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After a year marked by the “Great Reset,” 2023 is sure to bring even more challenges to managing workers, from steep attrition to falling morale amid the economic downturn. As these challenges worsen and priorities continue to shift, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) programs can act as a hedge against these trends.
Companies that make a concerted effort to create work-life balance for their employees will see tangible benefits in the coming year. DEIB’s programs are central to retaining the best talent, but it also goes beyond programming: From its role in maintaining the guardrails of work-life balance to preventing burnout, DEIB is an important effort to create a of a strong corporate culture that can apply in difficult economic times.
Here are some of the top employee management challenges facing companies today and how DEIB programs play a role in solving them:
Related: The importance of diversity and inclusion during uncertain times
DEIB as a critical tool against today’s challenges
Companies in all industries are experiencing increasing rates of employee disengagement. Even as economic patterns change, the issue persists, with some studies estimating that half of the US workforce is “quietly quitting.”
With many silent quitters driven by burnout, DEIB can play a role in reversing this pattern. Why; Psychological security is powerful — so much so that people pass up extra money and better benefits in exchange for feeling safe at work. It’s human nature for people to want to stay in a place where they feel like they belong and where their opinions and needs are valued. One study found that employees who feel a strong sense of belonging experience a 50% reduction in the risk of turnover, a 56% increase in performance and a 75% reduction in sick days. Employees are more likely to stay with companies that see diverse perspectives as a business imperative — and DEIB programming helps create and nurture that sense of belonging.
On the other side of the coin, despite economic difficulties, many companies continue to hire for priority roles and compete for top talent. Companies that historically haven’t been able to match big paychecks from Big Tech can compete by creating a culture where all people can thrive. In fact, 86% of job seekers rank a company’s DEIB approach as motivating them when considering their next role.
Related: 7 Ways Leaders Can Elevate Their DEI Workplace Strategy
Ensuring buy-in to take place
To see the above results, it is critical to create a DEIB program with good resources and data. As recession fears cause budget cuts across organizations, maintaining well-resourced DEIB programs should be a priority for leaders. Even so, securing buy-in from the top can be a challenge.
Diversity roles are in high demand – “director of diversity and inclusion” was the second fastest growing job title this year, according to LinkedIn. But the tenure of DEIB’s role, especially in the C-suite, is alarmingly short. That’s because underfunded teams can only do so much, and DEIB leaders aren’t immune to burnout. DEIB leaders need ongoing resources to sustain and grow their efforts and effectively hedge against market conditions.
Communicating the business case and describing detailed plans can help DEIB leaders convince other stakeholders to join them in championing their missions. I’ve found that having honest, open-minded conversations and asking questions to learn more about where other stakeholders are coming from has helped me make my case to leaders throughout my career.
Data is also central to DEIB — both for getting programs up and running and iterating for improvement. Hard numbers are an effective way to secure significant resources and support from leaders. The data also helps DEIB’s “lean” teams understand where they need to focus their time and resources to make a meaningful impact. It also helps teams anticipate trends and predict upcoming needs and gaps (hiring, turnover, engagement, etc.).
All challenges have solutions — and when it comes to solving “people problems,” DEIB is the answer. As economic uncertainty continues, these programs are not the right place to cut. Good corporate culture is a boon right now and DEIB plays a critical role in building and maintaining it.