Partners in Performance: DEI and Human Resources

News Flash: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is not the responsibility of one department nor one person but it does require leadership and advocates. Whether that leadership and advocacy comes from the DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) executive or the Human Resources (HR) department there has always been a close relationship between HR and DEI companies. Almost all of HR duties relate in some form or fashion to DEI and this is why DEI companies are the best partner for HR departments.

In Human Resource Executive’s 2018 What’s Keeping HR Up at Night survey, we get a clear picture of what’s important and top-of-mind for Human Resources professionals. When asked the question, What do you consider to be the three biggest HR challenges your organization faces today, the top five challenges are all impacted by the work done in the DEI arena. This is what makes DEI companies the best partner for HR organizations. Let’s take a look at how these two entities work together to achieve organizational success. 

Human Resource Executive

DEI Human Resources Concern 1: Ensuring employees remain engaged and productive

Engagement and productivity are deeply connected. The idea of having employees engaged or really enthusiastic about their work is to ensure high productivity and really strong business outcomes. DEI supports this through measuring the gaps in engagement. Research has shown that engagement only measures approximately 20% of the elements that impact your organizational performance. DEI and particularly inclusion measures aspects of your workplace culture that will also impact employee engagement and therefore productivity as well. Professor James L. Hackett states in his book, The Culture Cycle, effective culture can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with “culturally unremarkable” competitors. DEI companies can help augment HR’s engagement focus with cultural insights that really matter to employees.

DEI Human Resources Concern 2: Retaining key talent in todays recovered economy

Retaining key talent is directly related to having a very positive work environment and a positive culture so that people are comfortable where they work and feel they are valued and appreciated for who they are. It is important for employers to recognize that Talent (employees and candidates) has many choices in this current job market. When individuals find themselves working in a negative environment or feel that they are not able to bring their whole selves to work, they know they have options and are willing to explore them. Another issue related to retention concerns perks and salaries. From an equity standpoint, if you don’t feel like you are getting paid a fare wage or the baseline benefits you can get somewhere else, likely having an inclusive environment is not enough. But just having those benefits and perks isn’t enough either. Not surprisingly, organizations must have a more holistic view of what they are able to offer employees. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are all critical to retaining talent.

DEI Human Resources Concern 3: Attracting and retaining diverse talent

Like other business consulting companies, DEI companies partner with HR to make sure the company is competitive in an ever-growing diverse talent pool. Today’s generation is seeking diversity more and more. However, there is still this push back that hiring diverse talent may not lend itself to hiring the best talent. This perception can be diminished by improving the attraction process, the pool from which talent is chosen and a fair and equitable interview process. DEI companies can help HR in all of these areas. Employer branding is one aspect of the attraction formula and ensuring there is inclusive messaging is key. Potential employees want to know that you value diversity and all the differences that make diverse candidates unique. A DEI organization can also help HR with the pool from which they are picking applicants. Are you going to pools that would have diverse candidates or are you going to the same old recycled groups of talent over and over?  Any finally, DEI companies can help with how candidates are selected and how interviews are conducted. Is the process fair and equitable? Is it consistent?

DEI Human Resources Concern 4: Aligning people strategies to business objectives

Acquisition, development and retention should always be connected to business objectives. DEI directly relates to and positively impacts these areas. The recognition that your organization’s culture contributes directly to your organization’s performance is critical in DEI work. Many see DEI as the right thing to do but not the best thing to do for the business. However, most of the current data around diversity support the notion that DEI is the right thing to do for the people, productivity and profitability of the company. To be clear, DEI doesn’t replace the core of what HR is doing but rather is integrated in the overall structure of what HR is seeking to achieve for the business. What more could a company ask for than doing well while also doing good – what a powerful combination!

DEI Human Resources Concern 5: Developing leaders

Many believe that the cream rises to the top and the emergence of leaders within a company occurs organically. If this thinking drives a company’s leadership approach, it leaves that company vulnerable to a lack of vision regarding leaders. Companies must determine what is leadership for their organization and DEI companies can help HR as they develop and apply criteria that creates inclusive leaders. A Deloitte study found Teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively. Companies need to establish more unbiased decisions for what makes a good leader and who get promoted into leadership. Companies are not going to attract or retain talent if they have terrible leadership.

The Power of Partnership

It is obvious that HR executives have several issues which keep them up at night but they are not in this alone. DEI companies are invested partners who, akin to their HR counterparts, strive to improve the company beyond filling positions and executing policies and procedures. The intersection of these two disciplines enhances company culture, performance and reputation. And that’s a winning recipe.