by Shayne Thomas
21 Apr 2021
HR Plays a Critical Role in the DEI&B Movement
3 ways HR leaders can make diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging part of their company’s permanent cultural fabric
It doesn’t seem all that long ago when the combination of ‘diversity and inclusion’ was the new, shiny trend being championed by pretty much every talent, leadership, and organizational development team across the country. But a lot has changed since then.
Today, the humble beginnings of diversity and inclusion have blossomed into a much broader mandate that now encompasses diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging—or DEI&B, for short.
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at the important role that HR leaders play in making DEI&B both a force and a reality in the workplace, now and for years to come.
HR leaders must bring DEI&B to life in the workplace
According to OneDigital, “DEI&B is about the success of your business and, quite frankly, doing the right thing...prioritizing having a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization where every employee, at every level of the organization, knows they can bring their whole self to work.”
But this doesn’t just happen naturally within organizations. Every business needs someone to not only lead the charge towards making DEI&B an indelible part of a company’s fabric but to ensure that it doesn’t get pushed down to the bottom of the priority list either.
As Torin Ellis explained in the ‘Equality, Social Justice, and Inclusion 2021’ episode of the Geeks, Geezers & Googlization Show, “The reason no real change has been made is not because it’s impossible, but because it hasn’t been made a top priority.” He goes on to say that many businesses think that simply offering things like unconscious bias training (and the like) gives them the authority to tick the DEI&B box. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Creating a truly inclusive organization, on all fronts, requires mindfulness and intention.
So, to help you on your own DEI&B journey, be sure to do these three things:
1. Make DEI&B a part of your company’s overall strategy
If your organization views DEI&B merely as tactics to cross off a to-do list, then it’s time to shift your perspective. Just because you have implemented mandatory unconscious bias training for all employees or because you offer a number of employee resource groups (ERGs) isn’t a strategy. It’s just a set of tactics.
What you need to do is work with your senior leadership team and other key stakeholders to build a cohesive and holistic strategy, from the ground up, that positions DEI&B as a year-round company priority. Becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization, one that supports a true sense of belonging for all employees, isn’t a short-term goal. Instead, you need to think about the long-term and create a roadmap of aggressive goals to ensure that DEI&B never becomes an afterthought or gets foreshadowed by other company priorities.
Pro-Tip: During all-hands meetings or via company-wide communications, be sure to talk openly and often about your DEI&B goals, how you’re making progress towards achieving them, and how it plays a role in your company’s forward-looking vision. The more that employees hear about what you’re doing to create a more inclusive workplace, the more likely they’ll get on board for being an active part of that long-term vision.
2. Use HR tech to eliminate unconscious bias
No amount of training can eliminate the unconscious bias that exists within us. After all, as humans, we oftentimes are pre-wired with certain beliefs, attitudes, and values. Obviously, training can help us be more mindful and aware of our biases—and give us the tools to keep them in check as much as possible—but sometimes we need a little extra help to keep us honest. This is where HR tech comes into play and comes to the rescue.
As Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst at RedThread said, “Today's technologies can help organizations look at differences in inclusion, engagement, and belonging across key demographic groups—including intersectional groups, such as Black women—to determine if those groups are having different experiences in organizations. Other technologies can give managers feedback on how they're communicating with their team members—and if there are differences by demographic type.” Not only can this technology clue us into disparities between different groups of people within organizations, but it can also provide deeper insights into workplace dynamics that we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to see or detect on our own.
This is a game-changer because it can help us identify and understand where gaps in inclusion and opportunity exist within organizations. For example, in the context of recruiting, studies have shown that job applicants with African-American-sounding names are more than twice as likely to receive a call from a recruiter if they’ve submitted a “whitened” resume (compared to candidates who openly reveal their race or ethnic identity). HR tech can help avoid human bias here by scanning resumes to pick out the candidates who are most qualified for an open job regardless of their race, gender, or other characteristics that might make a recruiter think twice.
Knowing that unconscious bias is difficult for humans to eliminate 100% on their own, HR tech can help provide an objective lens at every touchpoint along the talent management spectrum.
3. Bring empathy back into the workplace
People want to feel safe, secure, and supported when they come to work. The workplace not only needs to support productivity, but it also needs to create a space where employees can develop, grow, and learn over time and managers can have open and honest conversations with their teams about what success looks like today, tomorrow, and well into the future. In other words, the workplace needs to be infused with empathy, kindness, understanding, and support. And it needs to be demonstrated by everyone, from senior leaders all the way down.
This is actually the easiest part of building an organization that champions DEI&B at every turn because it’s simply about being human and treating everyone with the respect they deserve.
Ready to lead the DEI&B charge in your organization?
The world is a crazy place today. The last thing we need is for the workplace to reverberate with all that chaotic and angry energy. As HR leaders, you have an opportunity to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace that gives each employee a sense of belonging. Your company needs you to take charge, transforming DEI&B from a list of tactics into a foundational strategy that will undoubtedly benefit both your business and its employees for years to come.