Report shows obvious benefits of DEI initiatives

Expert shares best practices to help companies engage employees at all levels in DEI efforts

Report shows obvious benefits of DEI initiatives

Many employers are now enjoying the fruit of their labour when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), according to a recent report.

Overall, employers are benefitting in terms of retention and recruitment, productivity and business success, reports TEKsystems.

For example, 83% of respondents to the survey say DEI initiatives made the company a better place to work (46% strongly agree, 37% somewhat agree) while 75% say it’s increased productivity (35% strongly agree, 40% somewhat agree).

Source: TEKsystems

“People want to work with individuals that make them better, and individuals that help them accomplish their goals,” says Franklin Reed, TEKsystems’ executive director of global inclusion, diversity and equity, in talking with Canadian HR Reporter.

“And the case that more diverse thinking and perspectives and backgrounds put you in the best position to succeed, that case doesn't have to be made anymore. There are not just quantitative data; there are people's lived experiences of working on teams that reflect that, that make that stat come to life.”

And workers from marginalized groups are also benefiting employers’ increased focus on diversity. For example, 88 per cent of Black IT employees say DEI has made their workplace experience better. Nearly three in five (59 per cent) of women also say DEI made their workplace a better place to work, according to TEKsystems’ survey of 820 IT and HR professionals in Canada and the U.S. conducted in November 2023.

“It's better because we are seeing an increase in representation – although slightly. And so that collective voice… is creating community,” says Reed.

Also, “it is placing a spotlight and some element of responsibility on the organizations themselves,” he says. “That it is their responsibility to create… an environment for people to be able to come in and do their best work.”

Overall, 57 per cent of enterprise decision-makers report their DEI policies are advanced or mature, up from 46 per cent in 2023.

Here’s how to create an inclusive employee benefits program, according to a previous report.

A lot of work still left to do with DEI

Despite the positive numbers, employers still have some work to do to ensure diversity, says Reed.

“I want to be clear that there is still a lot of work to be done, not just for Black employees, but for anyone who is underrepresented in an environment or team.”

A recent report noted that the United Nations’ oversight body will be investigating the Canadian Human Rights Commissions (CHRC) following reports that the Canadian body has discriminated against Black and racialized workers.

Employers who are not putting focus on DEI are missing out on a lot of benefits, says Reed, such as the gains from having diverse workers who are engaged in the workplace, he says.

“When people are more engaged and they are working in an environment where they feel like they can bring their best selves, that's where they bring that discretionary effort.

“It's no secret that almost 80 per cent of employees globally indicate that they feel somewhat to extreme disengagement. The real power of an engaged workforce is that they're thinking and apply more energy” at work, he says.

Companies that don't have a focus or strategy in DEI just don’t see the gains that their counterparts who have that kind of focus or program do, says Reed.

“They're missing out on unrealized gains, and they're missing out on great talent, because the vast majority of the workforce want to work for a company that has some sort of strategy.”

More than half (51 per cent) of racialized people in Canada aged 15 years old or older have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the past five years, according to Statistics Canada (StatCan).

How to make DEI a cultural priority?

To help employers in their DEI journey, Reed shares the following best practices:

  • Look for opportunities to highlight and celebrate the different experiences and perspectives of your team: “The most palatable way to do this is through storytelling. Get to know your teams and ask them to share stories about their experiences,” says Reed.
  • Provide opportunities for people to learn about diversity, and how to mitigate unconscious bias: “Things like microaggressions play in our ability to bring our full selves to the workforce, cultural holidays, and experiences,” he says.
  • Give the DEI responsibility to someone to own: “What gets measured gets done. And what gets done gets reinvested in. And to me, having a person who's responsible for crafting a strategy and driving a strategy is important.”
  • Know and do not be afraid of data: “Without having clarity around what the representation or the experiences look like at various levels, then you really won't know where to apply the appropriate resources,” he says.

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