In an exclusive interview with HR.com, Sarah talks about the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, areas that HR and talent professionals can work together, DEI practices that should be adopted in 2022 and much more.
Q. What is the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace?
Sarah: The last few years have seen an awakening to the fact that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are a critical part of today’s business world—and not just as a one-off program or initiative, but as an ethos that shapes the very fabric of our organizations. I think we should also acknowledge that a great deal of progress has been made with companies committing resources and recognizing that DEI enables companies to not only survive but to thrive in a competitive environment. That said, there is more work to be done for everyone to agree that companies have gone far enough.
For instance, a survey analysis by Just Capital shows that while companies are committing to DEI initiatives, more work is needed to increase accountability and action. Their research found that “while workers’ and employers’ perspectives converge in recognizing corporate commitments to DEI programs and initial progress toward goals, there is also some notable divergence in the two groups’ perspectives on how far their companies have come, suggesting that increased accountability and action may still be needed.”
Q. How does diversity affect talent management?
Sarah: It’s become evident that DEI is intricately connected to recruiting and retaining new talent. Companies are having to face this head-on in part because of the Great Resignation, which I prefer to call the Great Reshuffle, since employees aren’t just resigning, they are leaving for some specific reasons. And a big part of that is related to prospective employees’ desires to be part of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment.
You don’t have to look far to find evidence to back this up. Consider the research by CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey with 8,233 workers which showed that “Nearly 80% of those surveyed said they want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, and a third said their companies are doing ‘a lot’ of work on this area.” That tracks with my own experience as CEO at Kantola. We are an eLearning with a focus on DEI and harassment prevention training, and it’s a big part of why we are committed to helping companies make progress in this area. It’s also why it’s so critical for talent management to put the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. But as I said earlier, it can’t be an add-on. It must be represented throughout the organization and reflected in its structure and processes. I know this isn’t easy. That’s why in addition to our training courses, we help organizations with many free resources, including thought pieces on retention and recruitment, to provide guidance on new challenges and opportunities around DEI.
Q. Which areas can HR and talent professionals work more closely together?
Sarah: There is a key role for both HR and talent professionals in the DEI realm. One area where they can work closely is on the development of the program plan, working together to set strategies that address the needs of both areas. That’s a collaboration that reinforces the benefits of DEI for both functions.