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Are Your DEI Initiatives Up to Par?

Diverse group of employees in the office.

Quick look: A comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy is a must-have for today’s top talent. MetLife’s 20th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2022 takes an in-depth look at what employees want and what DEI initiatives today’s businesses are partaking in. Let’s explore the study’s key findings, which can help business leaders build an even more diverse and welcoming workplace.

While diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are a focus for many businesses, today’s talent expects their employers to do more. And that isn’t just speculation: the numbers are in, and they paint a meaningful picture.

Let’s dive into MetLife’s 20th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2022, titled The Rise of the Whole Employee: 20 Years of Change in Employer-Employee Dynamics. The study reflects data from interviews with 2,737 benefits decision-makers and influencers at companies with at least two employees and 2,982 full-time employees over the age of 21 at companies with at least two employees. Below we’ll explore key findings from the report, which can act as a guidepost as small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) review and expand their DEI initiatives.

DEI is a must-have

An increasing share of employees prioritizes their employer’s (or prospective employer’s) DEI efforts. For instance, the MetLife study found that 74% of workers say they are interested in DEI and/or affinity groups when deciding to accept a new job, versus just 48% in 2021.

Similarly, 65% of staff expect their employer to take action to promote DEI within their businesses. When you consider specific subgroups, this percentage jumps even higher:

  • Employees living with a disability: 84%
  • Hispanic employees: 81%
  • Generation Z: 80%
  • Black employees: 75%
  • Asian employees: 69%

The DEI disconnect

Despite the increasing demand that employees and candidates have for employer DEI initiatives, MetLife found a discrepancy in how well business leaders think they are performing in terms of DEI, and how well workers say the organization is doing.

Consider the following findings from the MetLife report:

  • 81% of employers agree that staff can express themselves without fear of retribution, while only 60% of employees agree
  • 79% of companies believe managers and senior leadership are representative of the overall workforce, while only 54% of workers agree
  • 77% of employers feel their organization adopts the latest DEI practices, while only 52% of employees agree
  • 75% of companies think their organization is ahead of their competition in terms of DEI initiatives, while only 48% of staff agree
  • 82% of employers think their work culture is open, inclusive, and supportive to all workers, while only 61% of employees agree

What employers can do to bridge the DEI gap

Knowledge is the first step toward growth, and to strengthen DEI initiatives, employers should consider the top three DEI expectations employees have for their companies. According to the MetLife study, these include:

A representative leadership team

Your organization’s leadership team should reflect your overall employee base. The MetLife research found that underrepresented groups are particularly interested in a diverse leadership team. For example, 32% of Black employees, 34% of staff with a disability, and 32% of LGBTQIA+ workers are significantly more likely to expect their company to create a more representative leadership team. A tool such as ExtensisHR’s DEI Dashboard can help business leaders identify their workforce’s demographics and plan accordingly.

Inclusive benefits

Benefits packages that include more than the standard medical, dental, vision, and 401(k) plans are becoming the norm instead of the exception. To attract and retain diverse, multigenerational talent, employers should offer a wide range of benefits that have been selected with DEI initiatives in mind.  These benefits could include things like:

Relevant management training

Even with the best intentions, sometimes workplace conflict occurs. According to the MetLife study, employees understand this and want their employers to be prepared. Specifically, they desire their leadership to provide conflict resolution training to managers. A learning and development platform, which can be provided by a professional employer organization (PEO), can provide relevant courses focusing on topics like overcoming unconscious bias, dealing with conflict, the importance of a diverse workplace, how to manage a multigenerational team, and more.

MetLife’s data shows that implementing additional DEI initiatives to meet employees’ demands does indeed work. For example, the research found that employers who are satisfied with their employers’ DEI efforts are 1.6 times more likely to still be with the organization in 12 months. Furthermore, workers who agree their employer is ahead of their competition in terms of DEI initiatives are 1.5 times more likely to feel productive at work and two times more likely to be satisfied with their job.

The DEI tools and knowledge you need – from one place

Between the ongoing labor shortage and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, many SMB leaders have their hands full. DEI initiatives likely remain a priority to employers, but you’re not alone if you feel stretched thin. After all, a successful DEI strategy is multifaceted and should be supported by actionable data, an inclusive benefits package, and relevant expertise.

A PEO can offer the above and more. For example, ExtensisHR not only provides access to seasoned HR experts and a robust learning and development training portal, but also a variety of Fortune 500-level employee benefits designed for today’s diverse talent base, including things like student loan repayment plans, medical insurance with telehealth options, family building support, and more. Additionally, ExtensisHR’s DEI Dashboard provides valuable, real-time DEI data on pay equity, salary trends across both gender and race demographics, employee turnover, promotions, and more.

The support you need to develop forward-thinking DEI initiatives is just one click away. Contact the experts at ExtensisHR today to get started.

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