Much has been made of the impact of the pandemic on specific elements of society - such as frontline health workers, or those in the events and F&B industries. But the compulsory lockdown and working from home due to government regulations forced virtually everyone - including senior executives - to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced in achieving an appropriate work/life balance and the resulting need for better flexibility in the working week. Many employees had time to re-evaluate their priorities, so to keep valuable members of staff, corporate ‘norms’ have been challenged. Policies that appeared to be set in stone have been adjusted. Operating processes and systems have been updated to accommodate the new hybrid approach to working. To show that organisations truly value their workforce and avoid losing highly prized employees, many have altered their approach to DEI from a ‘we should do this’, to a ‘we must do this’.
But what else needs to be done to show organisations are serious about this new future?
- The C-Suite need to ‘walk the talk’’ by setting clear targets to which they are held accountable and allocating appropriate financial and personnel resources to achieve initiatives effectively.
- Develop a purpose that aligns with a DEI supportive culture. Encouraging open and honest discussions to allow people to bring their whole selves to work.
- Create and empower internal employee diversity groups to collaborate and share innovative ideas to improve the culture.
- Obtain DEI-relevant internal and external hard and soft data and analytics to provide initial baselines and organisational benchmarking, against which improvements can be measured.
- Challenge existing processes and policies to include employee-centric programmes that reflect the new inclusive culture.
DEI impacts culture change - which is not a quick fix. But with the appropriate leadership commitment and employee support, tackling some of the ‘low hanging fruit’ issues highlighted by the data analysis, will lead to a realisation that the organisation is prepared to be in it for the long haul. As time progresses, successful transformative outcomes can be shared and celebrated.
Whilst the last 2 years have proved a challenge (and we are not out of the woods yet), businesses have recognised that DEI is no longer something to be considered at a later date. It is an urgent business imperative if organisations are going to remain competitive; retain vital employees; keep key stakeholders happy and build resilience for the future impacting both the top and bottom line.
DEI is here to stay and this train is leaving the station. Ignore this movement at your peril.
What initiatives have you found that work in achieving this mindset shift?