Initiatives to enhance workplace diversity, equity and inclusion are more important than ever in the era of The Great Resignation, says Mona Garland at CHEP, an Atlanta-based manufacturer of pallets, crates and containers used for transportation within supply chains.
Garland, the company’s vice president human resources North America and global inclusion and diversity business lead, shares how DE&I initiatives can attract and retain employees, why there must be buy-in at the very top levels of the organization and what happens when employees bring their authentic selves to the workplace.
Why is it more important than ever to create DE&I initiatives as a CHRO?
Now more than ever, employees want to feel valued as an integral part of an organization. Not only do they want to feel that they’re making a difference, but also that they belong.
In this era of The Great Resignation, so many companies are experiencing heralds of change in the way the workforce views their relationship with employers. Employees are unequivocally saying they want to work for organizations that encourage them to bring their full, authentic selves to work every day. And companies need to listen. Employees want to work for an organization that supports both who they are and the causes in which they believe. A strong commitment to DE&I not only positively impacts company culture and employee well-being, but also has a powerful impact on surprising areas such as innovation and customer satisfaction because employees are more empowered and happier.
According to Deloitte, 74 percent of millennials believe their organizations foster innovation when an inclusive culture exists. This data validates the link between DE&I and a perceived culture of innovation. Millennials also view a strong DE&I culture as fresh and inviting, where people are free to be and think like themselves. Employees don’t feel bound to conformity, allowing them to be innovative and add more value across the board. I cannot think of more compelling reasons for DE&I initiatives to be top-of-mind for all business leaders.
How can CHROs begin contributing to their organization’s DE&I initiatives?
CHROs are in a unique position to impact their company’s DE&I initiatives and, in many cases, are already contributing to or championing the cause within the organization. Expanding your knowledge and perspective through continuing education and learning—whether through formal courses, focused readings or intentional conversations—is a great place to start. The foundation built will help you hold your leadership teams accountable for creating and implementing DE&I initiatives and ultimately modeling the behaviors they want to see in their teams.
To gain buy-in from boards and executive leadership, CHROs must be deliberate in their efforts to support DE&I initiatives and tie these to the business strategy. Many companies are seeking or have retained a DE&I leader who can demonstrate an organization’s commitment to DE&I. CHROs should closely align their efforts to those DE&I leaders to ensure initiatives move from awareness to actions to accountability, ensuring every employee in an organization feels as though they are a DE&I agent and has the opportunity to contribute.
What does a successful strategy look like for organizations to achieve senior leadership and other key stakeholder buy-in on these initiatives?
Having senior leadership engagement is a key factor in any organizational DE&I strategy as they help to set the tone for the entire organization. By providing visibility to the direct impact of DE&I efforts, such as increased innovation and transformative efforts, the value proposition is established for supporting these important initiatives.
Additionally, the use of data analytics can be key in providing tangible results to support leadership buy-in. Key stakeholders and leadership both have the unique opportunity to “walk the talk” and model the actions and behaviors we want to see in others to lead the way toward a truly inclusive culture.
How can organizations measure and report the impact of DE&I initiatives after implementation?
There are many ways to measure progress, and the most impactful information comes directly from employees. Integrating DE&I questions into existing internal employee engagement surveys will create benchmarks, which will allow companies to track progress year-over-year and glean insights into what is and isn’t working. Increased participation in voluntary company DE&I events and programs, like employee resource groups, is another measure of success. The real impact of focused DE&I strategies and programming becomes evident through increased employee engagement and their confidence in bringing their authentic selves, and truly believing they have the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about their thoughts and ideas.