Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are topics we cannot ignore. Recent events have made it clear to businesses and organizations that there is a need for everyone to take an internal review of their DEI practices, and strengthen as appropriate. What’s under review? Everything – the entire employee life cycle, from recruitment & hiring practices, to organizational culture, to employee exit.
Human Resources holds an essential role in creating, engaging, and committing to making an equitable workplace. In this Astronology® we will review several steps to take today and tomorrow, to build and maintain your organization’s DEI.
A 2017 Forbes article by contributing writer Maynard Webb suggests the following steps when auditing and enhancing your organization’s hiring practices:
• Think about the company you want to build, not just the one to two spots that are open – Webb explains, “We often get caught in the short-term need to add someone with a functional skill, like project management. We need to also consider how each person adds to the overall diversity of approaches and experiences that will help guide the team through growth and challenges.”
• Prioritize the skills you are looking for before you interview – Having your criteria agreed on before recruiting helps you to evaluate candidates fairly and effectively, especially those with different but equal skills.
• Disregard unnecessary criteria that can promote bias – Try not to have strict hiring requirements. Examples of overly demanding requirements include having precise expectations on number of years of experience or requiring that candidates be graduates from specific high-profile universities. These requirements can limit your candidate pool and limit quality candidates due to privilege.
• Remove subconscious biases from the hiring process – While we may not intend to be biased, we all have hidden biases, due to our cultural shaping and experiences in life. To combat this, Webb suggests testing job specifications and ensuring that any postings or communications do not appeal to just one group of people. This means being mindful of word choices.
• Employ a diverse set of interviewers – Not only will using a diverse set of interviewers allow for different perspectives, candidates are more open to joining organizations when they see employees that resemble them.
• Reconsider how you define diversity – While current events have generated a renewed focus on racial diversity, gender diversity has been a long talked about topic. Other elements of diversity to consider include age, sexual preference, location, socio-economic background, political affiliation, veteran status, and even religious affiliation. Your workforce should be free of biases in these categories as well.
• Use data and facts to evaluate candidates the same way – Says Webb, “Create a standard evaluation system and metrics and use them the same way. Some companies remove names and photos before reviewing them, so they are not aware of race or gender.” (While here in the US photos generally do not accompany resumes or other hiring documents, in other parts of the globe that practice may be commonplace.)
Pay equity in race, gender, and other protected class factors is lacking. It simply cannot be denied. For instance, in 2013 the Pew Research Center analyzed the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Pew found that all groups (gender, race, and ethnicity) combined, with the exception of Asian men, lag behind white men in terms of median hourly earnings. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported that in 2018, the median weekly full-time earnings gender pay gap was 18.9%. This year, Payscale released a report reviewing gender pay gaps and racial pay gaps. The reported noted the following:
• The ratio of the median earnings of women to men without considering various compensable factors (such as job title, years of experience, industry, etc.), only decreased by $0.07 since 2015. In 2020, women make only $0.81 for every dollar a man makes.
• The ratio of the median earnings of women to men when considering compensable factors also decreased, but only by $0.01 since 2015. Through this lens, women make $0.98 for every $1 a man makes.
• Without considering various compensable factors, women of all races and ethnic groups earn less than white men. The largest pay gaps occurred in American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American (black), and Hispanic women. Women in these groups earned $0.75 for every dollar a white man earns. This is a $0.01 increase from 2019.
• When considering various compensable factors, the largest earnings gap was between African American (black) women and white men. Black women make $0.97 for every dollar a white man with the same qualifications makes.
• Again when considering various compensable factors, there are some positive findings, too. Asian women make $1.02 for every $1 dollar a white man makes.
What Can Organizations Do?
Now’s the time for action! Take an honest assessment, roll up your sleeves, and get to work! A thorough pay equity audit is an effective first step to address compensation related issues. Hire a third-party consultant to review your organization’s pay equity and to develop a strategy to correct any pay disparities going forward. Commit to making those changes. If you need assistance in this area, the Astron team is ready for you.
Policy / Workplace Environment Changes
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a helpful article on how human resources can establish a DEI plan in four phases, after initially obtaining senior leadership’s buy-in and support:
1. Data collection and analysis to determine the need for change – How can you address disparities if you don’t know your in-house concerns and trends? A deep audit into what your organization looks like in comparison with the market is a crucial step. Demographics that SHRM recommends gathering and reviewing are the following:
o Ethnicity / national origin
o Family status
o Gender identity or expression
o Life experiences
o Organization function and level
o Personality type
o Religion, belief, and spirituality
o Sexual orientation
o Thinking / learning styles
o Veteran status
You may be thinking, how can we gather this data effectively and confidentially? What if employees don’t want to share this information with HR? SHRM notes that capturing this information will be difficult. While some of this information already can be found in your HRIS system, many employers will need to survey their workforce on additional information such as religion and sexual orientation. If there is general distrust of leadership or uncertainty on how this data could be used, employees will be hesitant to share this information. To help alleviate this challenge, organizations may utilize a third-party resource to complete this survey and provide a summary report.
2. Strategy design to match business objectives – After gathering data, identify pain points and areas lacking in DEI. Questions to consider may include the following:
o Demographics of leadership positions – How diverse are the people in these roles? For example, are they all male, or of the same race / ethnic background? Why is that?
o Department demographics – Are there certain departments with a concentrated employee population from one demographic? What hiring practices resulted in this?
o Location Demographic – If the organization has more than one location, what are the demographics from each in comparison to the others?
Address how to improve on those pain points and develop programs to gradually strengthen those areas. This most likely will include adjusting organizational culture, developing more inclusive employee referral programs, and identifying how sensitive topics such as political stance will be addressed in the workspace. Outside DEI consultants may be effective resources when navigating what can be difficult and sensitive change.
3. Implementation of the initiative – Buy-in from leadership is essential to successfully roll out changes. Communication is key for everyone.
4. Evaluation and continuing audit of the plan – DEI is not a static topic. Be sure to routinely check in on employees to get their feelings about their work environment. Routinely examine policies and practices to ensure a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Take action when disparities are identified or culture complaints occur.
All organizations must take a hard look at their practices and evaluate how they can improve their environment to make it more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Take active steps to remove biases throughout the employee life cycle & the organization, and reinforce these changes through leadership & role modeling. Be considerate of the uniqueness of all members of your organization, and enjoy the delight & positive impact of having a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
Has your organization taken documented steps to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive? Please share how you’ve done it in our comment box below!