The ROI of DEI: Insights from DEI Leaders
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential for creating a successful and thriving workplace.
A diverse workforce brings a variety of perspectives and experiences to the table, which can lead to better decision-making, innovation, and problem-solving. An inclusive workplace is one where all employees feel valued and respected, regardless of their background.
In a recent discussion, Syntrio’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Tammy Bryant, sat down with two industry leaders, Scott Blair, Senior Director for DEI at B.Braun Medical, Inc., and James Prysock, DEI Consultant, American Electric Power Company, Inc., to explore the importance of DEI in the workplace and to share best practices on how to create a successful DEI program strategy.
Here are some key questions and answers from the discussion:
- Can you provide specific examples of how you have shown an ROI through ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) or a Diversity Council?Employee Resource Groups, also commonly referred to as BRGs (Business Resource Groups) have direct alignment to business outcomes, talent optimization, performance development and workplace culture. Whether ERGs are new to your organization or fully established and already yielding an ROI, ERG governance, management, programming or measurement should reflect organizational culture.Our panel guests shared specific examples of ROI through ERGs, which resulted in leadership accountability, establishing a more diverse workforce, and creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace:
- Implemented diverse hiring panels resulting in an increase of BIPOC employees and veterans.
- DEI Playbook that provided leaders with a guide on how to help meet DEI objectives and how to be inclusive leaders.
- DEI summit which leveraged DEI Training for company leaders. Internal survey results have shown that leaders gained a deeper understanding of DEI foundation concepts, creation of employee book circles and presentations, and culture action plans across the enterprise.
- DEI Workshop with all operating companies which provided a productive space for employees to ask questions and brainstorm ideas.
- Teams such as Talent Management and Learning & Development integrate DEI into all their operations and company touchpoints.
- Women at Work ERG partnered with Human Resources to revise a more equitable and inclusive Parental Leave Policy
- Black ERG created its own mentorship program which allows leaders and executive sponsors to invest in the development and retention of Black talent.
- Veterans and People with Disabilities ERGs have partnered with Talent Acquisition to identify strategic partnerships which have yielded a broader talent pool.
- LGBTQ+ ERG partnered with Human Resources to revise more equitable and inclusive policies and benefits.
Our popular Employee Resource Group webinar is available here.
- In terms of DEI Training, what types of training have yielded the most ROI for your respective organizations and how have you measured the ROI?Organizations may be at different stages of their DEI journey. DEI training should align with organizational shared values, mission, commitment to diversity and inclusion and where an organization may be on the DEI Maturity Model. DEI Training can cover essential topics such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disabilities and much more. Some components of DEI Training might include:
- Understanding DEI in the Workplace
- Unconscious Bias
- Empathy and Allyship
- Discrimination and Harassment
- Psychological Safety
- Cultural Competence
- Inclusive Language
- Inclusive Leadership
The real ROI of DEI training is to create a healthy workplace culture that honors cultural differences of all employees.
The return on investment in DEI Training is beneficial to the employees, the organization and those they serve. Evidenced based data shows DEI training can skillfully utilize data trends, such as course completion rate, engagement/pulse surveys, talent management programs, etc.) to create a compelling case for DEI, while adding perspectives about the ethical and imperative and the positive impact on the business.
Our Accelerate Your DEI Journey webinar is available here.
- What if management does not support sending out surveys? Does it matter how much support you provide on why a survey is needed?This comment further supports the need to create a Speak Up and Listen Up Culture. Investment in DEI training and a foundational DEI program strategy would better prepare an organization to measure and analyze specific metrics that drive both performance and a healthy workplace culture.
- I’m a new DEI practitioner with no support from the organization I work with. What do you recommend I do? Before I can implement or do anything, I must share it with the CEO for him to review and 90% of the time he doesn’t support DEI fully because he’s afraid that too much could upset people. What do you recommend I do?Approach your DEI program strategy as a student of the business. Learn and understand the business and be able to link your DEI program strategy back to the business imperatives such as talent – recruitment, engagement, and retention and customers. Additionally, position DEI Training as an opportunity to foster belonging and a healthy workplace, which increases performance, innovation, and customer satisfaction. Clearly state the benefits of DEI Training include the following:
- Drives organizational impact.
