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Recruiting & Sourcing

Examining Your Talent Strategy Through a DE&I Lens

October 22, 2020
8 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


As we continue through 2020, it’s become clear that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I or DEI) should be an imperative part of your talent management strategy. Viewing your talent strategy through this lens is not only the right thing to do for your employees, it’s also the right thing to do for your business.

We have been studying how DE&I impacts the HR industry and how to start conversations within the workplace around DE&I tactics and expectations. At ClearCompany, our aim is to help our clients obtain their own visions by providing the necessary tools to hire, retain, and engage more A Players. And while we are not experts in DE&I strategy, we want to provide organizations with the best resources and research on the topic to help them achieve this critical mission.

Here, we present you with industry-leading ideas, trends, and learnings we’ve amassed on our own journey to better diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can find additional DEI resources here.

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

We’ve seen companies show their support for DE&I through email marketing and social media, many going as far as setting goals in hiring or growth to tackle the issues head-on. But how do we go beyond words to actions and meaningfully foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplace culture — especially with many organizations working remotely for the foreseeable future?

DE&I is especially imperative for talent acquisition teams and managers due to its impact on employees. Employees need to feel valued and affirmed, and recruiters, managers, and HR professionals must do the exploratory work of honoring differences and instilling their colleagues and leadership with principles that include everyone.

#DEI should be an imperative part of your talent management strategy. Check out these tips from @ClearCompany for re-examining your DE+I efforts:

Many employers are taking a closer look at their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in order to achieve a culture that values diversity and is inclusive to employees of all backgrounds.

But what exactly is the difference between diversity, equity, and inclusion?

  • Diversity is achieving a plurality of identities — like race, gender, age, professional background, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. Having a diverse group of employees, however, does not inherently mean you have also achieved equity or inclusion.
  • Equity is ensuring that everyone has equal access to the same opportunities and resources. Advantages and barriers exist in the workplace, and we can begin the process of equity by acknowledging them and making a commitment to correct and address the imbalance. This can be done through auditing equipment, assigning mentors, launching employee pulse surveys, and more.
  • Inclusion is when different identities feel valued, heard, and welcome in the workplace. Does everyone in your organization feel like they have input or can speak up when they have an idea? Some companies have spent lots of money and time building a diverse workforce, only for their minority employees to still feel marginalized despite having been specifically invited to be. Inclusion ensures that underrepresented groups have a seat at the table and that they’re heard when they speak up.

According to longtime DE&I educator Verna Myers:

“Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

The Strategic Advantage of Diversity

The Why of DE&I is clear from a human perspective: It’s the right thing to do. But for many companies, understanding the Why from a business perspective is crucial to getting executive buy-in, funding, and the ability to plan the How.

The strategic advantage of DE&I gets easier when you look at the numbers.

Discrimination and lack of diversity are a real issue.

According to Industry Leader Glassdoor:

  • 34% have witnessed or experienced ageism at work
  • 33% have witnessed or experienced gender discrimination at work
  • 30% have witnessed or experienced racism at work
  • 24% have witnessed or experienced LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace

And the higher up we look at an organization, the larger the gender and ethnicity gap gets. Of C-level executives:

  • 68% are white men
  • 18% are white women
  • 10% are men of color
  • 4% are women of color

More than one-third of companies don’t have a single woman on their executive teams. This is despite the fact that female CEOs saw a 20% increase in stock price momentum and female CFOs saw a 6% increase in profitability and 8% larger stock returns.

The benefits of having a more diverse C-Suite and workforce continue:

  • Ethnically diverse leadership teams are 36% more likely to be profitable (source)
  • The most ethnically and culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to experience higher profits. (source)
  • Companies whose boards are in the top quartile of gender diversity are 28% more likely than their peers to outperform financially. (source)

According to widespread and peer-reviewed research across multiple industries and using multiple indicators, more diverse teams breed more innovation — people from different backgrounds and perspectives help challenge the norms, uncover more creative solutions, and shine a light on blind spots. A more global view of the problem leads to a more competitive solution. Increasing diversity is not only a talent strategy — it’s a financial strategy, too.

Beyond profitability, diversity in the workplace is a reflection of our population. The best way to attract diverse talent is to ensure they’re represented within your company. An applicant who arrives for an interview but finds no one at the organization who is like them or has similar experiences to them may feel dissuaded from taking a position.

