In 2020, there was great promise of a reckoning on workplace diversity. Following a period of social unrest, companies around the globe pledged to diversify their teams and build a culture of equity and inclusion. However, almost three years into the workplace DE&I movement, progress has stalled in many regards.
In a global study by Randstad Sourceright, 86% of human capital leaders said DE&I is embedded within their talent strategy, however only 43% said their hiring practices supported their diversity goals in 2021.1 Kantar found eight out of 12 major markets saw a decline in their inclusion score between 2019 and 2022, with Canada experiencing one of the biggest drops (-9%). While 71% of employees believe their organization is taking steps to be more diverse and inclusive, nearly half (46%) said their employer needs to do more.2
There are a variety of reasons why DE&I may have been put on the backburner, including competing priorities in the C-suite, “The Great Resignation” and a difficult hiring climate, and employees feeling overwhelmed learning about DE&I.3,4
While creating meaningful change is never easy, there are compelling reasons to keep the momentum going on DE&I. Numerous studies have found diverse and inclusive workplaces perform better financially, have increased capacity for innovation, and have an edge when it comes to talent acquisition and retention.
See: Can an organization be successful without addressing diversity?
As we head into a new year, it’s the perfect time for organizations to reset their DE&I efforts and start reaping the rewards. Here are three ways to get – and keep – the momentum going.
1. Refine your definition of diversity
When rebooting your efforts, start thinking more broadly about diversity. While much of the focus is on age and gender, diversity can also include factors such as age, education, sexual orientation, mental and physical abilities, life experiences, religious beliefs, and political views.
Experts suggest reframing your definition of a “diverse hire” to account for underrepresented groups you may not see. For example, a study of 100 organizations by the co-authors of the book, “Hiring for Diversity,” fewer than half (47%) accounted for people with disabilities in their tracking and goal setting, and only 11% accounted for the LGBTQ+ community.5
Making sure all these diverse voices are heard will also give your DE&I efforts a shot in the arm. As Jina Etienne, a consultant and speaker on diversity, inclusion, culture and belonging, writes: “None of us like to be ignored. Letting everyone know that they are seen could be just the boost an organization needs to recharge their D&I efforts. It might not only put them back on track, but it could help them pick up some momentum by gaining buy-in and increased support across the organization.”6
2. Create a clear plan for accountability
As well-intentioned as a DE&I strategy may be, it likely won’t go far without accountability. While every employee should contribute to your DE&I goals, your strategy needs to have defined ownership and key deliverables – just as you would with any other business goal.
Sheree Atcheson, global diversity and inclusion leader and author writes: “We see accountability embedded into organizations for finance, engineering, product delivery and more, but yet when we look at [DEI&I] work, it so often has little to no accountability.” She adds that accountability is key for many reasons: It enables decision-making, it embeds sustainability, and it prevents progress from stagnating.7
According to research, the number of organizations tracking accountability for DE&I efforts is relatively low. The 2022 Global Leadership Monitor study found just 17% of global leaders said executives at their organizations are compensated on DE&I outcomes.8 Research from Gartner found that to drive real change, organizations must adopt “consequential accountability” for leaders. For example, Gartner suggests monitoring and tracking leaders’ progress against DE&I goals, and integrating DE&I measures into the performance evaluation process.9
3. Communicate and celebrate the wins
Communicating your company’s progress and celebrating the wins are a great way to build momentum among employees. They’ll be able to understand what’s happening with your DE&I plan, see real changes that are happening within the organization, and be encouraged to support initiatives where they can.10
Inclusive leadership expert Simone E. Morris advises leaders to go on a “scavenger hunt” to find wins on the DE&I journey. “Perhaps it’s reflecting on the employee engagement survey and how answers have changed over time, or maybe it’s noticing our leaders’ progress,” she writes. “Progress of note may include inviting multiple perspectives into conversations, building more connections, and demonstrating empathy. The wins are there for the acknowledgment. Our job is to find them and celebrate them along the way.”11
To learn about how Sovereign Insurance champions diversity and inclusion, and to find more resources on DE&I, visit: https://www.sovereigninsurance.ca/diversityinclusionjourney
1 Randstad Sourceright, “The inclusion imperative: taking meaningful action on DEI,” Oct. 19, 2022
2 Kantar, “Inclusion Index 2022”
3 Harvard Business Review, “The Great Resignation Doesn’t Have to Threaten Your DE&I Efforts,” Sept. 1, 2021
4 HR Brew, “DE&I seems to be slowly falling off the C-suite to-do list,” July 26, 2022
5 Inclusive Leaders Group, “Maintaining DE&I Momentum During the Great Resignation”
6 Canopy, “A Holistic Approach to Diversity,” July 25, 2022
7 Forbes, “Inclusion Without Clear Lines of Accountability is Pointless. Here’s Why,” March 22, 2021
8 Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, “Making it Count: Accountability is Needed to Fast-Track DE&I,” Sept. 27, 2022
9 Gartner, “Leadership diversity stalled? Here are 3 actions to take,” July 7, 2021
10 Together, “Examples of diversity and inclusion performance goals: How to set and achieve them,” Feb. 17, 2022
11 Forbes, “How to Continue Pushing Forward When Unhappy with our DEI Progress?” July 31, 2022