Summary of APA-Robert Half webinar from April 26, 2023

The convening of different life experiences and perspectives, enabled by an inclusive workplace environment, creates benefits for an organization that include higher retention rates, reduced attrition, and increased job satisfaction and innovation among employees.

That’s a large part of the reason more and more companies are embracing the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and creating workplaces that start with people. And in a hiring environment with still-low unemployment and a quit rate that remains historically high, a business case can also be made for bringing DEI front and center in your organization.

Many of today’s employees and job candidates will not join or continue to work for a company that doesn’t promote diverse thinking and create a sense of belonging. Research from global talent solutions firm Robert Half shows that 80% of executives think investing in DEI initiatives will lead to tangible benefits for their companies, including improved recruitment and retention.

The accounting and finance department — where payroll functions most often sit — has made progress in broadening representation in recent years, at least below the senior level. Research shows that females now comprise the majority of those working in the industry, and more than a fifth are nonwhite professionals. However, men comprise 80% of senior payroll positions. So, there’s work to be done.

Your company’s DEI journey

If you are a company leader who’d like to start or enhance DEI awareness in your organization, first recognize that DEI is not just a human resources (HR) function. To be successful, it needs to live and breathe within all teams across all departments.

The second thing to recognize is that the way the DEI journey is approached and pursued will look different from organization to organization, and that’s how it should be. Not all programs need to look alike.

Following are some tips for moving forward with DEI.

  • Get support from leadership. Leadership buy-in is critical to implementing DEI initiatives at all levels of your organization. You can help secure it by setting measurable goals and explaining how you’ll use data to track your program’s success.
  • Facilitate employee resource groups. Each of a company’s employee resource groups or employee network groups (ENGs) brings together colleagues from a historically underrepresented community (e.g., women, LGBTQ+ and Black employees). These groups offer safe spaces where employees can find support, advocacy and allyship through member meetings, events, skills development and awareness.
  • Model inclusive language and behaviors. Managers and HR professionals need to be the change they want to see in the workplace. The impact of nixing gendered terms from your employee handbook, for example, will be severely diluted if you continue to use this language in emails and other communications.
  • Find and hire diverse candidates. In addition to its other advantages, offering flexible work allows you to hire from talent pools in distant geographies that may be more diverse than the local talent pool.
  • Leverage your networks. The better your DEI program, the more willing current employees and members of your alumni network will be to recommend your company to candidates from the groups you’re trying to reach. Other ways to create new talent pipelines include partnering with organizations that promote diversity and setting up internship programs for people traditionally underrepresented in your industry.

Unlocking perspectives and voices

An effective leader recognizes the importance of embracing differences in people and knowing how to connect the dots among those differences to get the best outcomes from the team.

There are bottom-line implications if you don’t start to talk about it. That’s why there is a great opportunity now to integrate these efforts into the business DNA of the company.