Alice Twu
September 20, 2023

Here’s why your employees don’t trust your DEI strategy

In recent years, leaders have emphasized the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and pledged to incorporate more efforts into company-wide initiatives. As time passed, many organizations have put their DEI work on the back burner, and employees see that.

Recent budget cuts have led employees, especially those from underrepresented groups, to view some companies’ DEI work as performative.

Oftentimes, executives reduce DEI teams and budgets when it’s time to reduce costs. Employees from historically marginalized communities who rely on DEI initiatives to feel a sense of belonging start to question how committed the organization is to building inclusive and equitable workplaces. Over time, this leads to lower employee trust, which impacts performance, engagement, and retention.

During economic uncertainties and organizational changes, it’s crucial to create a culture of belonging and transparency to retain your best talent and protect your employer brand.

If you’re looking for more insight, below are four reasons why employees don’t trust your DEI efforts and our tips on creating a DEI strategy that employees understand and support.

Employees don’t see action behind your company’s promises.

DEI is more than one training or conversation. It requires research, a budget, and long-term planning. Organizations must support and model DEI work at the leadership level to show genuine commitment. That sets the tone and motivation for long-term DEI work.

Individuals from historically marginalized groups are more likely to feel that their employer should be doing more to increase diversity in the workplace. But few businesses have allocated a sufficient budget specifically for DEI initiatives.

If your team wants to maintain DEI momentum but has limited resources, we encourage you to start with an open conversation. Gather your team for a company-wide training on the foundation of DEI, authentic allyship, or anti-bias and inclusion. This helps boost employee engagement and ensures all team members have a basic understanding of what an equitable and inclusive workplace looks like.

Employees feel their voices aren’t being heard.

Implementing DEI initiatives that don’t take employee sentiments into consideration is like baking a birthday cake for someone without knowing what flavors they like or what they’re allergic to.

If you’re a company leader who wants to create an inclusive recruitment strategy to improve diversity, ask employees what communities and cultures they feel are missing from the organization. This is a key step to building a culture of belonging where all team members feel valued and supported. Employee satisfaction tends to be dominated by the majority, so organizations must solicit feedback directly from underrepresented groups to ensure all voices are heard.

At Perfeqta, we can work with your leadership team to conduct a DEI audit and get a better understanding of the current state of your DEI strategy and employee sentiments. We then identify the next steps your team can take to start filling in the gaps.

There aren’t any meaningful goals or data to support your DEI plan.

Employees want to see their organizations set clear, well-researched goals, especially those that address challenges faced by diverse groups. Here are a few metrics your organization can gather from HR documents, surveys, and focus groups:

  • Inclusive hiring: How diverse is your candidate pool, hiring team, and new hires?
  • Employee demographics: What communities and diverse backgrounds do your employees belong to? Your leadership team?
  • Employee satisfaction: How engaged are employees? Do they participate in DEI or Employee Resource Group initiatives? How would employees describe their work experience?
  • Advancement: How many employees have been promoted or received raises? What groups do these employees belong to?
  • Employee retention: How many employees stay at the company and what groups do those employees belong to?

There is no communication or transparency from the company.

When company leaders aren’t communicating DEI goals or progress updates, employees feel like they’re left in the dark. Even if the company is making progress, team members might not know about it.

Employees want leaders to hold themselves accountable to DEI commitments through transparent communication. Don’t just share what your 5-year DEI plan is, but explain in detail where your organization is at the moment, how you plan to advance, and any roadblocks that may hinder progress, such as team downsizing or budget cuts.  

There’s nothing wrong with a growing company changing plans and priorities as long as all team members understand what’s going on behind the scenes.

Are you ready to have engaging conversations about DEI in the workplace?

Perfeqta’s in-person and virtual training sessions are tailored to help all team members identify their roles in building a safe and inclusive workplace while prioritizing their professional growth. We provide participants with the resources they need to share their challenges, listen to feedback, and talk through actionable solutions.

Learn more about our company training sessions here.

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