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How to Create New D&I Initiatives for Talent Management

May 27, 2024
How to Create New D&I Initiatives for Talent Management

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) have become the foundations of a modern business strategy. It's widely recognised that diverse teams outperform their competitors, driving innovation, creativity, and profitability. 

But beyond the business case, there's a compelling human case too - talent today wants to see and work in inclusive environments. According to Teamstage.io, nearly half of job seekers consider company culture a decisive factor in their application process, and 88% find it at least relatively important. 

Without incorporating D&I initiatives, businesses risk falling behind, both culturally and competitively. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to creating impactful D&I initiatives, inspired by expert insights and best practices.

Youlim Jun, Senior People Operations Partner at Orbis, supports our internal D&I efforts. She has a degree in Psychology, a master's in Organisational Psychology and a passion for creating true belonging within a business. Read on for some of her insights.

Start by Being Authentic

Authentic input is the basis of any effective D&I strategy. Open, honest communication across all levels of the organisation is crucial. 

Youlim emphasises that genuine interest in employees' well-being is pivotal in this process. She believes that “it starts with showing genuine interest in your employees and colleagues. Ask how they’re doing and listen to the answer.” This approach helps identify issues and provides insights into the support employees need. 

Creating an atmosphere of trust and respect is essential. Respect, according to Youlim, involves active listening, being aware of unconscious biases, and avoiding reactive or judgmental responses. The way leaders respond to feedback is particularly important; defensiveness can shut down open communication, while humility and active listening can create a culture of honesty and trust.

“Make sure that you take a step back, practice active listening, and focus first and foremost on what they're feeling,” Youlim advises.

When employees see their feedback going nowhere, they’re unlikely to offer it in future.

Collect and Utilise D&I Data

Collecting D&I data is an insightful way to identify areas for improvement. Data points can include age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, disabilities, and more. 

This data helps organisations understand their current diversity efforts and set measurable goals for improvement.

Why collect this data? It’s crucial for measuring and driving change. Awareness of your organisation's diversity makeup can reveal blind spots and areas needing attention. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, diverse workforces lead to better business performance, customer loyalty, and employee trust and retention.

Not everyone is comfortable sharing their personal information, so you must allow people to opt-in. Explain to them why you’re collecting the data - if people understand that it’s to benefit them, they’ll be more likely to participate. 

Let your employees know the benefits of D&I data collection. The more your company knows, the better it can help its employees.

For instance, if a company discovers that many of its employees are working parents, leaders could implement more flexible working hours to accommodate school pickup times.

Above all, make sure your efforts in collecting D&I for Talent Management are genuine and aimed at creating real change within your organisation. Both current and prospective employees can quickly spot performative actions, so it's essential to avoid tokenism and ensure your initiatives are sincere.

Collecting D&I data is a fantastic step forward, offering deeper insights and enabling meaningful progress. Your employees will value the effort, and you'll uncover areas for improvement you might not have noticed before.

Implement Sustainable Initiatives

D&I initiatives must be sustainable. Often, well-intentioned programs fail because they are not adequately supported or maintained. Budget constraints and lack of ongoing commitment can derail efforts.

Youlim Jun warns against aggressive approaches to diversity training, which can backfire and create resentment. Instead, initiatives should be inclusive and educational, meeting employees where they are and encouraging gradual learning and growth. 

Avoid Common Pitfalls

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, initiatives can fall short. According to Youlim, this is often because we underestimate how much work is required and they cannot sustain it.

There are 3 key pitfalls to avoid when implementing D&I initiatives:

Performative Actions: Avoid tokenism and initiatives that are only skin-deep. Employees can quickly spot when D&I efforts are not genuine.

Vanity Metrics: Focus on meaningful metrics rather than skewing numbers to make the organisation look good. Use the data you’ve collected to drive real, actionable change.

Neglecting Feedback: Always follow through on employee feedback. If employees see their input ignored, they are unlikely to participate in future efforts.

To conclude, creating new diversity initiatives comes down to assessing your motives and processes. Ensure that you are sharing decision-making throughout your team, and moreover, that the feedback you receive comes from a place of honesty and trust. By doing so, organisations can build high-performing, inclusive environments where all employees feel valued and empowered to contribute their best work.

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