DEI&B Is Paramount In Sound Employee Experiences
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) are critical components of every organizational strategy. DEI&B refers to four values that work together to strengthen team dynamics, productivity, and innovation within your organization . As of late, organizations are focusing on their employee experience strategy. The employee experience includes everything the employee sees, hears, feels, learns, and does in your organization during their tenure.
However, most organizations have separate teams leading each of these efforts, build these strategies separately, and apply them individually and in parallel, if at all. As a result, both strategy implementations suffer, strategy rollouts overlap, leaders mix their messages, and the employee experience and DEI&B efforts become confusing and even superficial. So how do you ensure that your DEI&B and employee experience strategies align? This article offers three tactics to help you align the two strategies to optimize your results.
1. Listen To Employees’ Needs And Wants Around DEI&B And The Employee Experience
The first step is to listen to your employees and their needs and wants around DEI&B and the employee experience. As shared in an earlier article in this series, your employee experience strategy focuses on the critical touchpoints between the employee and your organization. These touchpoints include what the employee sees, feels, learns, and does in your organization. You must listen closely to what they are saying and not saying. Your employee observations and feedback will very likely also address elements of DEI&B. Do your employees feel represented in the organization? Do they have the specific tools and opportunities they each need to succeed? Do they feel included in their teams? Do they feel they must hide aspects of who they are in order to belong?
You can send out short surveys and follow up with small group discussions to collect quantitative and qualitative data. The process of collecting employee feedback must underscore the importance of psychological safety for all involved and be rolled out carefully and mindfully. You will need to review and codify the feedback to identify gaps between employees’ needs and wants and organizational strategic goals and objectives. Depending on the size of your organization, this step can take between two to four weeks.
2. Review The Strategies And Fuse Them Into One
Now the hard work begins. You will need to review your organization’s DEI&B strategy and the employee experience strategy separately, as well as together, to identify biases, gaps, and overlaps between them and compare them to the employee data you collected. This step may require DEI&B experts and advisors to guide you. Identifying biases can be difficult as it involves taking a deep look into organizational values and how things are done in your organization. In her Harvard Business Review article, Elizabeth Tipper offers ten strategies to mitigate bias, including identifying hidden decision-makers and revealing hidden decisions . Both of these strategies may reveal elements hindering your DEI&B efforts that may unconsciously exclude certain employees from opportunities and career growth, which in turn may result in negative employee experiences. Reviewing the employee experience data will validate these biases, gaps, and overlaps.
Next, you will need to fuse the two strategies, because DEI&B is not an “add-on” to your strategy but the foundation for optimizing the employee experience. To do this, you will need to invite key stakeholders, leaders, and employees to work together to create the new fused strategy. In her article “Workplace Equity through L&D,” Dr. Shindale Seale discusses five strategies to incorporate DEI&B values across the organization, including talent acquisition, talent development, and learning and training programs. You can follow the steps discussed earlier in an article in this series. Depending on the size of your organization and the analysis of your respective strategies, this step may take between four to five weeks.
3. Launch, Measure, Iterate, Repeat
Once you have the new and improved strategy that embeds DEI&B values into the employee experience, you will need to craft a rollout strategy that is exciting, engaging, and authentic. You must engage the organization’s leaders, business unit leaders, and employees at all levels to discuss the new strategy through online events, articles, videos, open office hours, and activities across your organization. Your goal is to inspire employees to embrace and believe in the new strategy. Next, you will need to measure the rollout results and the strategy itself. The rollout can take one or two weeks, and the measurement of the rollout out can take a further one to two weeks. How many employees attended the events? How many participated in the activities? How many viewed the videos?
You will also need to collect qualitative data from soundbites, surveys, and small group online discussions. You can compare this initial data to the data you had collected during the first step for a pulse check on the rollout. The true impact of the strategy will need time to manifest. Depending on the size of your organization, this time frame can be anywhere from 6–12 months. At the 12 month mark, you will need to collect employee data again to discern the impact of the strategy. Based on the results and the comparison to your initial data, you will then iterate on the strategy, tweak the elements that did not hit the mark, and relaunch. Within 18–24 months, you should be able to see the positive impact of your new strategy in employee Net Promoter Scores, employee retention, and the other metrics you use.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are values that must be embedded in the organizational strategy and the employee experience. By incorporating DEI&B within your employee experience strategy, you are setting your organization up for success, because you will have happier and more engaged employees who will deliver better customer experiences and achieve improved performance outcomes. While such a journey may take up to 24 months before you can see the positive results, it begins with you in Learning and Development and the single step of embracing the importance of DEI&B and recognizing that it is intrinsically woven with the employee experience.