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QuestionPro Workforce DEI study

Research on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Shows Room for Improvement

QuestionPro Workforce President Sanja Licina Shares Insights

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QuestionPro Workforce, in partnership with EQ Community, recently released results from a US-based survey of employees focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The companies surveyed 1,000 full-time employees from 30 different industries.

The data paints a picture of companies not quite hitting the mark in this area, with only 60% of employees saying they were satisfied with DEI efforts at their company.

Dash Research spoke with Sanja Licina, Ph.D., President of QuestionPro Workforce, to get deeper insights into the data and chat about the ramifications that neglecting this area could cause. According to the research, DEI areas of particular concern, where employees were rarely satisfied with their company’s performance include:

  • Diversity of top leadership (57%)
  • Amount of action being taken to foster inclusivity (57%)
  • How the company discussed the importance of diversity (52%)
Sanja Licina, President, QuestionPro Workforce

DEI Performance Is Tied to Retention and Talent Acquisition

According to Licina, there are consequences to a company neglecting this area, particularly for retention. Thirty-seven percent of all workers say they would switch jobs to be part of a more inclusive culture and more specifically, 45% of Black workers, and 54% of managers. This trend is more pronounced when looked at by age group. Gen Z and Millennials are quite decisive about switching employers to be part of a more inclusive culture, with higher numbers of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would do so.

“Focus must be put on this area, or companies risk losing employees,” says Licina. “The statistic of 37% of employees potentially leaving for a more inclusive workplace is a strong reminder that this area cannot be neglected. For younger generations entering the workplace, wanting to be part of an inclusive workplace is more innate, natural, and expected, which may cause organizations to place more urgency on the issue.”

When asked about risks other than retention, Licina mentioned talent acquisition. “When people are selecting jobs today, they are much more in tune with ‘who am I talking with, who have I interacting with. Are there other people like me?’ Additionally, people are looking for different types of fulfillment from their job now other than compensation. People are placing value in having colleagues they are comfortable with, in an inclusive environment, where people to be open about who they are and what they need,” says Licina.

Levels of Satisfaction with Company and Manager Efforts

Building an inclusive culture is important, and the data shows there is room for improvement. Only 63% of workers were satisfied with how inclusive their company is, with Black workers expressing even less satisfaction (57%) compared to Latinos (64%) and Whites (66%). Women (60%) were also less satisfied with how inclusive their employer organization was compared to Men (70%). Similar to the lack of satisfaction with the company-level effort, 39% of workers were not satisfied with the effort their direct manager makes to create an inclusive team environment. The lack of satisfaction was greater among Black (44%) and Latino (46%) workers compared to Whites (36%), as well as Women (41%) compared to Men (34%).

DEI Efforts Require Ongoing Dialog

In terms of communication, a little over half (52%) of workers were satisfied with how frequently their company discusses the importance of diversity. According to Licina, “There needs to be an ongoing dialog from different parts of the organization and across the entire employee lifecycle. This includes making employees aware during onboarding of DEI efforts but also asking them about what their needs and experiences have been in terms of DEI, what are some of the best experiences they have had, and what have been areas of challenge they have seen in other organizations.”

These communications cannot just be from human resources or corporate communications, but they need to be conversations that every manager is having as well. “This continuing dialog helps to permeate the importance of this area throughout the organization. Surveys are great for urgency and priority, but it’s not a substitute for a manager checking in with employees,” says Licina.

These ongoing communications also need to include keeping employees in the loop about the results of feedback efforts. “Really effective communication is needed in this area. The expectation should definitely not be to have an initiative about every single question asked on a survey. But if topics aren’t asked about, such as DEI, the company won’t be able to identify the pain points to prioritize. And when priorities are chosen, a company needs to be honest about what areas they will be focusing on, why they were chosen, and be deeply thankful for the feedback that was given.”

Employees Welcome Inclusivity and Diversity

“It’s good to see that the conversation around DEI is really being elevated lately. It’s talked about a lot more and in general, there is higher awareness,” Licina shares. “One of the data points that came out of survey that I was really pleased seeing was what an overwhelmingly positive experience people are having working with people from different backgrounds.”

Source: QuestionPro

Licina mentions that typically, a person’s work life is filled with interacting with many of the same people day to day. People working on projects together or who are in the same department. It is not exactly top of mind to reach out to others not in this relatively small sphere and companies need to be proactive in helping make more interactions occur across the organization.

“It’s really hard to place yourself in someone else’s shoes when it comes to all these demographic differences so the more we can, in our work life, be supported in having opportunity to work with people and learn from people with different backgrounds, skillsets, demographic, the more benefit.”

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