The executives might be proud of your company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. But showing pride and announcing such work in press releases and blog posts is quite different from communicating them internally.
At least, that’s the feedback from research the good folks at HR Brew recently completed with the help of the Harris Poll.
If there’s progress on DEI initiatives, many employees may not be aware of it. HR Brew’s data reveal that only a paltry 13 percent of employees said they could vouch that their companies had made the effort to expand their diversity and inclusion programs. Almost half of them said there was no apparent effort to improve diversity in the workplace, and almost 4 in 10 said they had no idea how their company’s leadership was tackling this problem.
Obviously, that is not news anyone heading DEI at a company, or any executive for that matter, want to hear. Part of the problem, of course, is communicating what your company is doing in the first place. But a larger challenge may be the details of what companies are actually accomplishing on the DEI front.
As is the case with environmental programs and sustainability strategies, many DEI objectives that companies have announced are in the abstract. Think of the problem many people have grasping climate change: If the threat is far off and companies’ solutions have until 2030, 2040 or even 2050, it’s easy to brush off that information, especially if there is no concerted attempt to update employees and other stakeholders on any progress. Out of mind and into 2030 could very well mean: out of sight and memory.
A similar theory applies to DEI. Many goals that companies have articulated, especially within the tech sector, talk about expanding and diversifying the pipeline of talent by 2025 or so. And if that same company is making such promises but not publicly releasing any data on workforce race, gender or ethnicity, well, again, it’s hard to grasp what, if anything, the company is achieving on this front.
Plenty of companies have been rolling out stories about a particular woman or person of color on staff who are doing amazing things within the firm. While those can make for a nice post on Medium or a company’s blog, in the bigger picture, trotting out such employees can add to the sense that many of these same employees, whether they are a woman, fall within a racial minority (or both), are being tokenized. Such actions also results in more work — thereby one reason why many female employees and employees of color are feeling more burnout and conflict about returning to the office.
The tepid response to DEI work is left in the dust by intrigue over the four-day workweek, an idea some companies have already been testing out. The HR Brew/Harris Poll survey found 83 percent of employees are all-in on the idea. In fact, 87 percent said they would work longer hours daily to get that extra day off. But there’s a trade-off: Almost 60 percent said trading in a shorter workweek for a smaller paycheck is a nonstarter.
Gen Z, which appears overall determined to rewrite the rules of work, is one demographic that shows enthusiasm for the four-day workweek. But that won’t be enough for them to remain engaged on the job: One survey found that 87 percent of Gen Zers believed their employers’ progress on DEI was “extremely important.” Flexibility on working hours is only one tool in the kit, and younger workers clearly expect much more.
Image credit: Manasvita S via Unsplash
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.