#MercerChats Rewind: How to Build a Diversity & Inclusion Program for 2020 and Beyond

#MercerChats Rewind: Redesigning the Work Experience in the Future of Work

Each month, Mercer brings together in-house experts and external thought leaders, subject matter experts and influencers for an online discussion of the most pressing issues in the future of work and health. The program is called #MercerChats and takes place entirely on Twitter, where individuals around the world engage with Mercer’s intellectual capital and other leading thought leadership to share insights and discuss the best solutions to help organizations thrive. Below is a summary of our December 2019 tweet chat, highlighting some of the key themes discussed and the best insights shared. 

From buzzword to business model, diversity and inclusion programs have evolved greatly over the years. But as the conversations and talking points have changed, the purpose has not, and it’s clearer than ever before that employers around the world win when they embrace and empower diversity.

What’s less clear is the best path to a more inclusive future of work. While almost every organization recognizes the value of a diverse workforce, there isn’t a consensus on how to build one. From hiring practices to leadership training to workforce analytics, there’s no shortage of approaches, and it’s incumbent upon every organization to determine which combination can deliver the balanced workforce they need.

HR leaders and experts around the world wrestle with this question every day, and Mercer’s own research shows that diversity, in all its forms, is top of mind for senior leaders. That’s why we invited a panel of thought leaders and influencers to have a discussion on the best pathway to diversity and inclusion. Below are some of the key takeaways for consideration.

It Comes from Within

While employers may have once passed off high-visibility slogans or flashy campaigns as diversity & inclusion programs, today’s organizations are setting a higher bar. HR and senior leaders in leading organizations around the world are pushing beyond rudimentary solutions and stop-gap fixes to generate meaningful change that positively impacts their workforce.

What’s the secret to this new success? Buy-in and commitment. Whether it’s regular engagement from senior leaders or a greater devotion of resources, the success of any diversity & inclusion programs is determined by those who conceive and support it. Whether top-down or bottom-up, support for diversity and inclusion must come from within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep the Welcome Lights On

Talent is in short supply in the future of work, and employers need to do everything they can to broaden their pipeline of prospective employees. This creates a whole new dynamic in the employee-employer relationship, and HR is beginning to take notice. A new emphasis on employee experience and value proposition means that employers are reexamining all angles of their organization to ensure it’s as attractive as possible to both internal and external talent, and that includes diverse and underrepresented segments of the workforce. 

 

 

 

 

 

Measure Twice, Implement Once

Even the most noble and well-intentioned D&I program will go nowhere if it’s not implemented properly. After all, what good is offering inclusive policies if they don’t apply to the specific individuals in your workforce? Whether it’s extending parental leave to men or adoptive parents or offering flexible working arrangements to primary caregivers, there’s probably a solution that’s right (or wrong) for your workforce.

This is why it’s so important for HR to be mindful of how you build your diversity and inclusion program. Start by asking employees what they want or need, but don’t stop there. Embrace workforce analytics to better understand what’s impacting your employees, and apply data analytics to find ways to retain the most vulnerable segments of your workforce. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Just like every other area of human resources, diversity and inclusion is a constantly evolving field. From new technologies to new priorities, leaders and HR professionals should expect and embrace new developments if they wish to offer a best-in-class program that keeps pace with competitors and peers. But throughout all the change, they’d do well to keep these simple truths in mind:

  • Meaningful diversity and inclusion change takes commitment and time – There’s no such thing as a simple fix when you’re looking to effect systemic changes to your organization.
  • Keep the faith – Incremental change makes a difference, both for those operating at the margins and those who are watching from afar.
  • Build momentum, stay flexible – Don’t get stuck on one trajectory; when new paths emerge, explore them as a fit for your firm. 
Danielle Guzman
by Danielle Guzman

Global Head of Social Media