As a nation, our differences create a rich tapestry of influences, innovations, insights and perspectives. Yet all around us, we see increasing attacks on Asian Americans, Blacks, Hispanics and people of differing religions and cultures. Many of our colleagues, family members and friends live in fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Some might say, “We’re doing better in corporate and government institutions.” But are we?
Current data tells a different story. In 2019 and 2020, there were over 140,000 EEOC discrimination cases in the US at a cost of over 400 billion dollars. And, even with spending $8 billion a year, it is difficult to make diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts stick.
After the escalating racial unrest in 2020, according to a recent McKinsey study, only 32% of the Top 1000 companies made statements in support of racial justice. Of these same companies, 22% made external commitments to improve inequities, while internally, only 18% made commitments to promote greater inclusion with diverse hiring, promotion, etc.
Instead of doing something transformative, the solution most companies offer is training. Yet, according to Harvard Business Review, 75% of companies are making at least one mistake with their DE&I training. One of our own clients told us about the unintended consequences to their DE&I training efforts:
🔴 A fear of doing or saying the wrong thing led to fewer conversations among diverse employees.
🔴 Leaders avoided difficult conversations about sensitive topics.
🔴 Employees invited fewer diverse team members to participate in initiatives.
🔴 Employees resisted learning when they felt judged, blamed or shamed.
We understand that DE&I training is needed and know that it can be effective. However, as a leader, if you’re not sure if you’re making mistakes and to increase your training ROI, ask yourself the following Five Questions:
🟢 Do you start with an assessment to identify DE&I gaps to customize your efforts?
🟢 Does your training include time for skill building and practice (not just information downloads)?
🟢 Do you provide tools to help your managers reinforce the learning?
🟢 Have you built ways to measure the outcomes and ensure accountability?
🟢 And finally, is your training voluntary?
If you can answer yes to these five questions, your efforts are more likely to encourage greater acceptance and more inclusive practices. If not, please reach out for ways we can help. Remember, when you create a culture where employees are valued, feel essential and belong, you increase retention and productivity as well as reduce your litigation risk. Not only is it the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.
For more information, please contact Marley Bollinger, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practice Leader.
Kittie Watson, Ph.D.
President & Founder