- Many HR leaders are committed to improving aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion within their workplaces, but there are still gaps between what organizations plan to tackle and what they have actually accomplished, according to survey data published this month by compensation data website Salary.com.
- For example, respondents from the 1,442 organizations represented in the survey placed a high level of importance on the need for employees to feel supported and free to speak up, translating to an average score of 4.4 on a 5-point Likert scale, with one being "strongly disagree" and five being "strongly agree." However, Salary.com found a 13% gap between how organizations rated the current reality of their workforces and how they rated their intentions.
- Similar gaps were found when examining topics such as emphasizing diversity as a central mission and providing DE&I training. Respondents cited lack of access to senior leadership and financial resources as obstacles, Salary.com said, and less than 2% of the survey's total participant base "said confidently that they were achieving DEI goals."
The survey data reflect what many HR industry observers have noted since the beginning of 2021. Since the global racial reckoning of the past year began, executives have been keen to pause, re-evaluate and improve their approach to DEI goals.
For example, a March survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found more than half of HR executives said their organizations were "actively working to develop and recognize more diverse talent." The same month, survey results published by the HR Policy Association found 82% of CHROs said diversity and inclusion would be top issues for their organizations.
However, the Salary.com report's findings are not necessarily surprising. Months prior to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., a February 2020 survey conducted by Perceptyx and Josh Bersin found fewer than 12% of companies recognized senior leaders for inclusion or diversity goals, and less than a third required any form of DEI training. Furthermore, the same survey found some 80% of companies were "just going through the motions" and not holding themselves accountable with respect to DEI goals.
It is unclear to what extent the increased societal focus on DEI issues may spur employers to adopt new strategies and invest in this area, but recent workplace trends could prompt some movement. In one recent survey of senior HR leaders, video interviewing firm HireVue found that remote work may allow employees to recruit more diverse talent pools. Forty-five percent of respondents said they would expand recruitment efforts to include candidates from "non-traditional places," HireVue said, and one-third planned to examine and rewrite job listings to include inclusive language.
From an organizational standpoint, another strategy may be to link executive compensation to DEI goals. HR consulting firm Mercer found in a September 2020 report that, while few organizations actually had done so, linking compensation to DEI goals could introduce a form of accountability for long-term change.
Employers might also seek cultural changes that can address some issues, such as free expression, that impact employee experience. Multiple organizations have made such changes in recent years, including The Walt Disney Company, which in April announced that cast members at the company's theme parks would have more flexibility in their hair, jewelry, nail and costume choices.