Walk the Walk: Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

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By Rachel McFalls and Jenny Pajares

 

Diversity in the workplace fosters innovation and creativity among your staff. For your teams, the benefits of a diverse workplace include more positive employee experiences and an enriched social perspective. Your organization benefits. Your customers benefit. DEI in the workplace even impacts your bottom line — in a significant way.

Today, the HR team at KCare is here to explore the value of DEI in the workplace and explain how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your organization. We'll also look at actionable ways to make these changes at your company. The good news is that some of them are very simple to launch. 

Why DEI in the Workplace Matters

For the organization, diverse teams can solve problems quickly and offer fresh ideas. With various cultural and religious holidays, they can also benefit your organization during staffing challenges (like the winter holidays in the US, for example.) Studies have shown companies in the top 25% for racial/ethnic and gender diversity were respectively 36% and 25% more likely to have superior financial returns. 

In the HR department, a culture of diversity and inclusion can also boost your social branding and attract better talent, as long as it's genuine and not lip service. Your employees — past, present and prospective — are actively discussing and researching your corporate culture online. So it's important to do more than "talk the talk." HR departments and supervisors must also "walk the walk."

Walking the Walk: How Leadership Can Launch DEI Initiatives 

We'll give you the broad strokes here, and more actionable examples below.

Start with a commitment from leadership. DEI begins at the top of your company and cascades down through every department. Every board member, owner, partner, and regional supervisor must be on board.

Next, get your workers' opinions through anonymous feedback gathered from surveys. You can't fix something if you don't know it's broken. This is a good way to take the temperature, so to speak, of your staff.

Then, you need a team to analyze that data. They can create metrics and action plans for leadership based on employee feedback and can spot possible trends (good, bad, and ugly) that could be impacting teams and employees.

Last, and probably most important, after analyzing the data provided by your teams, roll out DEI initiatives thoughtfully and purposefully with clear expectations.

It is crucial that your DEI efforts have:

  • A realistic timeline
  • A clearly communicated purpose
  • Commitment from leadership
  • A defined end goal to maintain accountability

You never want your organization to look like its DEI efforts are lip service, so having a lens of purpose is crucial.

Ensure DEI in the Workplace Initiatives Are Part of Your Hiring Practices. How?

One easy step to broaden your candidate pipeline in hiring is to research job boards that cater to a range of experiences and backgrounds, and partner with one to post your open roles.

There are numerous job board options out there whose users are from underrepresented communities and who come from all walks of life. Pay-to-post options, subscriptions, and even free services are available to fill your open positions and support your hiring needs.

Speaking of job posts, another easy fix is to remove exclusionary language like "aggressive," "rockstar," and "challenging" from your job descriptions and ensure the language is clear, specific, and without corporate jargon.

There are tools available that can scan and decode job descriptions for gender coding by identifying gendered words and minimizing their use. Be sure to monitor your job descriptions for inclusive language for all candidates. For example, if your job post says an employee must be able to stand for an entire shift, that is not inclusive. Making a minor adjustment to say they must remain stationary throughout a shift makes a huge difference.

Finally, perform blind candidate screens that remove the name, candidate picture and gender information from all applicants. When interviewing, ask the same questions to all new hire screens to remove any unconscious bias. The results may surprise you!

Incorporating any of these suggestions at your company will make a huge difference.

What Else Should HR Professionals Know About DEI Efforts?

With the constant message overload these last six months about companies doing mass layoffs and a looming economic recession, stress and anxieties are high. It's time for your business to invest in a people-first and people-focused culture.

This includes strong leadership, a robust benefits portfolio, talent retention, and keeping DEI efforts top of mind. The last few years have taught many organizations that there is more to employee happiness than just PTO and pay.

Investing in your employees' happiness and mental health must be a mainstay within your business model. Greater attention should be given to employees from marginalized communities, as they statistically saw a greater impact of COVID in their neighborhoods and communities.

Additionally, Gen Z has helped build a more diverse workforce with greater racial diversity. So companies must create an environment that attracts and retains that diverse workforce, specifically.

But ultimately, treat DEI efforts as goals for which everyone is accountable, from the board of directors to the newest hires in the mail room.

How Does the KCare HR Team Walk the Walk?

We understand the benefits of diversity in the workplace, so we take meaningful actions, like salary bands and an active Culture Advocacy Team (CAT.)

Salary Bands on All Job Postings in 2023

We were excited to launch salary bands for all employees at the beginning of 2023. Salary bands strip away any possible unconscious bias that even a person with the best intentions can unknowingly exhibit. Salary bands eliminate this risk by determining a salary range that strictly goes off data. 

They also bring full transparency, foster open communication, eliminate pay inequity, and can help attract and retain top talent. We are including bands on all our job postings starting in 2023, and we're looking forward to the results.

Culture Advocacy Team (CAT)

Our HR team has always worked in partnership with CAT to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace. We filter down the anonymous quarterly engagement survey results to something legible to the Employee Engagement Subcommittee CAT and continually support all CAT work where we can.

We ensure members of our HR team are present at CAT meetings to be a sounding board if needed. Additionally, an HR member is a Co-Chair of one of the subcommittees. 

That's a lot to digest, we know. But even the smallest steps in the right direction will make an impact within your organization and on your bottom line.

Does KCare Have an Official DEI Statement?

While KCare does not (yet) have an official DEI statement, this is our message:

KCare is passionate about every team member feeling safe to be their authentic selves. We show up for each other when we feel safe enough to be who we are and to belong. We show up for our work, our customers, and our communities. Kcare believes we all belong and can take that belonging from our work into our homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

We are building culture subcommittees at KCare to connect and collaborate (like DEI & Employee Engagement Survey) to continue to improve our culture. Additionally, we use various methods to communicate with staff, listen, hear, and show up.

For more actionable ideas about how to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and the benefits of diversity in the workplace, check out our CAT today.

 

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