DEI – HR jargon or meaningful strategy?

posted on September 29, 2021
| HR Reporter |

All too often employers roll out DEI programs without fully understanding the metrics behind them. And while this may satisfy the HR checklist – it’s hardly conducive to real change. HRD spoke Dr Alex Lovell, director, research & data science at O.C. Tanner – one of the collaborators of O.C Tanner’s free whitepaper How recognition builds inclusion – who revealed how expectations around DEI have shifted and what the future of diversity looks like in Canada.

“I’d argue that DEI has holistically been neglected,” prefaced Lovell. “Many organizations have focused exclusively on diversity, and typically from a risk mitigation standpoint. Furthermore, after significant events in several Western countries, there’s been an increase in performative DEI. But organizations have often put less effort into inclusion and equity than they have diversity. Part of this is natural—organizational risk is typically more expensive in the short term due to diversity issues. It is time to rethink the way our organizations work. The moderate to long-term risks of exclusionary cultures are even more damaging because they impact our most valuable resource: our people. If we do not, we will lose our most valuable resource: our people. I believe that inclusion is often misunderstood. We can no longer treat inclusion as a risk-mitigation strategy. Instead, we need to create a culture that embraces each individual and celebrates the intersection of their unique attributes in the context of everyday employee experiences.”

According to a recent report from Glassdoor, 67% of jobseekers look for workplace diversity when considering a job offer – what’s more, over 50% of employees want their current employer to increase DEI efforts in their organization. Employers should eye this data with caution. Recent global movements, such as Black Lives Matter and George Floyd riots, have brought DEI to the forefront of everyone’s minds. People are actively looking to work for organizations that really believe in diversity – and have the programs to prove it.

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