Nearly every company today would state that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a business priority, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an April Gartner survey, 69% of heads of DEI said that they are prioritizing the advancement of underrepresented talent. However, another recent Gartner survey of 113 HR leaders reveals that 88% feel their organization has not been effective at increasing diverse representation.
Gartner TalentNeuron™ data confirms the lack of diversity among the leadership of U.S. companies. Its data shows that among senior-level corporate positions, only 10% are held by a woman from a racial or ethnic minority and only 18% by a man from a minority segment.
There is no two-hour training remedy for this challenge. Organizations need to assess their current systems and processes to mitigate bias.
Gartner has identified these organizational barriers to the advancement of underrepresented talent:
There is no two-hour training remedy for this challenge. Organizations need to assess their current systems and processes to mitigate bias and address organizational factors that prohibit equal opportunity for advancement.
HR and DEI must address the systemic bias embedded in their systems, processes, and stakeholders to truly increase the diversity of their managerial and leadership benches. Gartner has identified three actions HR can take to reset how underrepresented talent is advanced.
1. Fix the manager-employee relationship
Historically, organizations have focused on “fixing” underrepresented talent through formal leadership development programs. To make progress on increasing diversity representation, organizations need to build healthy manager-employee relationships that set the right foundation for advocacy and advancement.
Managers are unable to effectively execute critical advocacy and advancement-related activities if they do not have a solid working relationship with their employees. This can be even more challenging when managers and employees come from different experiences.
To fix the manager-employee relationship:
The most successful organizations go beyond traditional leadership development programs that focus solely on skill-building to advance women, LGBT+, or racially and ethnically diverse employees. Instead, they also target managers of program participants to spread awareness of the employee experience of their direct reports, build trust and enable greater manager advocacy.
2. Enable growth-focused networks
Employers have typically viewed networks as support mechanisms for employees and have taken an ad hoc approach. The result is often networks that lack diversity in role, skill, level, and experience — with limited involvement of senior leaders.
Growth-focused networks are intentional and self-sustaining, providing an array of diverse individuals in role, skills, level and experience. They also offer exposure to senior leaders who are positioned to support growth and advancement.
When underrepresented talent has diverse networks, the organization wins. Gartner research reveals that in organizations that create networking programs for underrepresented talent, HR leaders are two times more likely to report they are effective at improving organizational inclusion and 1.3 times more likely to report they are effective at increasing diverse employee engagement.
Key actions HR can take to enable growth-focused networks include:
3. Redesign talent processes to mitigate bias
Organizations often rely on techniques like raising manager awareness of DEI goals and providing training on unconscious bias and inclusivity to mitigate bias. They less often redesign processes to create opportunities for underrepresented talent. Redesigning processes is often the least-used technique in bias mitigation because DEI doesn’t own talent processes, and it requires a significant change effort. However, it can be one of the most effective.
To fully embed inclusion and provide fair consideration to underrepresented talent for advancement:
“COVID-19 and the transition to remote work have created an opportunity for organizations to address their current DEI goals and the strategies and tactics in place to meet them,” says Ingrid Laman, vice president for Advisory at Gartner.
The original article by Lauren Romansky, managing vice president at Gartner, is here.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/max-kegfire