Companies are investing in diversity, but many workers don't reap the benefits
- About 98% of companies have a diversity program, but only a quarter of workers in diverse groups – women, people of color and people who identify as LGBTQ – aren't confirming any benefits from these programs, according to a new Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report, Fixing the Flawed Approach to Diversity. BCG identified men, age 45 or older who typically are the major decision-makers in corporations, as one main obstacle to diversity progress. These leaders underestimate the barriers in recruiting, retaining and advancing women and minority employees, which can result in the misallocation of resources and a lack of investment for better results, BCG said.
- The 16,500 employees surveyed in the report outlined the diversity initiatives they considered to be the most effective, but that weren't currently the priority of leadership – what the research called "hidden gems" for employers to implement. Such strategies included: visible role models, parental leave, childcare assistance, fairer recruiting and advancement processes, sponsorship and individual roadmaps for advancement and structural changes such as nonbinary gender designations and gender-neutral restrooms.
- BCG said that companies need to focus on implementing diversity initiatives that exemplify strong leadership commitment and rigorously track key performance indicators (KPIs). "Our data also identified a back-to-basics approach when it comes to improving diversity programs, identifying three fundamental prerequisites for organizations to create change," said Matt Krentz, a senior partner at BCG, who coauthored the report. "These measures include focusing on antidiscrimination policies, engaging in bias awareness training, and removing bias from evaluation and promotion decisions."
While diversity initiatives have taken off, "diversity fatigue" has set in for some companies due to a perceived lack of progress, an Atlassian study showed last year. Part of the failure, the study notes, is that companies may focus too much on hiring a certain number of underrepresented people, rather than on inclusion more broadly — leading to dissatisfaction for everyone involved.
Immersing underrepresented groups into an organization's culture must be part of a diversity initiative. "It is important for businesses to establish a framework to deliberately foster an inclusive environment where differences, talents and perspectives of all people are maximized to create the highest performing teams," Ken Bouyer, Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting at Ernst & Young, told HR Dive last year.
Working Mother Media's Diversity Best Practices division has an inclusion index that measures companies' diversity and inclusion (D&I) achievement. Availability of insights and data, demographic transparency, recruitment processes and company culture are all aspects of that index — and all part of how a company can ensure that its inclusion program actually sees success.