Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
- Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
- Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
The Future of D&I In A Post-Election USA
I need to prepare next year’s D&I strategy now. Is there anything I should take into account based on the election?
While public policy will play a role in achieving intersectional gender equity, I encourage you against using the election results as your DEI roadmap.
The outcome of the presidential election (or any election, really) should not influence your approach to creating and maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. You should continue to follow DEI best practices regardless of who occupies the White House.
What do I mean by “DEI best practices?”
DEI suffers from shiny object syndrome. Over the years and especially in 2020, we’ve been told our DEI efforts hinge on:
- Employee resource groups
- Diversity training
- Increased flexibility for working mothers
- Women’s leadership conferences
- A Chief Diversity Officer
- Donating millions of dollars to charity
- Re-writing job descriptions
Unfortunately, these efforts don’t represent a unified approach to closing intersectional gender gaps. While they may be well-intended, many of these popular DEI “strategies” have not led to more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
Worse, these strategies turn into the type of cost centers that make executives question further DEI investment.
Instead, employers should look at the data to determine which strategies are most effective in creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
DEI best practices include:
- Using AI to measure & report on key diversity metrics. We use data to measure progress toward business objectives that matter. So if DEI matters to your organization, measure it with the help of advanced technology. See here for how to get started with diversity measurement and see here to find out how the Pipeline™ platform drives DEI results via AI and cloud computing.
- Committing to data transparency. Take your diversity metrics a step further by publishing them. Even if you’re not required by state or federal law to publish diversity reports (yet), you should do so anyway. Job seekers, investors, and consumers are all expressing an increased desire to see your company’s progress behind the press release.
- Offering workplace benefits that lift the burden of the second shift. Women’s unpaid labor has increased by 153% during the pandemic, causing women to leave the workforce. If you have the margin, consider adding important benefits such as paid caregiver leave and childcare reimbursements. Guaranteeing pay and promotion equity for mothers should be a given.
And why should you follow these “DEI best practices” regardless of the election outcomes?
Consumers’ and employees’ growing awareness of the progress-to-press release gap should inspire companies to take concrete action on matters of equity.
More than half (56%) of US adults believe that the business community has yet to take tangible steps to close equity gaps within their organizations — despite the flood of media attention given to the issue.
Moreover, companies that take a stand on fixing systemic inequity are 4.5 times more likely to gain consumer trust than lose it. (Among Black Americans and women, companies are 7.5 times and 5.5 times more likely to gain consumer trust, respectfully.) Yet, half of Americans don’t know how brands are planning to meaningfully address inequity.
There’s a rising tide of savvy stakeholders who aren’t afraid to vote with their pocketbooks and talent decisions. So instead of focusing on who’s voted into power, companies should focus on their stakeholders.