Enforcing Equal Employment Standards: The Bedrock For DEI Programs

Despite organizations' increased interest in diversity and inclusion since 2020, check-the-box DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) approaches still do not work for employees who are black, or indigenous, or for people of color (BIPOC).

In a 2022 report by a nonprofit organization, Hue, 82 percent of HR professionals said their industry is good at implementing diversity-related initiatives. However, 84 percent of employees noted "a lack of meaningful progress" in equity for BIPOC employees over the past six months.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of BIPOC employees said they experienced workplace discrimination related to their race or ethnicity. Also, about 33 percent of BIPOC told Hue they don't feel empowered to speak out against workplace discrimination they've experienced or witnessed based on their race or ethnicity. In addition, nearly 30 percent of BIPOC employees reported they experienced job loss due to race-related discrimination.

Before Hue came out with their report, "A State of Inequity: Unsafe. Unheard. Unvalued," HR researchers found that corporate antiracism conversations in the summer of 2020, following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have rung hollow two years later.

In February 2021, Perceptyx came out with a report on DEI issues and impact and found that 76 percent of companies surveyed had no diversity or inclusion goals. The study also found that around 32 percent of respondents required any form of diversity training. Also, around 75 percent of organizations addressed diversity as more of a compliance issue, excluding DEI from their learning and development strategy.

According to the report, "Roughly 80 percent of companies are just going through the motions and not holding themselves accountable." Caroline Colvin "Amid DEI zeal, BIPOC employees say work life is harder": https://www.hrdive.com (Mar. 02, 2022).

 

Commentary

The base of any DEI program is cultivating equality. Equality begins with enforcing equal employment standards.

Whether your organization has an active commitment to DEI programs and training or not, as a manager, you must be available to your employees so they feel comfortable reporting any harassment or discrimination based on a protected class. Such discrimination or harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Make sure you inform those in your organization who are authorized to investigate complaints of discrimination or harassment of any reports made to you or any discrimination or harassment you experience or observe.

If your organization does have an active DEI program, be sure to fully participate in it and to talk about it with your employees. If your BIPOC employees know the commitment is there, they may be more empowered to discuss the ways in which they feel commitment is falling short in your organization, and then you can share this information with upper management.

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