We wondered: a year after the Summer of 2020, do people feel that Diversity Equity and Inclusion is still an organizational priority at their company? What actions and progress do employees say their employers are making toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace? To find out, 24 Seven surveyed 500 professionals in the Marketing, Digital Marketing, Creative, and Tech sectors.
Our hypothesis was that we would see a majority of employees report companies going all in to make an impact in the workplace. But employees participating in this study indicate that in many situations, fewer than 50% feel their companies have implemented meaningful changes.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion action is critical to employer branding & talent strategy
These surprising findings might signal a missed opportunity for companies looking to attract, engage and retain top talent. Eight in ten employees say it’s important that their employer have a proven track record as a DEI champion. Four in ten respondents plan to jump ship to another company with a better DEI reputation in the next year (almost six in ten non-white respondents are planning to job switch for this reason). And the most engaged employees feel they work for companies that take specific actions to improve DEI at work and take a stand when it comes to the social causes of the day.
DEI changes are not resonating
While two-thirds of employees say that DEI is a company priority as evidenced by well-documented and reinforced policies, procedures, and track record, yet just over half say their company’s DEI reputation is strong or that their company has publicly renewed its DEI commitment. There’s even less confidence in DEI efforts being actions and not just words. Just four in ten employees say they believe company leaders to be personally committed champions of DEI. And only one third of employees said that, within their company, there is a dedicated organizational role whose specific function is to lead DEI initiatives and implement change to policies, procedures and culture.
In the dark about DEI
Four in ten of all employees surveyed believe there’s transparency around their company’s DEI performance and progress (only 3 in 10 non-white employees feel this way). Our study got a lot of “I don’t know” responses to questions about company DEI actions which is not surprising given that only a quarter of those survey said that their companies have publicly shared the plan for making the workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. There was higher than we expected unawareness among respondents around the company’s public commitment to DEI and supporting actions like specific point people within the organization or training and development initiatives. DEI & social justice causes matter to employeesAlmost all respondents find it important that their employer have a proven track record for prioritizing DEI. Similarly, the plurality of employees feel it’s appropriate for a company to take a public stand for DEI in the workplace, and expect their company to be part of cultural and social justice debates. Yet less than half said their company has become more vocal about social justice issues and reform. There is good news for employers making meaningful efforts and strides when it comes to these matters, as four in ten employees looking to switch jobs are planning to join a company with a stronger DEI reputation than their current one (this is true for almost six in ten non-white employees).
Most employees feel safe to be their whole selves at work
The plurality of all employees said they feel safe to bring their whole selves to work, in every dimension – gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, religion, physical and mental ability, etc. However, non-white employees felt less safe to do so. One-third of non-white employees also feel underrepresented in the workplace. Our survey found employees of all races reporting that just 12% believe their company’s leadership is greater than 50% racially & ethnically diverse, and 20% believe their company’s workforce is greater than 50% racially & ethnically diverse.
DEI training and hiring to support is slow to be implemented
Only a third of survey participants said their company offers training to all employees in DEI awareness and skills development, and half of hiring managers reported that their company has taken action to ensure DEI best practices in hiring. Some of those steps include auditing hiring and recruiting practices for improvement, joining networks that reach a more diverse talent pool, and utilizing a blind recruiting process
A missed employee engagement opportunity for slow-DEI change adopters
The most engaged employees in our survey are more loyal than their peers and are more likely to emphatically believe that they work for employers who actively support DEI efforts and also take a public stand when it comes to social causes and racial injustice. At first glance, we were surprised and a little deflated by these findings. But after reviewing it with professionals who have made a career of leading DEI initiatives for corporations, we were reminded that meaningful and profound changes that time, commitment, and continued focus. Stay tuned as we bring this conversation to life in an upcoming webinar – watch this space!
In the meantime, download the study findings here.