When employees can’t bring their whole self to work, they leave. Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) workplace is imperative to increasing employee engagement and retention. Also vital: talking to your employees about it
“Black and Hispanic workers are more likely than white workers to say they’re actively looking for new employment opportunities,” according to SHRM.
This means that organizations are still failing to meet the needs of all their employees. Or worse, maybe no tangible follow-up DEI initiatives have happened after a public display of supporting people of color. Whatever the reason, the good news is that there’s a wealth of information on how to get started. As a result, you can create an inclusive company that anyone can feel comfortable and proud to work for.
Focusing on DEI
Firstly, a good DEI retention plan should start at the beginning of an employee’s lifecycle. According to the experts at The Diversity Movement, a DEI training and certification agency, that can be as early as the interview process, an employee’s first day on the job, or even accessibility to onboarding documents.
With a vast range of individual and family situations, it’s essential for you also to show diversity and inclusion through your benefits. Your employee benefits should align with your DEI goals. Look at your benefits annually and ask yourself if they reflect your workforce’s needs. Additionally, keep disabilities, gender, sex, age, and family dynamics in mind.
“Employees who differ from most of their colleagues in religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, and generation often hide important parts of themselves at work for fear of negative consequences. This makes it difficult to know how these employees feel and what they want, which makes them vulnerable to leaving their organizations. The key to inclusion is understanding who your employees really are.” – Harvard Business Review
Another factor to consider is employee pay. As a general rule, you should set pay based on years of experience, education, job performance, the number of employees managed, professional accreditations, industry, and the job at hand. Don’t consider gender, age, race, nationality, or disability (among other protected areas) when setting an employee’s pay rate.
Improvements to consider
Secondly, the best way to get a pulse and begin creating an environment that lets your people be their authentic selves is to analyze your workforce. You can help identify areas of improvement by sending out surveys, hiring a consultant to conduct focus groups, or simply having one-on-one conversations, says Tracey Hixon, Nextep’s Director of Happiness.
“It can be easy to think everything is fine and be complacent, but if you want to be a place where people want to work, you can’t be passive about uplifting the underrepresented,” she explains. “Having good intentions isn’t enough. You have to take action.”
It’s also okay to take your efforts one step at a time, but make sure you have an ongoing plan of action, she adds.
Finally, here are some of Nextep’s DEI efforts:
- Pulled pay data to ensure employees were being paid fairly for the job they do and in comparison to their coworkers.
- Hired a DEI consultant to review efforts and plans, provide insight on potential blind spots, and facilitate 2-3 key training sessions.
- Dug into benefits and made sure they were equitable for people in different family structures and with additional needs.
- Required recruiting and corporate HR teams to complete a DEI certification course.
- Openly asked for feedback in surveys and in-person, emphasizing psychological safety for responders. We made sure people had multiple avenues for discussing DEI.
- Changed recruiting and hiring practices like adding bilingual candidates’ preferences and empowered recruiters to interview non-traditional talent.
- Created a diversity and inclusion committee to spotlight non-profits/organizations in the community focused on racial equity. We also donated to these programs and provided employees with paid time off to help support initiatives.
Getting Started on DEI
Ready to start cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace? We’ve got you covered. Check out our DEI roadmap for your next step.
Want to read more? Check out our other articles in The Great Retention series!