By Audra Hedberg, PHR, PHRca, SHRM-CP, VP of Services at Trüpp
The topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace has been an area of focus in HR for many years, but recent social and political events have created a renewed sense of urgency for savvy employers and HR professionals. Regardless of the programs and policies your organization has put in place, it is important to implement regular DEI assessments to get a pulse on how you are doing. A good DEI assessment will prioritize where to focus your efforts, provide benchmarking before implementing new initiatives, and offer valuable feedback about your programs’ ongoing health over time. But it doesn’t stop there; consider these compelling reasons for assessing your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are good for your business.
Today’s employees want to work for organizations that are in sync with current social issues. This doesn’t mean that you need to take a political stand, but it’s important to demonstrate that you are paying attention. Reinforcing your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, by conducting a DEI assessment and improving your DEI programs helps employees feel respected, valued, and proud of where they work.
Because of the broader perspectives involved, a diverse and inclusive workforce has been shown to contribute to more robust and comprehensive products and service offerings. Employees take more ownership and pride in their work, fostering a higher degree of productivity and employee engagement. Company efficiency improves as employees feel more invested, which has been proven to increase the bottom line.
2. The legal cases for EEO violations are costly.
A DEI assessment can uncover risks before they become a problem. On average, an employee lawsuit will take 318 days to be resolved, nearly an entire year—creating a costly distraction to your business. Additionally, courts are driving the point home with awards exceeding $310 million, as displayed in a recent case against Google. In this lawsuit, shareholders claimed that at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, senior executives improperly awarded multi-million-dollar severance packages to male executives who had been credibly accused of sexually harassing female employees.
By ignoring the DEI lens on business operations, employers become vulnerable to these potential employee discrimination claims and lawsuits. Besides the direct disruption, the damage caused by workplace discrimination works its way throughout your organization. The stress may contribute to increased absenteeism, leaves of absence, or even employees quitting their jobs. These impacts have ripple effects that extend out to the organization’s reputation, brand, and even the community.
3. DEI assessments and follow-through increase employee retention.
Employees do not want to work in a toxic environment or one that doesn’t value and accept them for their differences. A toxic environment leads to increased turnover and higher recruiting and onboarding costs. Many companies struggle to find and retain good employees; maintaining a strong track record of valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion can be essential in a company’s hiring and retention strategy.
Research has shown that when employers value and respond to employee feedback like that obtained from the employee survey included in a good DEI assessment, they reap significant rewards. Advancing your DEI efforts fosters a culture of respect that increases employee morale and leads to better innovation and improved financial performance.
What is a DEI Assessment?
An effective diversity, equity, and inclusion audit is designed to assess the current state of an organization concerning a broad spectrum of DEI factors. The DEI assessment should include an employee survey or interviews that provide actionable feedback, a comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s commitment to a respectful workplace, and a review of recruiting practices, workplace policies, training programs, reporting pathways, and investigation procedures.
Any gaps uncovered during the diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment should be prioritized and addressed promptly. Once an action plan is developed, it is essential to communicate the improvements you are making and why you are making them to your employees and follow through with any commitments you make. Keep in mind that DEI assessments are not a one-and-done endeavor. Conducting regular DEI assessments ensures the ongoing health of your programs and initiatives while enabling an organization to address vulnerabilities that may develop before they become a problem.