This is going to be hard hitting on some people, but we need to stop relying on the words Diversity and Inclusion. Why? Because the modern institution of diversity and inclusion allows companies to pat themselves on the back for doing a few things, while allowing them to fall short on the promise they made to minority employees. Simply relying on D&I is limiting us on how we look at recruiting and retaining diverse talent. Although I firmly stand behind the values and meaning surrounding D&I, the institutions companies have created around D&I need to be redefined and expanded to the point where current definitions of diversity and inclusion are considered obsolete.
As an executive recruiter, I specialize in the area of diversity recruiting. However, my goal is for the candidates and clients we match to grow together through their career and business practices. What we've realized is that diversity initiatives alone may not be enough to ensure success. Companies may be able to attract multicultural talent, but when there is no real effort in transforming culture, D&I policies and initiatives that exist to make diverse voices feel valued and respected are bound to fail. Diverse employees will not be able to thrive within the company and will leave the company within a year or two at most. Whereas clients that actively promote, celebrate, and empower diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are where we see our clients and candidates thrive and grow together for years to come.
If the culture isn’t already inclusive, you’re not ready for diversity
When companies start seriously thinking about diversity and inclusion, it is typically an afterthought based on complaints by unhappy employees, or an exodus of minority employees. Even the name “Diversity and Inclusion” seems to imply that the order is diversity THEN inclusion. However, a design set up on securing vast amounts of diversity talent before establishing a culture of inclusivity is already designed to fail. Before companies seek to expand in hiring diverse mindsets, they should observe the diversity that already exists within the office and ensure that inclusive practices already exist within the workplace for current employees (ex: parents, age groups, gender). When the company then seeks to attract new forms of diversity, they can simply expand on those practice already in place and create new policies as needed rather than scrambling to create something from scratch.
‘Diversity first’ puts the burden on minorities to create inclusion
For many companies the reality of ‘diversity first’ has already hit and they are scrambling to create inclusion programs. Unfortunately, this is putting an undue burden on minority employees who have been tasked with either learning to adapt to a non-inclusive environment or with designing inclusion for themselves and others like them in the company. Both of these tasks require minority employees to take on responsibility above and beyond what their job calls for. This can have long lasting effects on their performance, efficiency, and longevity within the company.
D&I means nothing if the corporate system isn’t equitable
Equity within the workplace starts with understanding that there are underlying, and often unacknowledged, biases built within organizations that favor some groups of people over others. Furthermore, equity is acknowledging the role of systematic privilege in the success of some employees over other employees due to underlying biases. Therefore, equitable policies are those that help to bridge the gap between marginalized groups of employees while addressing and eliminating corporate bias by recognizing what was/is needed to be successful based on previous skills, tasks, or abilities. Equitable policies should seek to provide supplemental training for all employees who need to refresh their skills, diversify performance matrix by recognizing multiple forms of success, establish clear promotion tracks to eliminate bias in management, and establish pay brackets across management levels to eliminate wage gaps for similar work.
D&I shouldn’t be limited to a department in Human Resources
When many people think of diversity and inclusion they think it’s admirable, but it’s also not their problem. D&I has been reduced to a department out of HR rather than a movement within the company. In reality, DEI should be an ideology held by all members of the company that affects every business decision from hiring, to expanding a product line, to finalizing a marketing campaign. When D&I is siloed within HR, employees and hiring managers are able to brush it off as a responsibility that only exists for HR when they should be the ones at the forefront to create an inclusive and equitable environment for employees and colleagues.
Diversity is a movement, not a mandate
A movement serves as a force that revolutionizes the values and decision making process of a company, leaving no process untouched. Although hiring multicultural talent is beneficial toward improving diversity of thought, if companies do not take active steps to foster a multicultural movement then diverse thinkers will feel marginalized and excluded, stifling your employee’s ability to fully participate in the culture of the company. Therefore if companies want multicultural talent, they need to take the time and resources to ensure that multiculturalism is fully implemented into the vision and culture of the company to ensure the promise of diversity, inclusion, and equity is fulfilled.
The problem with modern D&I is that companies will stop at creating a D&I department thinking that is enough without changing company culture, practices, and values. The movement toward valuing diversity has to extend further than the work that has already been done in modern day D&I departments and needs to extend far past diversity and inclusion to ensure an equitable work place as well. Companies need to step away from the siloed D&I model in HR and begin transitioning a DEI corporate culture that transforms the values held within the company, within management, and within employees. It isn’t until we embrace the movement that is diversity and ensure the success of all voices that we can really begin to say that the American corporation has succeeded in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
You might be wondering why an Executive Recruiter is so hung up on the DEI issue, it is because we want our clients to thrive and they will thrive when they set themselves up for it by incorporating a successful DEI process in which the STAR Diverse Talent we recruit for them will shine and be able to bring all they have to the company including their diverse thought process, ideologies and new product ideas to serve other markets. This is only part of a 30 page guide which will be made available to prospective clients within the month on how to ensure DEI. If you would like to receive this guide the second it comes out, please sign up at www.dcaprosearch.com/diversity-guide-signup.html