Don’t let these common concerns immobilize your diversity and inclusion program’s progress

stock-photo-road-sign-of-success-or-fail-223450-577453-edited.pngAs of 2011, 97 percent of companies, according to data from Forbes, had a formal workplace diversity strategy in place.

Simply having an initiative, though, doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to enact lasting, significant change. Companies can invest considerable time and money into diversity and inclusion efforts and still fail to see tangible results. 

Trying to figure out what went wrong isn’t always easy. Diversity and inclusion programs can have a lot of moving parts; because factors like company culture and  how severe diversity issues are can vary by organization, there’s no singular template employers can use to evaluate their strategy.

You may, however, be able to identify some areas that need attention by examining whether your organization’s efforts have hit a few common diversity program roadblocks — such as:

Failing to focus on inclusion

From 2014 to 2017, the amount of executives who said inclusion was a top priority rose by 32 percent, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey.

More companies may be recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion; many, though, are struggling to see diversity program success. Just 12 percent of the organizations Deloitte spoke with have reached the highest level in its inclusive culture maturity model.

Consider the results from a 2013 study that found the majority of employees gave white male leaders low competency scores in inclusion-centric job components, such as coaching to improve diverse employees’ performance and building diverse teams. 

More than half of the white male leaders who participated in the study said they either lacked the experience to successfully lead diversity and inclusion programs or their employer hadn’t sufficiently prepared them to. Companies that offer diversity training may be able to correct the problem.

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Setting vague diversity program goals

Diversity and inclusion efforts are rarely a short-term undertaking; without specific, realistic targets to work toward, it’s nearly impossible to know if you’re making adequate, or any progress toward improvement.

Yet a PwC global survey found only 37 percent of organizations give leaders specific diversity and inclusion goals, and even less — 33 percent — measure their progress toward reaching program goals

Neglecting to properly promote your diversity program

Fifty-seven percent of the tech company employees Indeed surveyed didn’t know what meaningful action their company was taking to foster diversity in the workplace; a quarter thought their employer wasn’t doing anything.

That’s a problem. If your employees, vendors, potential job candidates and customers don’t know what steps you’re taking to increase diversity, they may assume it isn’t a priority for the company; and diversity and inclusion efforts matter to many of those groups — particularly consumers.

Companies that are more diverse than other businesses in the same industry and country obtain a larger share of the market, according to a McKinsey report involving companies in the U.K., U.S., Latin America and Canada. 

Organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Ones in the top quartile for racial and ethic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have higher returns.

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By sharing your diversity initiative successes via your website, periodic publications and other venues, you can convey that the company is fervently committed to achieving its diversity and inclusion goals — which could potentially, research indicates, improve the way candidates perceive the organization, overall performance and other aspects. 

In addition to the suggestions mentioned above, some of the previous posts we’ve published on workplace diversity best practices may prove helpful if you’re starting a diversity and inclusion program overhaul.

For more information, view our posts on why diversity efforts won’t work without inclusion, how to improve gender equality in the workplace, what some of the most diverse companies are getting right — and download our free white paper on how to establish the most effective diversity and inclusion program.

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