Furthering DEI initiatives through employee engagement

As our society begins to unpack the systemic reasons behind racial inequity, corporations have been making strong statements in support of racial diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. While there has been a surge in the hiring of Chief Diversity Officers over the past two years, it has not been matched by a surge in more diverse workforce representation. With a majority of millennials and 90% of Generation Z in support of Black Lives Matter, the expectation for action to match rhetoric, and the attention on corporate efforts to promote racial equity, clearly will grow.

External communications are key

Corporations will need robust external communications to meet stakeholder expectations on DEI—going beyond platitudes to show evidence of real progress. For example, Just Capital’s Corporate Racial Equity Tracker already assesses corporate disclosure by the 100 largest U.S. employers across six dimensions. Just Capital’s analysis found disclosure of baseline DEI commitments was more common than how companies will achieve the stated goals. For instance, education and training programs had high disclosure at 98%, followed by Community Investments at 91%. In contrast, only 31% of companies disclosed on pay equity and 52% had a response to mass incarceration, but 71% provided racial/ethnic diversity data.

Supporting DEI initiatives with positive messaging

Business performance can benefit from improved DEI. These benefits include increased innovation, and improved talent, reputation and responsibility. In addition, inclusion efforts can drive increased employee engagement and attendance. A 2018 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that increased diversity in leadership is associated with increased revenue from innovation. To capture this value, companies must first establish demonstrably effective DEI practices.

Successful DEI tactics include engaging managers, developing social accountability and increasing interaction across groups. All three tactics can be supported by positive messaging that encourages active problem solving and open lines of communication. The most advanced companies are linking DEI goal performance to executive compensation or providing employee recognition.

Be careful that your company leadership sets the right tone regarding diversity efforts to drive the desired outcomes. According to a study of nearly 900 companies published in Harvard Business Review, diversity training at several companies had an adverse impact due to negative messaging focused on legal settlements and discrimination. Similarly, mandatory compliance-focused methods often impeded diversity efforts.

How Addison can help

Addison can help you establish your DEI communications strategy and employee engagement roadmap. We are offering a free 30-minute consultation to get you started. With Addison’s more than six decades of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications experience, our specialists have produced hundreds of CSR-focused collateral, strategic plans and reports for Fortune 500 clients. Addison’s ESG strategy, content and creative teams are here to help you achieve all your ESG communications objectives. To schedule your free 30-minute consultation, please contact us: info@addison.com.