Advancing Inclusivity and Diversity

Just how important are D&I (diversity and inclusiveness) initiatives today? Gen Z, those born between the mid-1990s and 2010 number about 2.4 billion worldwide and will comprise about 25% of the workforce within four years, according to consumer study firm, McCrindle. Not only have they been ardent advocates of D&I, but earlier surveys indicated that many will not work for employers unless they support the same values.

A September 2019 survey by McKinsey and Company reported 38% of respondents saying they would take a company’s inclusiveness into account in making career decisions. Events of 2020 have only served to heighten awareness of company D&I values and initiatives as well as Gen Z attitudes. 

A more recent survey in 2020 by Monster revealed that a company’s commitment to D&I is important to 83% of Gen Z job candidates in choosing a potential employer. These figures also mirror Gen Z attitudes about patronizing brands whose values they share. For companies marketing to Gen Z as well as millennials, change is necessary.

Companies seeking to attract bright young talent will need to step up their efforts if they hope to hire Gen Zers. The first and most important action item is the company adopting a policy statement on diversity and inclusion. A review of job descriptions should also be conducted so that things like gender-specific actions or other language that could reflect negatively are removed.

From there, it’s a matter of not only incorporating that statement in all future job postings but going beyond the usual employment venues and advertising job announcements in women’s diversity, LGBTQ media, and other diversity and inclusion platforms. It would also be ideal if the HR people conducting interviews also reflected the diversity of the company.

Keeping current employees informed of these and future actions, as well as educating them on how they can contribute to D&I are also important. A diversity course and/or communications on how D&I will benefit the company and everyone else would also be helpful. Discussing this at all-staff and/or team meetings with an open Q&A session is valuable, especially if it’s facilitated by a specialist and not someone from HR.

What helps to make D&I successful is ensuring that everyone feels they belong irrespective of race, gender, orientation or culture. Novel ways to do this include giving employees a day off to celebrate cultural observances like the Chinese New Years, Gay Pride Month, etc. with family and/or loved ones. Another is enrolling and training some Gen Z employees to help and mentor underrepresented groups to prepare and progress into company leadership positions.

While most D&I talk centers around gender, race and sexual preferences, diverse generational differences should also be taken into consideration. It’s equally important to remember the boomers, Gen X and millennials besides Gen Z. Each has its own nuances and value sets. Acknowledging and respecting those differences while openly communicating to them is important to keeping everyone informed and aware of the corporate vision and plans for D&I.

Clear and frequent communication is the final step. Not only is it important that current employees be made aware and kept informed about the company’s position on D&I, but regular updates about how it made a difference or changed something in a positive way will also help.  That same information should be communicated to the company’s business partners, vendors and suppliers as well as to its shareholders if it’s publicly-traded.

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