For businesses, workplace diversity remains an important objective. Employees believe their companies are committed to hiring a range of workers, although few employees actually value specific diversity initiatives
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 57% of employees say their company has become more diverse in the past year. Experts say this can be attributed to a more diverse American workforce overall and an increase in companies employing international workers.
Experts warn, however, that employees sometimes mistake their company having some diversity with having strong diversity. It is easy for people to overestimate their workplace’s diversity because people may think one employee of a different background represents the entire company, said Faizan Fahim, content marketing lead for ServerGuy, an IT company.
Employees believe their workplace is diverse, but they’re not the most objective or accurate judges.
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Diversity Initiatives Can Still Be Prioritized During Remote Work
Almost three-quarters of employees (74%) believe their company is committed to improving diversity.
Fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) aren’t sure if their company is committed to diversity in 2020, and only 8% believe their company isn’t committed to creating a more diverse workplace this year.
Diversity plans can continue during the pandemic, despite challenges created by the COVID-19 business environment.
Jessica Lambrecht, founder of The Rise Journey, a recruiting consultancy, emphasizes that growth and hiring can decrease while overall diversity goals remain the same.
“Our growth goals have been slowed due to the pandemic, so our hiring has slowed,” Lambrecht said. “But our [recruiting] plans remain the same: Continue to create an inclusive environment and find diverse candidates for the projects we have currently planned.”
New flexible work schedules allow for increased geographic and gender diversity. New mothers might work reduced or altered hours, and Lambrecht believes that the pandemic may provide businesses opportunities to improve remote work policies to hire and retain more diverse teams.
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Female Leadership and LGBTQ Inclusion Aren’t Top Priorities for Employees
When pressed about specific goals for their workplace, employees don’t prioritize improving their company’s diversity.
Just 1 in 5 (20%) workers value hiring more women into leadership positions, and 17% value increased recruiting of underrepresented groups. Only 14% of employees value heightening LGBTQ awareness and sensitivity at their company.
The most popular diversity initiative is trainings, with 24% saying they would like employee diversity training and discussions at their workplace. Major firms such as Accenture, for example, advertise their inclusion and diversity programs, aiming to educate employees across their business about how to approach a diverse workplace.
From Accenture’s model, diversity inclusion programs in the workplace educate employees about diversity’s benefits, assist management with remote teams, and bolster the skills of traditionally underrepresented groups.
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