Accountability vs. Good Faith Effort: Why We Need to Rethink Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Efforts and Outcomes

Type “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging” (DEI&B) into any search engine and a myriad of articles appear discussing the demand for change and the need for programs and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace. There is no shortage of content, yet very few organizations have successfully built a DEI&B program that allow diverse employees across all levels of a company to thrive

Up until now, DEI&B had predominantly been measured by “good faith effort,” or “actions intended to identify and, if present, remove barriers to people of color and women within [the] workforce or expand employment opportunities for minorities and women within [the] workforce.” (FDIC) During a recent Sevenstep RPO Roundtable several human resources (HR) and talent acquisition (TA) leaders discussed the fact that in no other area of business do bonuses get paid or people get promoted based on good faith effort, or GFE, alone. The call-to-action for all organizations this year is to move beyond GFE and make a measurable difference by assigning real key performance indicators to DEI&B programs and activities.

It is not enough to only measure the total percentage of diverse people in your organization. A comprehensive picture must be developed, from the moment a candidate expresses interest in the organization, throughout the recruitment and hiring processes, to their first promotion, and including their exit from the business. Each recruitment and career milestone must be tracked for the data to be used to assess the DEI&B health of the business.

DEI&B in 2021 and Beyond

The benefits of having a diverse workforce are significant. For one, increased diversity is directly linked to profitability. Not to mention, cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by up to 20 percent. Diversity also helps in attracting more talent. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities. (Quantum Workplace)

And yet, 24 percent of employees have personally felt discriminated against at their current companies. (EmplifyAnd, as much as diversity is a magnet for talent, a lack of diversity and fairness can have the reverse affect. Emplify found that 40 percent of employees have cited unfairness in the forms of harassment, bullying or stereotyping as a major reason why they chose to leave a company.

Representation, opportunity and the advancement of minorities will not happen with GFE alone. That much has been proven. Instead, SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based)steps need to be taken. Here are a few good places to start:

  • Increase Diversity at ALL Levels. Many of our roundtable attendees recognized that their GFEs have resulted in increased representation of people of color in their entry-level positions but that similar representation has not yet been seen at the upper echelons of their businesses. This year, they are measuring diversity at various levels of their businesses to increase representation across the board. One attendee shared that they are identifying 200 leaders this year to develop and move up and around in the organization – 100 of which will be minorities.

Action: Diversify leaders within your organization by upskilling or reskilling people of color. Create a proactive career map for all employees, especially management-level and above individuals, and assign a metric of how many managers from underrepresented communities will be promoted by the end of this year.

  • Provide DEI&B Training. An attendee of the RPO Roundtable introduced the term ‘lived experiences’ and shared his organization’s focus on understanding the life experiences of employees, including what each person brings to the table, so that managers, and the company, know how to support them in the way that they need to be supported. People’s ability to be their authentic self at work is compromised when they do not see themselves in the organization. They need to be represented and feel understood.

Action: Provide DEI&B training to educate employees on important topics, like lived experiences. Encourage open dialogue between managers and employees by having regularly scheduled reviews and open office hours.

  • Identify Biases in Your Hiring Processes. ‘Like hire for like,’ meaning people tend to hire people who look like them and are like them. Without empathy and understanding, interviewers start down a different path of questioning. Unconscious bias cannot be completely eliminated, all people have bias, but processes need to be changed to limit its impact.

Action: Focus efforts on the frontline of TA, including the initial slate of candidates that are being considered and by training recruiters and hiring managers. Bias can be mitigated, and DEI&B can be improved, when you adjust the system in which employees are brought into the organization. You mayalso consider a technology solution like Sevayo Talent AI®, Sevayo Insights or TalVista, to help in this area. And, for more on data and diversity, read this article with Sevenstep Chief Solutions Officer, Paul Harty.

We cannot let DEI&B be an event-based topic. Primacy must be placed on measurable improvement, not just effort. By focusing on organically infusing DEI&B throughout an organization, by setting targets and measuring, and by training and having open discussions with employees, we can all move the needle to inspire real change – at an organizational level and systematically. But, change also needs to happen at an individual level, too. Bias is learned throughout a lifetime and if left to permeate DEI&B will never improve.

Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can, but do not stop there. Hold yourself, your talent program and your organization responsible. Change will not happen without true accountability

If you are looking for a talent provider with experience in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, including KPIs, processes and technology to eliminate bias in your hiring, consider Sevenstep. We are a trusted partner to organizations, many of which are represented on the Fortune 500, to ensure DEI&B goals are met through their talent program. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help.

Sevenstep’s proprietary HR analytics platform, Sevayo, provides Diversity Insights, including those detailed above, in a single, easy-to-consume dashboard. To request a demo, contact us.