Are You Honoring Your Commitment to Diversity

Did you make a commitment to advance your workforce diversity, equality, and inclusion program in 2020? How will you honor this commitment in 2021? Employees are watching, and employers are under the microscope. This is particularly true of the youngest of generations entering the workplace. Generation Z (or Gen Z or Zoomers, of which there are approximately 90 million), are among the most progressive generations to embrace multiculturism in a way that we have never seen before. They will be looking to see if their current or potential employer is committed to real change and follow-through. Upholding your commitment to diversity will help recruit and maintain a diverse workforce, and trust is an important component of this.

Do employees feel that you do what you say you will do when confronted with diversity issues in the workplace? In addition to having policies, you have to gain credibility and trust from your existing and potential employees by acting in alignment with your policies and addressing issues promptly when they arise. Employers must create a culture of “psychological safety.” Psychological safety is a term coined and defined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson. It is the belief that you will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas or concerns, taking risks, or making mistakes. Having a company culture that includes psychological safety creates an environment where employees feel that they can raise questions or concerns about the company’s policies, actions, and responses to workplace diversity issues.

In 2020, there was a rush (and perhaps pressure), on employers, partly because of the awareness created by Black Lives Matter and other movements, to make diversity, equality, and inclusion policies and statements. Now, in 2021, it may be your time to take a second look at the policy you created and at specific areas in your organization where employees fear speaking up or do not trust that their voice will be heard. In addition to the employer’s commitment to having a diverse workforce and employee training and awareness, building trust by not just “talking the talk” but “walking the walk” is a component that should not be overlooked this year.

Michele Faulkner, Sr. Loss Prevention Consultant, PRM