Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace was one of the hottest topics of the year 2020—and that was not a low bar to pass.
There is an extensive body of research showing that companies that prioritize diversity are outperforming their industry, that diverse communities foster innovation, and that despite that, diverse people—female, black, gay or otherwise—are still underrepresented in leadership positions. As an ecosystem, we are still struggling with pay inequity and lack of equal opportunity.
But the current generation has social and racial justice and equality squarely in its sights, and it is not letting employers get away with much. They are outspoken about these issues, and know how to leverage technology to make their voices heard. Executive leaders are feeling pressure to take action—to match the expectations set by their communities and employees. So we took the opportunity to dive deeper into the challenges facing these executives, the strides they have been making, as well as their insights into what matters most when it comes to DEI, in our newly launched research paper: “The State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Talent Transformation”.
The Organizational Challenges Facing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Fostering an inclusive culture and implementing more equitable practices have never been more attainable. Automation and innovation in the People function have made it possible to scale up any numbers of diversity programs, and executive support is skyrocketing.
Of course it’s not that easy; DEI remains a challenge for many talent teams today—more so in some ways than before. Our research unearthed a few reasons why DEI projects are still stuttering in many organizations—here’s a small sample:
Starting with Why
One of the fundamental obstacles that DEI programs face is also the easiest to resolve: few companies take the time to stop and consider what DEI means to them—not just what they want to accomplish, but why it’s important to employees, to managers, to leaders and to surrounding communities. Lacking this insight, it’s difficult to get critical buy-in from each of these stakeholders as programs can be seen as generic and disconnected from company culture.
As our research shows, CEOs, CHROs, and Talent Acquisition leaders all rank their reasons for prioritizing DEI differently. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, their reasons vary widely.
A Disconnect Between Goals and Empowerment
The research also discovered that 60% of organizations do not have DEI officers in place to lead programs and are lacking C-Level support. This disconnect reflects the reality of far too many talent teams—and why so many are struggling to make an impact. While clarity of goals is important, clarity of ownership is equally so.
Budget Needs to Catch Up
While it’s important to set up extensive goals, a company’s intent is only as good as the resources it puts behind it. 58% of organizations don’t have a dedicated budget for DEI programs—which explains why so many struggle to make an impact. Even the scrappiest teams can only do so much.
No team ever has all of the budget they need and few have the headcount they want. But as companies’ commitment to effecting change is growing and not lessening, it’s important to consider what exactly you will be working against.
Challenges to change in DEI are always some mixture of operational, technological and cultural roadblocks. The former are far easier to manage than the latter, but this is where executive support becomes so important: When a Diversity Officer has the direct and full support of executive leadership, they can overcome almost anything.
Figure 7 shows us that perspectives on what’s holding us back vary widely—which is a challenge in itself—and budget comes at the top of the list.
Our research for the The State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Talent Transformation report highlighted many more insights on the challenges facing organizations in this area, but also on the great progress they have been making. The report also includes excerpts from some of our partners in this project, as well as from Beamery customers who have put DEI at the core of their agenda.
Download the The State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Talent Transformation to dive deeper into the study.
At Beamery, our mission is to put talent transformation at the heart of every business. Our purpose is to create access to opportunities for people, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. Therefore, it is our aim to help everyone create a fair and respectful working environment for their teams: We want every employee to be able to do their best work, and to feel safe, regardless of age, sex, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status or any other factor. That is why we work to keep as close as possible to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in talent acquisition.