultimately, helping close experience gaps for all employees and creating diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Listen Often. Listen Closely
As part of the journey to implementing effective DEI programmes, businesses need to transform the way they capture feedback from people across different backgrounds.

Currently, many companies look at DEI through a standalone assessment annually. While this gives great insight, alone it does not sufficiently equip managers, leaders, and HR professionals with the insights they need to take action day to day. Real change will continue to be extremely slow if DEI only has a once-a-year focus, reinforcing the belief it is an isolated initiative leaders concentrate on only at specific times of the year.

At Qualtrics, we believe integrating DEI practices into your current employee listening programmes is the most effective way to change the narrative and make real progress. By increasing the frequency of DEI insights your leaders received reinforces their continuing focus and impact of their efforts.

For example, with many companies targeting a diverse talent pipeline seeking feedback from both successful and unsuccessful candidates during the hiring process is essential to optimising the process. This extends to understanding the onboarding and exit experience for underrepresented groups and their access to opportunities, through to using your annual employee engagement or pulse survey to understand the needs and opinions of diverse employees.

DEI practices are relevant in each of these listening opportunities—and many more—but it’s important to remember that the voice of underrepresented employees needs to be consciously sought out, or it will be hidden by the average.

Integrating DEI Practices into Every EX Touchpoint
At any point in the employee journey—starting with looking at the job—experience gaps between different employee groups may be found.  

While it does happen, systemic inequity is rarely caused by a single dramatic event in the employee journey. It is the cumulative impact of bias and micro inequities over many moments that add up over time to create significant gaps in experience.  

This is why all employee data should be analysed with a DEI lens that will shine a light on these moments. In isolation, these gaps may not appear significant, but the cumulative impact over time can drive unequal outcomes if they occur to the same people repeatedly. 

        “Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can” —Arthur Ashe, the first black tennis player to win the  
        singles title at Wimbledon and civil rights activistsingles title at Wimbledon and civil rights activist

Despite the focus, the reality is many companies do not have a dedicated DEI team or highly resourced People Analytics teams at their disposal. However, as discussed applying DEI principles to HR practices already happening is a great start to better understand and act on the experiences of underrepresented employees. 

Here are some tips on how to get started with employee data you might already have.

Tip #1:  Collect Consistent Diversity Data 
Set a standard for how diversity is defined and measured in your organisation, sharing this with your colleagues to ensure everyone is using the same categories and descriptions. For example, some employee data sets may use binary ‘male/female’ gender and others collecting non-binary gender identity data.  
Tip #2: Better Understand the Candidate Experience
Collect voluntary self-identification diversity data at the job application stage to better understand the candidate experience across different demographic groups.  Use this data to take action and adapt your talent acquisition practices to vitalise a diverse pipeline of talent.

Tip #3: Set Everyone Up for Success
Onboarding is one of the most important times to set new employees up for success in their roles and a critical touchpoint to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to thrive in your organisation. Use consistent diversity metrics to better understand the onboarding experience from underrepresented or marginalised backgrounds, and how this continues across their employee journey. Integrate questions around inclusion and belonging in your onboarding feedback survey, as coming from an underrepresented or marginalised background can shape the onboarding experience.

Tip #4: Identify Common Reasons for Leaving
Check your exit feedback to see if there are recurring themes for different groups of employees. The loss of critical talent is something that many organisations grapple with. Connected to your attrition data, exit surveys provide insights as to why some people may be leaving quicker or at higher rates than others.

Tip #5: Apply a Diversity Lens to Any Employee Listening Points
Gaps in experience happen throughout the employee lifecycle. Think about moments that matter, such as promotions, performance management, returning from parental leave, or engaging in development opportunities. Experience gaps between different employees can be found in these moments that matter. Applying a diversity lens in each of these listening opportunities can support a consistent, systemic view of the DEI experience in your organisation.

XM: The Framework for Positive Change
The events of 2020 have continually proven people want to be listened to, and they want to see action. Building a DEI workplace will not be achieved with a single change—it requires many small changes, sustained over a long period of time.
Today, there are tools and systems available—like the Qualtrics XM Platform—that make it quick and easy to take action on what matters to all of their employees, and create the DEI workplaces and the many benefits this brings.

Dr Cecelia Herbert, Lead Employee Experience Scientist, APJ, Qualtrics: Dr Cecelia leads the Employee Experience Advisory Services for Qualtrics in Asia-Pacific. Her focus is to create workplaces that work for everyone, by empowering organisations across the globe to measure and take action on employee feedback. A Doctor of Organisational Psychology, Dr Cecelia is an Employee Experience Scientist with 15+ years of experience as a business partner, academic, researcher and consultant. Prior to Qualtrics, she led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion across multiple functions in APAC at Google.




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Today's Manager Issue 4, 2020

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