Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. Meaningful mandate or empty words?

In a series of polls on ForceBrands’ LinkedIn page, we set out to learn how employers are responding to the social justice events of the past few years and what actions they’re taking to build more inclusive workforces.

DEI cannot be an afterthought for today’s organizations — it must be a priority. With this in mind, we’d like to know: Are companies purposely refreshing their cultures and changing policies and procedures to support a DEI-centered workplace, or are actions limited to superficial social media statements?

DEI isn’t just a nice-to-have

Our research explored how important an employer’s inclusivity efforts are to employees. Today’s leadership can no longer afford to commit to DEI initiatives without following through with meaningful workplace action. As recruiters, we can attest that job seekers are increasingly asking about a potential employer’s DEI track record, and in a candidate-driven job market, employers must take notice.

Some have missed the memo

A large number of respondents (42 percent) said that their employer has missed the memo when it comes to DEI initiatives. In other words, these companies have not amplified their efforts to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, regardless of their plans to do so. It’s not all bad news though. The majority of poll respondents report that, in the last year, their company is making strides toward creating a more DEI-supportive workplace. This trend will very likely gain momentum as studies everywhere point to DEI’s importance to most employees — particularly younger workers who see it as workplace table stakes.

Leaders must step up

It goes without saying that leaders set the tone of any organization. Leaders signal which aspects of company culture are true beyond carefully-crafted PR. Unfortunately, our survey found that just one-third of employees said that leadership’s words about their commitment to DEI matched the company’s initiatives to measurable progress. Authenticity and transparency are among the most highly valued attributes of modern company culture, and perhaps even more so as it relates to a genuine and demonstrable commitment to DEI.

Socially-aware, active employer = Talent magnet

The majority of employees (73 percent) are more inspired than ever to work for companies that make social impact a priority. If that statistic is not a resounding endorsement for companies that are publicly, actively, and meaningfully supportive of social and civil rights causes, we don’t know what is. This underscores the reality that job candidates are increasingly seeking employment where the company’s values match their own. DEI (and its link to social and civil rights) is at the center of this. In an increasingly competitive talent market, companies that will be successful at attracting and retaining employees will be the ones that match words to action when it comes to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion everywhere.

Read the full report here.