While the continued disruption of the coronavirus pandemic is doubtlessly top of mind for all HR leaders, a new survey finds that strategizing for diversity, equity and inclusion is actually an even more pressing concern.
The finding comes from an annual spring survey of the HR Policy Association, which represents CHROs of nearly 400 of the largest global employers, one-third of which participated in the study. When asked their top concerns, 82% cited DEI, followed by a cultural transformation in anticipation of the post-COVID work environment (71%). Other top issues on their radar include executive development, talent management, digitization of the workplace and employee engagement.
Drilling down into DEI strategies, HR Policy Association asked respondents if and how their approach has changed since the death of George Floyd last spring. The vast majority (85%) have expanded inclusion activities and increased C-suite involvement. Seventy percent either started or enhanced unconscious bias training, while 57% understood analysis of disaggregated workforce demographic data. Just about half sought to hire from educational institutions with strong minority talent.
What it means to HR leaders
While the pandemic has prompted HR and business leaders to mobilize against a “whirlwind of outside forces” in the last year, says Association President and CEO Timothy J. Bartl, the death of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans ushered in “a year of great introspection.”
Importantly, the DEI approaches pursued by HR Policy Association members are not one-time changes, but rather sustainable processes to elevate people of color into leadership positions, he says.
In addition to the most-commonly deployed approaches, members also pursued other strategies including listening sessions, anonymized resumes, community partnerships, new D&I-focused positions, a focus on racial equity in wider DEI programs and a redesign of incentive metrics on diversity.
“These injustices sparked important and difficult listening sessions, conversations, thought leadership and change,” Bartl says. “CHROs led the reimagining of their company cultures and advocated for an even more inclusive and diverse workforce from the top down.”