Nearly every company has implemented some form of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the past couple of years, if not before. If you’re working to improve your DEI position, you may be surprised to hear that many companies are struggling with it. Not because of their intentions, they are putting policies in place, it’s through the flawed application and lack of understanding and accountability of executives who put the policies in place.
According to an HBR article by Evelyn R. Carter, “If those people don’t fully understand what problem new processes or policies are solving, they won’t understand their role in bringing those plans to life — or how to hold themselves and others accountable.” A study conducted in 2016 found that when you only have a single female or person of color in your pool of candidates, statistically they have an almost zero percent chance of being hired. Yet, when you have two or more females or people of color, the odds are 79 and 194 times greater of one of those candidates being hired.
When hiring, Ms. Carter recommends looking at the data you have available, the changes you’d like to see, and the accountability plans for stakeholders. If you don’t have data around your hiring process or a clear picture of what you want to achieve long term, it is far more difficult to understand and interpret your efficacy.
The most challenging aspect of an effective DEI program is the accountability of those who are putting the programs in place. The following framework can support your DEI hiring as well as performance management, retention, and compensation.
Companies are truly looking to improve DEI in their organization, which means making changes to the existing culture, and as we know change is difficult. Explain why you need to make changes before you tell people what you expect of them. According to the article, “People are more likely to persist in the face of change when they are intrinsically motivated. So, highlight how the changes you are proposing are personally relevant to the leaders and to the company.” When you share the challenges, you are being transparent in how some processes are undermining your DEI initiatives, and help get others engaged to improve your position.
Members of any organization from entry-level employees up through senior management take more ownership of an initiative when they are included in the decision-making process. Don’t make the mistake of introducing the company’s DEI plan without inviting feedback, taking it to heart, and making iterations on the plan. People will more readily adopt changes they helped shape, “…highlight the problems that exist and potential ways to overcome them, and ask for their input and feedback. This will help you design a series of accountability strategies that allow you to ensure your new process has the intended impact.”
As we noted, change management is difficult. One way to help is to provide recognition, support, and encouragement when the process goes well. One suggestion is to create a recurring debrief session that enables people to share results and insights. Remind everyone you understand that this is not an easy process and that you are there to support them as you work towards your DEI goals. When people are struggling with the changes, ask them about the challenges they are seeing. “Emphasize a growth mindset, reminding them that learning often yields mistakes and failure, but that it is net positive over time. Of course, if someone refuses to change after subsequent nudges, it’s time to ask deeper questions about why this person is behaving in a way that runs counter to your DEI values.”
If you have questions about creating a culture of DEI accountability or you’re looking for DEI executive leadership, send us a note.