An organization with a focus on hiring underrepresented groups has access to a wider pool of A Players and is more likely to receive a ‘yes’ when an offer is extended. In fact, 67% of candidates say that diversity and inclusion is an important factor in their decision to accept a job offer.

@ClearCompany analyzes ways you can ensure your #DEI program has a solid foundation and grows with your #workforce. Read more:

The Strategic Advantage of Inclusion

Hiring across age groups, gender identities, socio-economic status, and ethnicities is the first step — but, as we stated above, it doesn’t equate to a robust DEI program alone. Inclusion ensures that all groups are not just present, but are offered a seat at the table.

“It’s important for leaders to listen to employees—especially those who don’t have access or who come from marginalized backgrounds. If not, they may privilege the voices of those who have access or power when making decisions.”

— Stephen Pham, director of organizational learning at The Learning Accelerator

Ask yourself these questions as you begin to round out your Inclusion policies.

  • How many people of color are in leadership roles?
  • How many women are in STEM roles?
  • Do you have a diverse steering committee?
  • Do all groups have input in meetings?
  • Do you solicit the opinions of everyone in creating a workplace that is well-suited to the needs of all groups?

If all of your employees don’t feel welcome to share their differing perspectives, experiences, and ideas, do you really have an equitable or inclusive workforce?

The Way Toward DE&I Programs That Work

Inclusive workplace culture is a rich workplace culture — one where productivity and innovation soars. This is a double-sided benefit. Not only does it boost morale and productivity, it also boosts your reputation — attracting more A Players for future positions. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where top talent wants to come to your company knowing that they’ll feel welcome and valuable. And while 55% of people agree that their organization has policies that promote diversity and inclusion, there are ways to ensure your DEI program has a solid foundation and can grow with your workforce.

Yejin Lee, a nonprofit professional and career coach based in New York City, writes some guidelines for the Idealist, paraphrased here from Tips for Starting a DEI Committee:

    • Include a diverse group of employees. A diversity of identities leads to the inclusion of various viewpoints—and ultimately a more thoughtful and equitable approach.
    • Establish clear goals, roles, and relationships.
    • Set boundaries. Institutions can rely too heavily on volunteers. Anticipate this fatigue and define the terms of your working group.
    • Secure an ally with decision-making power. While participation in something like a DEI committee can be empowering, it is also important to note that most organizational power is granted to those with decision-making influence.
    • Gather data. To promote the longevity of this committee, it is important to collect information on people’s DEI experiences.
    • Co-create and commit to group agreements. Because a DEI committee will inevitably broach challenging topics, it can be helpful to establish group agreements.
    • Secure third-party support.

How Equity Holds it All Together

Inclusion is a critical component of DEI where many employers have previously fallen short, and the modern workplace has been taking drastic measures to make itself more inclusive. Today, a new focus is on equity.

We understand now that many groups are systematically provided better access to the resources and support that makes their best work possible. Employers need to ensure that once a new employee crosses the threshold, they’re on equal ground as everyone else in the office.

Diversity is being invited to the dance, inclusion is being asked to dance, and equity is making sure they have dancing shoes. Everyone needs a chance to contribute and participate — an equal opportunity to produce a common outcome. Two kids may be assigned online homework, but if one child is doing their homework on a flip phone and one a laptop, can you expect the work to be the same? Equity ensures that both kids are sent home with a laptop. The same should be applied in the workplace.

Without prioritizing equity, employers can’t expect their diversity and inclusion measures to come to fruition. You’ve chosen a candidate because they were the best for the job — if you want them to perform to their highest potential, it’s imperative that they have access and agency to utilize critical resources.

  • Are they unable to stay late when they need to because of childcare obligations? Extend your daycare program.
  • Do they have a long commute that’s a burden on their budget, causing them stress on the job? Subsidize their public transit pass.
  • Can they not afford the software training that will help them take their skills to the next level? Pay for the class.

Helping your employees get access to — and feel comfortable asking for — the most productive resources pays back into the organization. Investing in your employees is an investment in the company.

Head to ClearCompany’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources page for ideas and information on how to incorporate DE&I in your talent management.

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