HR Leaders: DEI is critical to your talent retention

DEI training is is a crucial factor in talent retention strategies for HR leaders

No organization has been untouched by substantial change in the past few years. From the Great Resignation, to issues of mental health, and increased burnout, employers are struggling with how to engage and retain their top talent.

Oftentimes, diversity and inclusion has been part of the solution to these problems. Inclusive workplace cultures outperform those that are not. With inclusion, comes higher retention rates, innovation, revenues and profits. The only downside might be the length of your decision-making time frames which makes sense as you involve different perspectives.

HR leaders have been over tasked with engaging talent in a volatile environment and often don’t have the DEI background or expertise to facilitate conversations around real inclusion. In fact, there are very few options to gain an education in DEI. It has not been a traditional career path until recently, there is no formal college education curriculum or degree in DEI (not yet). HR leaders may understand compliance, recruiting, and employee engagement but that’s not the same as DEI.

HR is a female-dominated field. It’s also over-represented with women of color. C-suites grappling with diversity and inclusion issues might make the assumption that the HR team or senior woman of color will lead DEI, oftentimes in addition to their regular daily responsibilities. This is unfair for so many reasons.

Just because someone is a woman of color does not mean that they want to or understand and are interested in DEI.

Before making the assumption that someone has the knowledge based on their lived experiences and has the interest based on their diversity identities, ask them if they’re interested and if they have capacity to take on DEI.

If someone is interested in HR taking on DEI, equip them with the tools and information as you would with any other project or new assignment.

Provide resources and tools and budget for them to be successful. Give them authority and accountability so that they can truly be successful in driving organizational change. Make sure they have a seat at the decision-making table alongside senior
leaders so that they can influence culture and make decisions together.

80% of the DEI journey is learning and education.

DEI can absolutely be learned over time. For HR leaders new to DEI, we recommend these key skills as a part of their development:

  • Start with the Why
  • Empathy
  • Vulnerability
  • Curiosity
  • Emotions
  • Courage
  • Coaching
  • Accountability
  • Privilege
  • Inspiration

Based on our research, we have seen these as foundational skills for any leader practicing inclusion to live by. Diversity and inclusion is a journey. And it’s a choose-your-own-adventure approach. For HR leaders taking on DEI responsibilities it is critical that they have support and can invest in their own development along with sharing their experiences and learning moments with the broader employee group and safe spaces where people can learn together and grow together.

There is no one and done or check the box approach to DEI.

People can see through authentic DEI programs. Merely putting HR in charge of DEI and giving them no support or additional resources on education programs will not work. Inclusive cultures are consistent, intentional, and involve all leadership embedding this important cultural change.

Empower your HR and DEI leaders to do their best work and they will show you how inclusion makes us all better.

Want to do better, and not sure where to start? That is why we developed the Lead Like an Ally virtual self-paced training program, perfect for organizations struggling with accountability for diversity. You can also check out all of our other virtual and live program offerings.