DEI cannot be overlooked in your M&A

Companies should show-not tell-when it comes to DEI Initiatives

From bootstrapped startups to Fortune 500 companies, businesses across the spectrum have been gradually putting more emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

And they’re not just doing it because it’s in the best interest of society or because it polishes their reputations. Having a workforce and leadership team that is inclusive of people from different walks of life, races, religions and sexual orientations is phenomenally good for the bottom line. Each day, we see new reports come out revealing how more diverse companies are financially outperforming less diverse companies by double-digit percentages, making a strong business case for other organisations to follow suit.

As the new year picks up steam, there is yet another reason why companies need to prioritise DEI efforts: the competition for the best talent, which only grows fiercer as the “Great Resignation” continues.

As the Chief Revenue Officer of a company that employs hundreds of people — and is actively adding to the team — I can tell you first-hand that the best and brightest job candidates are increasingly asking about DEI initiatives. And if they don’t get the answer they are looking for; it’s a deal-breaker for them.

Job candidates have always wanted to feel like they are getting the chance to join a vibrant work culture and a great team, but today, they are in a position to demand it – and that’s exactly what desirable talent is doing. When candidates bring up DEI in job interviews, they expect more than mere lip service. They want any prospective employer to show, not tell, when it comes to the company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Companies that can show cohesive DEI plans and measurement tools, along with a diverse and inclusive workforce, are in a position to win the ongoing war for talent. Here are three ways companies can proactively demonstrate to candidates that DEI is a core company value and not merely a box to check off:

Have a policy in writing

Increasingly, job candidates are not just asking whether companies have DEI policies; they are asking to see it in writing. In my current role, I take part in many job interviews with talented, bright candidates we are keen to hire. From experience, I can tell you that DEI is no longer a yes-or-no question, as candidates often request to see a tangible document that showcases our policy and exactly what we’re doing as leaders to actively work toward these goals.

For this reason, companies who want the best talent need to think in terms of full transparency when it comes to building a diverse workplace, making their commitment and plans readily available in writing.

Use social media

Work culture is extremely important to today’s job seekers, and DEI programmes are an increasingly important pillar of culture. Twitter, LinkedIn and other social channels can be great platforms for companies to highlight their supportive, inclusive and engaging culture.

When it comes to finding out how diverse a company is, candidates will do their research and use a company’s social media profiles to learn everything they can about the workforce, the leadership team and the company culture before stepping foot in the building.

Just about every company has aspects about their culture they want to highlight, and it’s important to meet prospective candidates where they already are. Through social media content, employers can show, not tell, that an inclusive culture is a core value for the organisation.

Measure success

In broad terms, companies need to get more systematic about DEI to create programmes that work and can be demonstrated to job candidates. A recent report found that companies still have a lot of work to do on this front, as 76% of the 800 companies recently surveyed by Josh Bersin had no solid DEI plan in place for the year ahead.

Determining the proper metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your DEI strategy on an ongoing basis is also important. No two companies are the same, so no two companies will use the same techniques to determine if their business is flourishing as it becomes more inclusive and diverse. Examples of DEI metrics that can be measured include whether the company’s customer service scores are improving, how engagement from a social media campaign that highlights the company’s culture is performing, or the quality and diversity of job candidates inquiring about positions.

At Global Upside, a Safeguard Global company, we monitor various metrics such as the demographic breakdown across the company, pay equity, and overall employee satisfaction through the implementation of regular anonymous surveys. These comprehensive measurements allow us to analyse any imbalances or underrepresentation to constantly make improvements.

While the ongoing war for talent is a major driver for DEI initiatives, it doesn’t stop with hiring. Companies expanding overseas, or pursuing growth by acquiring other companies, are also increasingly being asked to demonstrate that they have built a diverse and inclusive culture.

Those who intend to do business with your company — whether they are job candidates, potential business partners or acquisition targets — want to ensure they are doing business with an organisation that takes diversity and inclusion seriously. As someone involved in the hiring process — and international expansion — I can confidently say that the days of merely  “checking a box” or making a hollow DEI pledge are long gone.

By Adam Sheffield, Chief Revenue Officer at Global Upside.

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