About 53% of U.S. workers say a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives play a key role in their decision about where to work, according to a Sept. 6 report from Eagle Hill Consulting.
At the same time, only 29% of employees say their current employer has taken additional action to demonstrate a commitment to DEI in the past six months.
The report reflects the trends developing nationwide. Many job candidates tend to express great interest in DEI initiatives, and while some companies continue to strengthen their DEI efforts, others are cutting back. In recent months, several high-profile companies have reported that their diversity executives are departing; other are laying off DEI employees at higher rates than other positions or scaling back on DEI budgets, according to recent reports.
“Smart employers are tapping into this employee sentiment and ensuring their culture creates a welcoming and supportive environment for all segments of their workforce,” Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting, said in a statement.
“A culture where employees feel valued and connected is a competitive factor when it comes to attracting and keeping top workers,” Jezior said.
In the firm’s nationwide survey of nearly 1,400 employees, younger workers appeared to be particularly interested in a company’s DEI efforts. In particular, about 77% of Gen Z workers and 63% of millennials said DEI plays a major role in their decision about a workplace.
When considering a new job, employees said it’s important to see a reflection of themselves at the company. About 63% said it’s important to know there are employees they identify with, 59% said it’s important to know there are leaders they identify with, and 52% said it’s important to know DEI is a priority for the CEO.
During the hiring process, job candidates also said it’s important to hear that employee perspectives are valued, employees feel safe being authentic, leaders have a transparent decision-making process and the company has a collaborative culture.
At their current job, some groups of workers said their employers have taken more steps on DEI in the past six months, including those who identify as having a physical impairment, LGBTQ+ employees, military veterans and neurodiverse workers. In addition, more non-white employees reported that their employers have taken DEI steps in recent months, including 39% of Asian/Pacific Islander workers, 35% of Hispanic/Latino workers and 33% of African American/Black workers.
Throughout 2023, reports have indicated that DEI initiatives are declining in corporate America, with 20% of companies now declining to offer any programs. A drop in C-suite endorsement may have played a role in this decline, as research indicates that support has decreased 18% during the past two years.
Among companies concerned about cost-cutting, DEI may be the “first to go,” according to a Monster report from earlier this year. Only 5% of recruiters indicated that DEI efforts were among their top priorities, yet 40% agreed that job candidates expect to learn about a company’s DEI efforts “more than ever.”
For companies looking to take more action on their DEI efforts, measurable objectives appears to be key. HR practitioners have noted several top measurable goals, such as increasing DEI education, moving toward pay equity, seeking diverse employee representation, building a diversified pipeline and creating a DEI committee or advisory board.