DEI stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. While most people responsible for corporate learning and development (L&D) initiatives and human resources (HR) are likely familiar with the acronym, many are less clear about how intrinsically connected these values are for creating purpose-driven and healthy workplaces — and how to achieve them.
While DEI should matter to every organization and team, training’s purview requires particular concern with DEI indicators and initiatives as they affect recruitment, hiring requirements, onboarding, professional development initiatives and creating healthy, safe workplaces. A diverse and inclusive workplace helps each employee bring their best, most effective selves to work. In an equitable environment, employees are happy and proud to be a part of their organization and team.
Consequences of Poor DEI Efforts
Companies lose a lot if they fail to create and prioritize DEI training and initiatives. That’s because diverse teams are more effective than homogenous work groups. Research clearly shows that a lack of DEI initiatives means missing out on the potential to hire incredible candidates, as well as the ability to create more thoughtful and impactful teams—plus risking higher levels of costly employee turnover.
A lack of emphasis on DEI initiatives can also negatively impact employee authenticity. When teams are less diverse, organizations miss out on the unique perspectives that people with different backgrounds, attitudes and thinking styles can offer. Similarly, when there’s a lack of inclusion for all team members in a company, some employees will feel they’re on the sidelines or being left behind. When unique perspectives aren’t valued, employees have little incentive to try harder or be innovative, which hurts the company’s bottom line while dampening their engagement.
HR Tech as a DEI Tool
What’s the solution to help avoid these adverse outcomes? DEI initiatives and training backed by HR technology can help businesses improve workplace engagement and prevent problems with toxic corporate culture. The result is an ability to retain top talent and create better outcomes for the company and employees. The goal of using HR tech is to find ways to see and celebrate the unique qualities of all employees, which can, in turn, create an inclusive culture at its roots. By focusing on employees’ unique characteristics, tech can bridge the gap between the divergent needs of different individuals, helping those employees feel both seen and supported.
But how can HR technology help achieve these ambitious goals? The fact is that leaders don’t know what they don’t know — and tech solutions can make these hidden factors visible. In other words, if a company’s employees largely mirror one another and L&D and HR aren’t prioritizing DEI initiatives, then without HR tech, the organization, and leadership will likely remain blind to the factors that negatively impact employee retention, satisfaction and productivity.
Hybrid Work Heightens the Need for DEI
The new normal of hybrid work spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic heightens the need for tech that connects all employees, regardless of their physical location. Today’s workers are looking for DEI to apply to all groups in a hybrid workplace, emphasizing flexibility and inclusion in an environment that honors their whole identity and compensates them fairly.
The hybrid workplace requires L&D teams and managers to consider additional factors that could impact their DEI training and goals. It’s important to consider questions like how to improve access for all employees, including those in remote and hybrid roles, how biases will impact employees in hybrid work, and whether the remote staff is being managed differently than office staff based on where they work.
Appreciation and Gratitude
Let’s explore how technology can aid in eliminating bias to improve DEI. One tech tool that can boost DEI is an online appreciation platform, facilitating the recognition of all groups of employees, regardless of who they are or where they want. An online appreciation platform can be so compelling because appreciation is an antidote to many workplace woes, from a lack of engagement to poor DEI statistics.
In a hybrid or remote workplace, the type of appreciation that works best — and helps support DEI efforts the most — is often asynchronous and peer-to-peer appreciation. To understand why this style is meaningful, consider that some key contributors are highly visible and thus easy for managers to acknowledge as successful. For example, when a charismatic salesperson closes a big deal, a highlight in a company meeting or Slack channel is common. But what about the unsung heroes, shy contributors or behind-the-scenes warriors whose contributions may be less apparent?
An online appreciation platform that allows for asynchronous and peer-to-peer appreciation gives all employees, including those who don’t seek a spotlight, the ability to extend public gratitude to others in a regular and visible way. That means that everyone —not just managers, but the employees themselves — can give and receive appreciation for their accomplishments, regardless of their department, rank or physical location. It levels the playing field.
Not Simple — but Simplified
With this in mind, consider how appreciation and gratitude play a role in a company’s DEI initiatives. Are all employees receiving the recognition they deserve? Do they feel valued and included in their work environment? If yes, companies can see higher rates of employee turnover and engagement across teams.
Attracting a diverse talent pool is impossible if employees aren’t working from a place of feeling valued for who they are and what unique offerings they bring to the table. Technology can help by taking a more inclusive approach to expressing appreciation and gratitude, thus boosting the effectiveness of DEI initiatives. Creating a culture of gratitude isn’t simple work, but technology can make it simpler — and it’s worth every ounce of effort to make all employees feel valued and safe in their workplace.