Even with all the recent changes in the labor market, employees still have the upper hand in their employment. Unemployment continues to be at an all-time low, and hiring managers need people to fill serious skills gaps.
Providing an outstanding employee experience is as essential as ever, with employees expecting opportunities for advancement, inclusive cultures, and competitive benefits.
When I worked in HR, I had the opportunity to help lead DEI efforts as a talent acquisition executive for a Fortune 50 organization. Anyone working to develop diverse talent pipelines knows that an inclusive work environment must also be waiting for those candidates on the other side. Diversity efforts and inclusive results can only happen when everyone in talent — and across the organization — is committed to pulling their weight.
How does DEI come into play when building a standout employee experience?
Unfortunately, a record number of DEI leaders have recently left their roles, demonstrating a possible lack of commitment from senior leadership. But, even if the spotlight on DEI has dimmed, employee experience experts know that infusing equality and inclusion into that experience is essential for retaining top talent.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving DEI success, several strategies and programs have been effective in helping organizations progress and getting stakeholders involved from every corner of the company.
I recently joined a panel with Nicole Sloane, Employee Experience Leader at Kimberly-Clark, and Emma Woodthorpe, Chief People Officer at Brooks Automation, to get to the heart of the issue and uncover the tools and techniques that can contribute to success in an organization’s DEI efforts. With a host of experiences across different industries, we also discussed how leaders could implement various programs to create a fair and inclusive employee experience.
Watch the complete panel discussion with employee experience leaders from Kimberly-Clark, Brooks Automation, and Eightfold AI to understand better the tools and techniques for creating an inclusive work environment.
Here are six leadership and management tools and techniques for fostering an inclusive culture.
Best practices for building and maintaining diverse and inclusive teams
Structured development programs that focus on specific outcomes and include training, advisers, and advocates have been successful in helping individuals understand their potential for growth within an organization. In addition, by increasing their visibility and networks, these programs can benefit those with fewer opportunities for development and advancement.
Several approaches and programs have proven successful in the past, including:
- Reverse mentorship programs. These programs involve newer or junior employees mentoring more experienced employees to foster mutual learning and understanding. These interactions and relationships help create a sense of belonging that facilitates sharing different perspectives and experiences.
- Values programs. By highlighting and recognizing employees who embody the organization’s values, teams can create connections and promote the desired culture within the company. Teams can achieve this through peer nomination and employee recognition programs that recognize and reward individuals who demonstrate the behaviors and values that the organization is trying to promote.
- Equity analyses. This includes examining competency and leader models to ensure that they drive the behaviors necessary for an equitable and inclusive workplace. Organizations should also look at their policies, systems, and language to build equity at every level.
The role of technology in promoting DEI in the workplace
Technology also plays a transformative role in DEI. Here are a few of the most transformative technologies every HR leader should have on their radar:
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have the potential to help us better understand and address biases in the workplace. Imagine using VR to “walk in someone else’s shoes” and experience life differently. These technologies have the potential to help us create more inclusive and equitable work environments for all employees.
- AI and talent intelligence provide insights and recommendations by combining diverse data sources and focusing on skills rather than traditional qualifications like a title or degree. Using skills intelligence helps remove barriers to opportunity, allows organizations to consider a wider pool of talent for roles, and expands potential career paths for individuals. In addition, using technology to focus on skills and skill adjacencies can help organizations make more informed decisions at scale.
- Social network analysis helps organizations understand how work gets done and identifies key players, hubs of activity, and areas of isolation or disengagement. This type of analysis can identify individuals performing crucial work in driving results that may not be evident by title, level, or org chart, as well as identify team members on the sidelines for some reason. These tools aim to improve equity and inclusion, especially in remote and decentralized work formats, but managers should avoid using them for surveillance or eavesdropping.
Tying DEI to business outcomes
For a more inclusive and flexible employee experience, it’s important for leaders to have an open and honest dialogue with organizational stakeholders, gather data and feedback through engagement surveys, and be open to testing new approaches.
By tying the success of DEI efforts to the company’s success, leaders can inspire and motivate their teams to work toward a common goal of creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all employees. The C-suite will be thrilled when those approaches pay off in the form of improved job satisfaction, productivity and output, and broader innovation.
Jason Cerrato is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Eightfold AI. Before joining Eightfold, he was an HCM industry analyst with Gartner and held talent leadership positions at United Technologies for over a decade. Cerrato is the co-host of The New Talent Code, a podcast by Eightfold AI.
Ready to learn more? Tune into the entire conversation in the webinar “Connect, Engage, Thrive: Tools and Techniques to create a fair and inclusive employee experience.”