The landmark events of 2020 surrounding systemic racism have led many companies to proactively consider their practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Other developments, such as the ongoing job losses directly resulting from COVID-19 that are impacting women far more than men, have also intensified awareness of inequities throughout the World of Work and are placing additional pressure on corporations to rectify these imbalances.
For some, these events present an opportunity to reevaluate and enhance their current DE&I efforts. For others, they may prompt the development and execution of actions and practices to promote DE&I for the first time, both within and outside of their organizations. Regardless of where an organization currently stands, it’s clear that DE&I can no longer be treated as a simple HR initiative to mark complete.
We continue to see proof that the benefits of diversity of thought within a team accrue and multiply, both culturally and fiscally. DE&I needs to be seen as a business imperative that is acknowledged, understood, and embodied by the leadership team — and it needs to continuously evolve and modernize alongside our workforce.
Talent access professionals play an increasingly important role in promoting DE&I as they advise their clients on effective talent strategies. We asked several of our Network owners who are committed to DE&I progress for their takes on where we are, what we need to do, and how to achieve the best outcomes for everyone.
What DE&I Really Means
While diversity, equity, and inclusion are often grouped together, the three concepts do have unique meanings that are important to understand. “Diversity is our reality: the world is richly made up of different cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities,” explains Amy Woolf, Director of the Woolf Partnership in London. “Inclusion is our choice to include people who think, act, look, and behave differently to us. Equity is about creating an even playing field.” Woolf explains that we’ve grouped them together because they’re so intrinsically intertwined. “Each of the topics is vital for our success; diversity without inclusion doesn’t work, and inclusion without equity leaves people feeling disenfranchised.”
Chris Yee, Managing Partner, Zenith Search Partners, emphasizes just how far the concept of diversity spans. “Sometimes diversity is obvious: race, gender, and age. But often, diversity means a diversity of thought or experience base,” he says.
For Geneva Taylor, Managing Director of Tellis Executive Search, DE&I means more than just having a seat at the table. “As a black female in STEM, I’d add that it means knowing there is a room, a table, and a seat where you are seen, you are heard, and you have a voice.”
Why It Matters
Our Network has seen first hand that hiring a diverse team broadens a company’s perspective in a way that directly benefits its bottom line. A top concern for any HR team is the cost of attrition should a great hire find a better opportunity. “If your competition offers more encouragement and opportunity than your company does, you will lose top talent to competitors who are tackling