Why DEI programs are failing

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Businesses have struggled to establish a diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) work environment for some time now, but the events of 2020 highlighted how bad most organizations are at building impressive DEI efforts.

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Staggering unemployment trend across US as a result of COVID-19, centers on budget and policy priorities informed of Black and Latinx workers endured a much slower job recovery rate than white workers in October. In August 2021, the unemployment rate was 8.8% among black workers and 6.4% for Latinx workers, compared to 4.5% for white workers.

Recovery rates are not isolated to ethnicity; Women have lost their jobs in the past year at a much higher rate than men. Oxfam International reports That the pandemic cost women around the world at least $800 billion in earnings. The numbers are devastating and point to the need for massive change across the board in terms of providing more sustainable and inclusive work environments for underrepresented groups.


Successful DEI not only enables a culturally diverse workforce – it is essential to business success. Last year, McKinsey Confirmed The most diversified companies are now most likely to outperform less diversified peers on profitability — proving that DEI has a profound effect on corporate results.

But progress is being made at a slow pace. reason? Businesses are prioritizing diversity without establishing an equitable and inclusive framework to support a diverse work culture. The reality is that before you can create a truly diverse workforce, you must commit to taking equitable and inclusive initiatives that support all employees. No matter how diverse your team is, your DEI efforts will fail if you don’t provide the same programs and inclusive environment.

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Companies need to rethink their approach and prioritize equity and inclusion over diversity, building on EID efforts rather than DEI.

Why equity should come first

As a black woman who has focused her career on employee experience — recruiting candidates, building teams and now leading diversity efforts at a security technology company — I know firsthand what racism and discrimination look like in the workplace. and how it feels. From time to time, companies have brought me into their organization to increase diversity, without basic policies and programs to support a diverse workforce.

No matter how hard I tried to find opportunities for people who looked like me, it was never enough without giving them the resources and environment they needed to succeed. Complaints of discrimination were often dismissed, requests for support were ignored. New employees who are upbeat and excited about their future in a company will quickly become disillusioned with their work environment. The common denominator missing in these failures was not a lack of diversity but a lack of attention to equality.

For both employee experience teams and diversity leads, it is important to distinguish between similarity and similarity. To build equity in your DEI initiatives, you must realize that each person comes with different needs for their role. While equality means giving equal resources to all, equality means giving individual employees resources and opportunities specific to their needs so that they can reach the same level of success as their colleagues.

If businesses want to change how they approach DEI, they must first ask: How do we build an equitable and inclusive foundation to build and maintain diverse talent?

closing the pay gap

Performing a salary analysis is the first step in embracing equity and ensuring equal job opportunities and pay for all employees. Historically, equality in pay and opportunities has been unachievable for underrepresented groups, resulting in a major constraint for most DEI initiatives. Until recently, many companies did not even conduct salary analysis, let alone providing transparency for pay ranges and pay scales across the organisation.

A comprehensive analysis should be done annually to track the progress of your organization as well as identify your weaknesses. When implemented properly, a salary analysis will reveal salary equity across your organization’s race, gender and age.

A truly equitable system provides fair wage wages regardless of ethnicity or gender. This is an area where businesses still struggle. A survey done two years ago by pay scale found that black men earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, and Latino men earned 91 cents. The gender pay gap is even wider, with women earning 84 percent of men’s earnings last year. According to pew research, “Women will have to work an extra 42 days to earn more than men in 2020.”

The primary goal is to close the pay gap so that black workers and people of color earn as much as their white counterparts, and women earn the same as men.

It is not a lack of talent; it’s a lack of vision

One constant pushback I hear about DEI is that businesses are striving to be more diversified but can’t find diverse talent. Often, it is claimed that there is a shortage of talent, especially in the technology industry, where roles are defined by technical abilities. But the lack of talent is a false premise, and what is really happening is a lack of foresight on the recruiting side.

Businesses are quick to focus their hiring efforts on the wrong criteria, placing too much emphasis on years of experience or specific skill sets. This approach works against the recruitment of diverse talent because many underrepresented groups are denied opportunities that lead to longevity in a role or adequate training to acquire specific skills.

If a candidate has the right traits – flexibility, creativity and ambition – they will quickly learn whatever technical abilities are required to get the job done in a short amount of time. Companies need to understand that an individual’s unique experience and innate strengths make them a qualified candidate and must be deliberate about their recruitment practices so that they can look beyond years of experience.

Obviously, this may not work for all open roles, but if there is a runway for training and learning opportunities, teams can make serious progress on their diversity goals by expanding their views of the “perfect” candidate.

Why are ERGs Important?

Before you can start making impactful changes, you need to have a clear understanding of your organization’s current culture and existing shortcomings. While salary analysis is an important step you can take, another important effort is building a support system for your people through employee resource groups (ERGs).

ERGs can take many shapes – groups for women, black workers, Latinx employees and LGBTQ activists, to name a few – and provide a vast amount of support throughout the organization.

Successful ERGs serve as the backbone of your inclusion initiative, creating camaraderie and providing employees with safe, welcoming spaces where they can share their experiences. ERGs not only help you better serve underrepresented groups in your organization, they help leadership raise awareness of other cultures and life experiences.

ERGs are essential if your goal is to be collaborative and provide a platform for strong dialogue around personal and sensitive topics. They not only encourage inclusion, but can dramatically increase employee retention rates. Through effective ERGs, organizations become more clear about the needs of their employees and can act on initiatives that help boost employee morale, productivity and job satisfaction.

Want to know how your employees feel about their jobs? ask them

Finding gaps in your DEI efforts is a challenge, regardless of the size of your company. as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know, This is where employee surveys can make a big difference, uncovering substantial data that can help create more effective DEI programs, as well as enhance employee experience outcomes.

Sending out monthly, quarterly or annual employee surveys opens the door to deeper insights on employee satisfaction. It reveals shortcomings that may be overlooked at some levels of the organization, making it possible to address problematic issues and create new processes that better meet your DEI efforts.

Internal surveys are an invaluable tool, providing practical data that can motivate employees. Tracking results, measuring progress, and evaluating baselines is an integral part of any large project, but is especially important when you aim to transfer work cultures and build sustainable DEI structures.

Of course, none of this will work if you don’t have buy-in from the lead. Before you can implement comprehensive DEI solutions – or EID if you are whole-heartedly committed to positive change – your organization’s C-suite must be on board. To build truly equitable, inclusive and diverse organizations, business leaders need to be able to articulate what these initiatives mean to them and how they want these initiatives to be reflected in the organization.

Once you have leadership support, you can begin activating sustainable DEI programs, starting with equal pay and job opportunities. From there, you can start building safe, welcoming spaces where people are able to show up. Inclusive work environments give employees the ability to bring their unique life experiences and diverse backgrounds to your organization, helping to expand your company’s vision and ability to connect with a wider audience. With these efforts firmly implemented, you can begin to develop a recruitment strategy that not only attracts a diverse workforce but maintains a high retention rate.

Creating a successful EID program is like building a house: You must first have a strong foundation and walls before adding decorations.

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