Author

Elizabeth Bille

There have been numerous reports over the past few months about the “great resignation”—a mass exodus of employees from the workforce for various reasons. Among them: an enhanced desire for flexibility and work/life balance brought on after months of experience working remotely, aversion to returning to a workplace where they didn’t feel safe or supported by their employer, or simply reexamining goals and values and deciding to do something different with their lives.

Organizations are scrambling to address both an increase in turnover and a decrease in available talent to fill open roles. In September 2021 alone, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics–a new record high that topped the previous record of 4.3 million resignations just the month before. It’s perhaps not surprising that recruiting and retaining talent is currently the number one concern for CEOs, according to a recent survey of top execs

While focusing on the mass exodus and keeping people engaged, employers and HR leaders need to also maintain their focus on something that has become increasingly important both to organizations and employees—diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI efforts. 

Not About Just Getting “Bodies on Board”

As Steven Pearlman of the Proskauer law firm noted in a recent panel discussion with me and Carol Miaskoff, Legal Counsel of the EEOC, in their eagerness to fill vacant positions, organizations need to avoid making decisions that could negatively impact their DEI efforts. Don’t just hire for the sake of hiring. It’s important to be strategic about hiring decisions even during a talent shortage.

DEI initiatives can be jeopardized in an environment where hiring managers are simply eager to get someone in place quickly so the daily work can resume. It’s still important forhiring decisions to be made in alignment with DEI goals, procedures, and a focus on hiring the best candidate for both the short and long term. 

If your organization has adopted protocols that support DEI when sourcing and hiring talent, confirm with your hiring managers that these are still top of mind. These may include using:

  • A wide variety of recruiting channels
  • Bias-reduction techniques for job posts and resume reviews
  • Diverse interview panels
  • Consistent, structured interview processes.

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Take a deep breath, review your standard procedures, make sure everybody involved in the hiring process is aware of and on board with these efforts. Ensure a consistent and concerted focus so you don’t lose the ground you’ve gained.

And of course, continuing your DEI efforts applies beyond the hiring process as well. To ensure the long-term success and ongoing inclusion of new hires, organizations should focus on fostering DEI across the whole employee experience.

Keep Critical Conversations Going

Following the social unrest of 2020 fueled by the deaths of George Floyd and others, and the subsequent protests and concerns expressed around the country and the world, organizations began having conversations about inequity and unconscious bias. They began creating spaces for employees of various identities to share their experiences and concerns, and they lifted up these experiences to create an environment open to respectful discourse and discussion.

Those conversations need to continue. And by listening closely to what employees share, asking follow-up questions, and offering authentic support, employers not only can ensure that their employees feel heard, but also increase the likelihood that their diverse workforce will stay. 

Diversity Training for Managers

As organizations strive to retain the employees that they’ve worked so hard to hire, it is important to address DEI holistically and across the employee experience. This could include using strategies to prevent unconscious bias from impacting feedback, performance management, advancement and pay, and leading diverse teams in an inclusive way.

Managers, not surprisingly, play a pivotal part in supporting these DEI efforts on a day-to-day basis. The challenge is, many leaders today feel ill-equipped to perform this role, much less serve as a role model for others at work.  

Diversity training for managers is truly a must, to provide them with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to perform effectively. Managers particularly need training that addresses how they can support DEI through all of the things they do as a manager: hiring, onboarding, coaching, resolving conflict, providing feedback, and promoting.

The great resignation can be both the result of, and a driver of, diminishing DEI results for organizations of all kinds. But it doesn’t have to be. By continuing to be vigilant, focused on goals, and committed to ongoing conversations, inclusive and equitable processes, and diversity training for managers, organizations can increase diversity and inclusion throughout their employee and leadership ranks, and by doing so, be an employer of choice – now and in the future.

Diversity & Inclusion Training for Leaders

Diversity, equity, and inclusion training for the modern workplace can be challenging. EVERFI presents unique experiences of real people to explore key concepts such as identity, power, privilege, and communication.