10 actions to achieve diversity, equity & inclusion objectives

01 September 2021 Consulting.us 4 min. read
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A growing number of companies are seeking to advance their diversity, equity & inclusion agenda. Based on an extensive review of more than 100 researches and best practices internationally, experts from Bain & Company and Grads of Life present ten evidence-based actions that can help companies achieve their diversity, equity & inclusion goals.

1) Express C-suite commitment and formalize accountably

As they do with any element of a company's culture, leaders set the tone on diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI). They have the power and responsibility to institute the right systems to ensure accountability. When a CEO sets the strategy and frequently communicates DEI progress, a company is 6.3 times more likely to have a diverse leadership team – and to be an industry leader.

2) Adopt a skills-first approach to talent acquisition

Traditional talent acquisition practices can be exclusionary by nature. Adopting a skills-first approach is a clear way to start mitigating this issue. Employers report that nongraduates with experience perform nearly or equally as well as college graduates on critical dimensions such as productivity, time to promotion or amount of oversight required.

10 ways to achieve diversity, equity & inclusion objectives

3) Diversify talent pipelines through work-based experience

Registered apprenticeships offer robust “learn and earn” opportunities, allowing people to access high-paying jobs without incurring student debt. In most cases, apprenticeships do not require applicants to have four-year degrees or even previous experience. What's more, 91% of apprentices find full-time employment upon completing their apprenticeship.

4) Provide family-sustaining wages and benefits

Living wages and benefits are fundamental to racial equity, given that Black and Latinx workers disproportionately occupy hourly frontline roles in service industries, which tend to pay minimum wage with limited benefits.

To enable the strongest outcomes for their employees, executives can conduct pay equity analysis and report on results transparently, design retirement plans with features like automatic deposit to help workers save for the future, and provide scheduling predictability and flexibility for hourly workers.

5) Communicate skills-based career pathways

For all employees, the opportunity to advance and earn higher wages is a key factor in satisfaction and an indicator of job quality. Clear career paths are particularly important for diverse and underrepresented workers, who disproportionately feel more isolated and uncertain at work compared with their white peers.

 When an organization documents its career paths and the skills needed to advance, making the information transparent to all, there is less room for racial or gender bias to inform promotion decisions.

6) Offer voluntary DEI training for all

Research shows that voluntary diversity, equity & inclusion training improves racial and ethnic representation within companies, leading to 9% to 13% increases in Black men, Hispanic men, and Asian American men and women in management after five years. This is in contrast to mandatory training, which has been proven to backfire – compulsory programs can have harmful effects on the retention and advancement of underrepresented groups.

7) Listen to and learn from experiences of employees

A sense of belonging and engagement is part of the foundation of a good job for anyone – and the ultimate goal of every diversity, equity & inclusion effort. When employees are engaged and feel heard and respected, they contribute more meaningfully at work. Bain & Company research has found that companies with highly engaged workers grow revenue 2.5 times faster than companies with low worker engagement levels.

8) Invest resources in cross-training and upskilling

Investing in upskilling low-wage workers can dramatically expand economic opportunity for the people who need it most. It also helps solve an increasingly urgent business challenge: According to the World Economic Forum, companies estimate that by 2024, nearly 40% of workers will need up to six months of upskilling.

9) Build a diverse supply chain

Companies that diversify their supplier bases tap into the economy's full potential and enjoy stronger business outcomes: Those in the top quartile of spending on diverse suppliers save an additional 0.7 percentage points in total procurement expenditures. Diverse procurement can also help companies strengthen their ability to serve as well as their connections with critical growing customer bases.

10) Create mentoring and sponsorship programs

On average, mentoring programs boost the representation of Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men, by 9% to 24%. What's more, one study shows that people of color who advance the furthest in their careers share a single attribute: a network of mentors and sponsors who have advocated for them along the way.