Are employees tired of hearing about diversity, equity and inclusion? Has DE&I been so pushed to the front of their minds that they’ve hit the proverbial wall? Are they ‘plateauing’ in their DE&I involvement in the workplace or in their own personal development? These are the types of questions we’ve been exploring with our clients over the past six months, as they grapple with how to continue moving their DEI strategy forward, but not at the expense of losing the interest and involvement of their workforce. Because, as we all know, any organization can have a set of DEI goals and well-placed values they paint on the walls or put on their website, but those are just decoration if the people who are their business don’t believe in them or strive to make it a reality.
Involvement in DE&I activities or behaviors can be like working out or developing a new skill – you have to do a little bit each day to reach your aims or goals. If you’ve spent any time with an exercise plan you recognize that you start off inspired to reach your goals because you want to see the change. You put focused energy into getting started and making it count. You start to see results and you push a little harder. But then you hit a plateau. The change doesn’t come as fast, and you feel like the effort isn’t worth it anymore. So, you miss a day of exercise here and there and then suddenly, before you know it, you’re back to old habits and you’ve given up. An exercise pattern that I’m very familiar with.
If DEI interest is really declining that could be a worry -and this can be exacerbated by many recent news articles that talk about this exact thing happening. Around 70% of the work Steps creates globally falls under the umbrella of DEI programing, and so how do we continue to innovate to and inspire people to change? Seek inspiration is one way.
Last month, we had the chance to attend the most recent Workhuman conference, in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to the conference, many of the above thoughts and questions around DEI were weighing on my mind – but I walked away very inspired by the fantastic presenters who spoke on the future of DEI within organizations. Whereas I was starting to form a picture in my mind of DEI efforts shirking away, it turns out the opposite is true. Global heads of DEI talked about the ever-growing efforts within their respective organizations. They talked about how they are investing more into ERG groups, doubling down on achieving equity in all aspects of diversity, and making sure their customers and public see their commitments and progress, not just because it looks good, but because it’s the right thing to do.
One simple thing I took away, of the many things I came across, was creating a more inclusive culture through gratitude. The Workhuman community released a study that found that employees want to go above and beyond when they receive gratitude for their work. This applies from manager to team member as well as peer-to-peer. It also supports feeling included and a sense of belonging. This free and simple act can have a profound impact on those around you. When was the last time you showed gratitude to your team members?
The three days at Workhuman gave me the insight to say – there is great work being done, the ‘trend’ is not going away anytime soon, and there are inspiring suggestions for ways to continue to grow and expand DE&I efforts. It’s like I had a personal trainer focus my exercise routine so I can see that it’s not a plateau that I’m in, it’s a launching pad for more exciting developments in future of DEI. And I’m super excited to share more with my clients to inspire their population to do more – for that I’m am grateful!