In its 2022 consumer report, GWI highlighted two trends that are part of a larger social and cultural change. These trends will not just affect a business’s marketing and communication strategy, but also its operational structures and human resource (HR) policies.
Two trends, one solution?
- The first trend is labelled by GWI as the “great resignation.” This is fueled by a growing desire by many for a more purposeful career. This is increasingly making people leave their current position, even if they are generally satisfied with their job, and despite the economic uncertainty it may create.
- Consumers are bored by the “picture perfect.” They want to see what is real. This does not apply to physical realities only, but also their inner values. More and more, people connect to brands that are in line with their standards.
Tackling these issues with DEI
DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity is the presence of differences within a company. Equity is the delivery of processes and programs that are impartial and can provide equal possible outcomes for everyone. Inclusion is allowing people to feel a sense of belonging in a workplace.
McKinsey, in a 2015 study, showed that the level of DEI correlates with the profitability of businesses. This means that consumers can recognise when a real commitment to DEI features in a company’s purpose.
More importantly, considering the trends mentioned above, diversity, equity, and inclusion all relate to the social issues that matter to people nowadays, which is why DEI plays a role in creating purposeful career opportunities.
How successful a company implements DEI is determined by its processes, including talent acquisition, performance evaluation, reward system, promotion, and employee forums.
Because these policies are present across the whole employee life-cycle and organization, it is difficult to always know which one of those should be prioritised.
Successfully implementing DEI: A proposal
It is time for businesses to put on their marketing hats.
To successfully find the DEI processes that should be addressed first, businesses should think like marketers and put the customer – in this case, the employee – in the center of their decision-making.
Going further, companies should not differentiate between the motivations of consumers and employees. They both face the same dilemmas: having ambiguous feelings about their career and looking for a purpose in all areas of their life.
With that in mind, I believe that businesses should center their DEI policies around four key areas.
One: a clear company vision
According to Simon Sinek, a clear vision is an ideal and as such, it cannot be measured simply by hard KPIs. A company’s vision can be enormous, such as eradicating poverty or racial discrimination. Or it can be simply helping people to eliminate time-wasting activities in their lives and concentrate on what makes them happy. These all relate to the values that are important for people.
Two: a purposeful career
From one aspect a purposeful career relates to the company’s vision. As Simon Sinek says, if you can understand how your work contributes to the vision, you will have a purpose to pursue.
On the other hand, it also relates to the vision of an individual who is part of an organization. An organizational vision that aims to strengthen DEI can also contribute to the feeling of following a purposeful career.
Three: attracting the right talent
Successful DEI has, I believe, a lot to do with talent acquisition. For a company to achieve its DEI goals, it has to attract and hire people with diverse backgrounds and whose values align with DEI.
Joan C. Williams spoke about this in a Ted X Talk video, where she explains how to implement a better, data-driven approach to interrupt bias at work. A successful DEI will be mirrored in a company’s talent pool. Yet, many companies without diversity hire those who already reflect the people that are already hired.
Going further, CSR and philanthropy can also contribute to DEI. By creating opportunities for disadvantaged communities and individuals to have access to education, information, and funding, companies can grow their talent pools. A good example is the Rolex Award or Cartier Philanthropy.
Four: eliminating Silos
In business, “silos” refer to business divisions that operate independently and avoid sharing information.
Cross-departmental cooperation, however, is essential for business efficiency and better customer service. I believe, for two reasons, that it is the baseline for achieving DEI.
First, if there are problems with organizational values, they will be present across all departments. So HR might identify policies that help re-establishing standards, but the responsibility should be spread across all functions and levels.
Second, spreading responsibility and making people understand how they contribute to these values on an organizational level can help create purpose, increase employee retention and attract diverse talent.
What is HSE? The “E” in Health, Safety and Environment by
Buckle, Chase – Trifonova, Victoria – Morris, Tom – Beer, Chris – Moran, Shauna – Gilsenan, Katie – Gorman, Doug – GWI: Connecting The Dots (GWI, 2021.)
Heinz, Kate: What Does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Mean in the Workplace? (BuiltIn, 2021.)
Hunt, Vivian – Layton, Dennis – Prince, Sara: Why Diversity Matters? (McKinsey, 2015.)
Carmichael, Evan: Here’s How To Find Your PURPOSE in LIFE! | Simon Sinek | Top 10 Rules (YouTube, 2017)
Williams, Joan: Why corporate diversity programs fail (Ted X Talks, 2021.)