- Creates communication vehicles for employee engagement and dialogue.
- Reduces discrimination, bias, and retaliation.
- Promotes a fair and equitable workplace.
- Activates a speak up culture for employees.
- Enables a listen up culture for leaders.
- I’m seeing “Belonging” being added to DEI conversations and strategies. How do you think belonging fits in (or not)? How does DEIB change, complement, or confuse?Belonging is directly related to the basic concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Belonging provides a feeling of acceptance and inclusion which is strongly correlated to high levels of engagement and increased support of business goals. When individuals feel a sense of belonging in the workplace it impacts both performance and retention, creating greater opportunities to share ideas, confidently speak up, and naturally unlocks the real power of DEI.
- What if a person becomes a first-time manager? Is there a program for them to get that same information about DEI?DEI Training is designed to increase understanding and appreciation for DEI in the workplace. Syntrio provides a comprehensive DEI training and learning course library that promotes and strengthens a diverse and inclusive workplace. We can help you along your journey, whether the focus is first to enlist leadership in a launch to DEI, the relaunch of a DEI initiative, or engaging your workforce through a broad-based DEI training and communications program.A potential first-time manager DEI roadmap should be inclusive of related curriculum and would look something like this:
- An Introduction to Unconscious Bias (8 min)
- Understanding Bias and Avoiding Common Mistakes (8 min)
- Micro-Behaviors and Other Messages (8 min)
- DE&I in Conversations (8 mins)
- Empathy and Allyship (8 mins)
- Introduction to Workplace Diversity (12 min)
- Introduction to Workplace Equity (12 min)
- Introduction to Workplace Inclusion (12 min)
- Month in Diversity Communication Tool (2 min)
DEI is an important element of a civil and respectful workplace, especially when part of a modern training program that includes harassment, discrimination and ethics and compliance courses. Visit our course library to request a complete catalog.
- With ERGs, and a remote workforce, how do you ensure that everyone is a part of it and not only the ones that raise their hands? There has been success in forming ERG subcommittees, both permanent and temporary. This enhances both individual and team performance. This inclusive approach provides diverse and unique opportunities fall everyone to demonstrate their skill set and it can also be seen as an opportunity for professional development regardless of geographic location. When employees feel a sense of belonging and their expertise is needed, they are more likely to contribute, provide feedback and be engaged. A robust internal DEI communication strategy, DEI Training, DEI monthly communication tools and alignment to your ERG mission, naturally generates employee interest in ERGs membership.
- How can I get my organization to buy in on a DEI initiative?
Research and data would be a powerful tool to get buy-in not only for a single DEI initiative, but also for your larger DEI program strategy. Approach DEI as a key business function that contributes to other key business priorities. Point out the ways in which your DEI initiative or overall DEI program strategy aligns with other business priorities. For example, it would not be logical to build a product without a roadmap, a meaningful DEI program strategy is no different. This approach can help leaders see the value in building a strategic DEI roadmap that shows an ROI year over year. If DEI Training is a single DEI initiative that is included in your overall DEI Program Strategy, track metrics.
- Are your ERGs open to everyone or those that have been appointed?
This depends on each organization and how they choose to structure Employee Resource Groups. Common ERG membership best practices include membership for all employees. Typically, the roles of co-chairs are appointed by senior leadership.
- Our company struggles to measure ROI in terms of diversity partnerships and DEI career fairs. How do you recommend a company track progress, and do you recommend setting goals around hiring from diverse organizations?
DEI is directly related to talent management. Organizational outreach or diversity partnerships can yield an ROI through brand recognition for your organization and diverse talent. Human Resources/Talent Acquisition and IT would benefit from collaboration around applicant tracking technology that has the capability to track applicant sources to include diversity partnerships.
- What’s the best way to collect data if employees are experiencing survey fatigue?
Your employees are your most asset and creating a speak up and listen up culture is critical. Making sure employees feel valued and heard is key to a healthy workplace culture. If your organization is experiencing survey fatigue, think of other ways to create employee communication vehicles such as Employee Hotlines, DEI Training and Communication Tools and Listening Sessions/Focus Groups. Additionally, the action plans and communication efforts associated with survey results should be revisited for both accountability and internal communications, so employees are aware of the progress that has resulted from previous engagement surveys.