Data proves that DEI initiatives drive the bottom line and historically, companies with robust DEI strategies have fared better during times of economic decline.
Yet it has been impossible to avoid news of companies dropping their DEI initiatives as a reaction to the Tech market layoffs amidst economic downturn.
So how can we keep DEI at the forefront of our business strategies?
We met with industry trail blazers Starlet B. Farrar, Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Zeta, Nisha Modi, Software Engineering Manager and leader of the DEI group at DaySmart, and Carl Hixson, Chief Technology Officer at SMRG media.
The Tech market today
According to techtarget.com the Tech industry increased its layoffs by 649% in 2022. We looked at the headlines of multiple articles that report the negative impact these layoffs have made to DEI efforts specifically.
But are things as bad as they seem?
We witnessed mass hiring during the pandemic as the demand for tech skyrocketed and companies adapted to survive. Today, post pandemic, one view is the layoffs are a result of the market resizing.
However, while companies have reinvented themselves during and since the pandemic, we’ve seen a requirement of new skillsets. For this reason, as well as new remote / hybrid ways of working, we have in contrast seen a new hiring wave to support new strategies.
From Trilogy’s perspective, we have plenty of clients who are hiring in full force.
If you are looking, we advise you to talk to a recruitment agency, as a lot of opportunities won’t be advertised online.
The benefits of a robust DEI strategy
DE&I isn’t just the right thing, it’s the best thing.
The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace include higher revenue growth, diversity of thought leading to readiness and ability to innovate, access to a bigger talent pool and higher employee retention as a result of increased employee trust and commitment.
Practical steps to drive your DEI strategy forward
Start with an internal audit
Before embarking on a DEI strategy or improving the one you have, it is important to figure out where you currently are when it comes to DEI.
Ensure what you are communicating externally is in alignment with what your employees experience internally.
Don’t forget to check you have the budget, the time, and the team behind whatever it is you’re trying to commit to before saying that you’re committing to it.
Create a strong employer brand
With so much going on in the world and massive improvements to be made when it comes to issues that affect the lives of many marginalized communities, it is important to show you care as a company.
Such a stance is important in broadening your reach of customers and top talent candidates from all types of backgrounds, which will aid your long term success.
Focus on employee retention
Committing to create safe spaces and allowing employees to feel heard and included is the biggest investment that DEI really offers. This leads to higher retention and therefore savings on the bottom line.
Company policies matter
It’s important to ask the people within your organisation what they need to thrive and succeed in your organisation. From there the correct initiatives and policies can be implemented.
For example, a compensation policy will ensure equitable and inclusive salaries, regardless of employee demographics.
Other suggested benefits and perks include parental leave for both parents, or support to those struggling to start families of their own.
Celebrate cultural events and holidays
Who we are and where we come from is important. Creating a culture where those things are celebrated brings people closer and makes work more fulfilling and enjoyable for everyone. It ensures employees across the company feel valued and have the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas.
Plan the year ahead
Organise a time or identify individuals willing to take responsibility for different DEI related initiatives such as organising internal events. Having a dedicated team to push these initiatives is imperative.
Ensure your DEI team is diverse itself
Not only will this help ensure any terminology used is current, by having a diverse team with a variety of perspectives, you’ll avoid any initiatives being carried out that cause more harm than good.
Support groups are key
Creating safe spaces in the form of support groups or community are key for diverse employees. This system serves to acknowledge the variety of backgrounds and experiences individuals may come from and create an environment where they feel safe and supported. External networking and conference events can further support diverse groups.
Diversity from within the hiring process
A diverse interview committee allows a diverse range of candidates to feel comfortable and makes your hiring process more equitable. It shows the prospective candidate that you have a diverse workforce and diversity is important to you.
When to consult external help
Leveraging recruitment agencies’ research, database and methodology to screen talent can save you time and money in the long run. The cliché ‘Time is money’ is real!
Such services can run along side internal HR teams, complementing this process to find the best, brightest diverse talent and help determine who is best qualified as quickly as possible.
Onboarding is crucial
First impressions count when bringing new hires into the company. It’s important they are clear on what the company culture is and helping them to feel a part of it from the start.
A commitment to DEI should always be demonstrated from the top down
Asking executive sponsors to lend their time and presence will ensure that your company’s commitment to DEI is demonstrated from the top down, which in turn increases employee engagement.
In times where specific initiatives are short of budget, maintaining a top level in-person presence while supporting other initiatives goes a long way.
Furthermore, top level management can see first-hand the benefits of the cross-team collaboration that comes out of DEI initiatives.
When resistance is felt from the top level
Education and data are key to convey the importance of DEI. In communicating how a lack of DEI can affect individuals personally, leaders can come to understand how the environment they create can impact individuals’ feeling safety and being heard.
Identify the champions of DEI within the leadership team and build from there. From the positive changes your DEI strategy brings, you can gradually bring other leaders on board.
Are you looking to diversify your teams or looking for work within the technology space in the US?
Contact Drake McCleary or Helen Tankard today!
Links quoted in the webinar:
Tech sector layoffs explained: What you need to know (TechTarget.com)
A recession will test the firms which used diversity plans merely as a way to look good (CityAM.com)
The Lasting Benefits of DEI in the Workplace (GlobisInsights.com)
Why Is Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Important? (GreatPlacetoWork.com)
Opinion: Tech is hurting. Women in tech are hurting the most (SiliconValley.com)