Many employers failing to follow through on DEI plans: Report

Executives must lead by example and 'remain actively involved'

Many employers failing to follow through on DEI plans: Report

Despite employers planning to make their workplace more diverse through different programs, many have failed to follow through with their plans, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in partnership with the Harvard Business Review.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of HR and business executives admit their organization is, at best, only somewhat successful in its attempts to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

“True progress toward organizational DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] goals requires steady commitment, communication and representation across all levels of the company,” says Johnny Taylor, SHRM's president and CEO. “The only way for executives to build a workforce that accurately reflects today’s society is to lead by example and remain actively involved at every step along the journey.’”

More than eight in 10 (84 per cent) of Canadians expect CEOs to do something in response to systemic racism and racial injustice, according to a previous report.

The survey split respondents into three categories – “leaders,” “followers” and “laggards” based on how they rated their organizations on DEI progress. 

 And while there is visible executive support for efforts to improve DEI at leader organizations (77 per cent) this falls considerably at laggard organizations (34 per cent). Half of the laggard organizations surveyed say their efforts are hindered by noncommittal leadership, with 72 per cent reporting lack of senior-level diversity as an additional obstacle, says SHRM.

Also, 80 per cent of U.S. employees believe addressing racial injustice and equity is a central responsibility of a CEO and management. However, more than a quarter say company leadership has done little to nothing to actively address these issues in the past year, according to another report.

Tracking diversity

DEI leaders were at least twice as likely to track equity in compensation, promotions, performance development and feedback, mentorship programs, and access to growth opportunities compared to laggards.

Respondents cite hiring (74 per cent), recruiting (64 per cent) and retention (47 per cent) as the top areas in which to track diversity, found SHRM’s survey of 1,115 HR and business executives.

Among respondents who track diversity, 45 per cent of leaders do so for development opportunities compared with only 10 per cent of laggards.

Leader organizations are measuring progress toward diversity goals more frequently and were almost twice as likely (47 per cent) as laggards to share metrics with all employees, according to the report.

Employers are just not getting it right when it comes to recruiting diverse talent, says one expert.

Personalizing equal opportunity hiring statements is one way to attract diverse talent, says Mikaela Kiner, CEO of Reverb, an HR services firm.

“People do read it, and sticking with the legal jargon can be off-putting. A generic statement doesn’t say anything positive about your brand, and it doesn’t demonstrate a true commitment to diversity. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to update your statement, making it more reflective of your culture and values,” she says.

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