The murder of George Floyd unleashed a tidal wave of pledges of support for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across corporate America and beyond. As we fast forward from 2020 to 2022 the question is “What is different now?”. What are the current DEI challenge and improvements?
I believe it’s time to reflect not solely on what transpired in 2020, but on what has continued to unfold. We must also look into the accountability or lack of changes in the dynamics of organizations and their promises. The buzzword immediately became diversity, equity, and inclusion. Months later it was belonging. Organizations vowed to show their commitments to those within the workforce and social responsibility to the communities in which they serve.
DEI Changes Made So Far
There has been some progress made as DEI positions have significantly increased across organizations both large and small. According to SHRM (Society For Human Resource Management), there has been a 55% increase. However, many organizations claim the onset of COVID-19 thwarted most DEI plans and initiatives as focus and resources had to be shifted.
DEI Challenges Organizations Face Today
With this shift in priorities, the first review of cost-cutting measures or payroll is always the human resources department. It’s here where DEI usually falls and this position is normally considered nonessential. With this mentality and outlook unfortunately some DEI initiatives have fallen by the wayside and have left a demotivated workforce full of broken promises.
The other acknowledgment relates to the pandemic and people watching their budgets. A lot of the DEI practitioners who are going into the organizations still are not getting the budgets or financial backing to successfully implement what they have been employed to do. Unfortunately, the pandemic becomes a logical excuse to say, let’s redirect our resources to other spaces.
I have noticed a positive change in things such as marketing materials and job descriptions to speak to DEI. However, I cannot say for certain that these changes reflected in the materials have been put into practice and they mimic the current workforce.
An increasingly diverse workforce is demanding to see itself in the company mirror.
Cultural issues continue to rise as employees continue to survey the landscape and not see the needle move. Employees wonder as to why certain initiatives were added and newly crafted values are mismatched. Organizations must strive to foster increased inclusion and attain equity to prosper in diversity. To make a significant difference long-term, companies must be willing to take a driven approach to diversity. They must treat it the way they treat any other business problem: gather data, establish metrics to set baselines and measure progress. Lastly, they must keep trying strategies until they meet their goals. That’s something companies have never done in the diversity arena. We might not get DEI challenges and improvements right the first go-around but we will get this right!!
Blog post written by Tony Alexander the National Events Council DEI Chair. If your organization is facing DEI challenges and improvements and need support, please contact us here.