Engaging a Changing Workforce: The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion from Day One
Millennials are projected to make up three-fourths of the global workforce by 2025, according to a 2015 EY study.
In light of global demographic changes, in which millennials are rapidly surging into the workforce as baby boomers are phasing into retirement, companies who do not actively promote diversity and inclusion put themselves in a precarious situation: those who lag behind in acting on social issues will be exposed in their ability to attract and retain talent, ultimately putting their future in danger.
But what do millennials have to do with diversity & inclusion in the workplace? On the one hand, the workforce is not only becoming younger, but also has an increasing number of workers with diverse backgrounds. Millennials are far more diverse than the generations before them, and Gen Z even more so. On the other hand, both millennials and people of color place higher value on a company’s ideals reflecting their own. According to the 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, millennials and Gen Zs are shown to be increasingly loyal to companies that take a bold stance on diversity and inclusion. Not only do they buy more from socially responsible companies, but they are more engaged when working there as well. So how can companies leverage these changes to engage a new generation of talent?
“90 percent of employees decide within the first six months if they intend to stay or begin looking for another job.”
The onboarding process is the first opportunity a company has to introduce itself, its structures and lay out expectations and goals. At the same time, employees expect to build rapport, network with others, learn their role in the company and receive tools for their success. When onboarding does not meet these objectives, the result can often create turnover.According to Smartsheet, 90 percent of employees decide within the first six months if they intend to stay or begin looking for another job. Many new hires act upon these thoughts. Up to 20percent of employees leave within the first 45 days and 33 percent look for anew job in the first 6 months.
The rate of employee turnover during the onboarding process increases amongst diverse employees. In a 2015 Korn Ferry survey, 84 percent of executives agreed that a lack of attention on diversity and inclusion contributes to employee turnover. In the tech industry, for example, women surveyed were twice as likely to leave as men, and Black and Latinx workers were3.5 times more likely to leave than their White or Asian colleagues. The investment made to recruit, hire and onboard these workers, as well as the benefits that their diverse backgrounds bring, is lost.
“Onboarding is not an introduction. The goal is to help them feel included, part of the business and that they belong.” Harvey Nash
Flexibility, individuality and communication are key when onboarding diverse hires, and companies should not be afraid to bring up their diversity and inclusion support strategies throughout the onboarding process.Below is a short list of steps that companies can take to incorporate D&I into the onboarding process, and employee groups for whom they can be particularly effective. This is just the beginning!
1. LGBTQ employees will feel more comfortable being themselves in the workplace if the company’s initiatives surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity are outlined and discussed explicitly from day one.
2. For women, many of whom tend to overprepare and underestimate their abilities, pairing them with a workplace leader as a mentor can help close potential confidence gaps.
3. New hires with disabilities can often feel left in the dark regarding their individual needs. Facilitating an onboarding discussion between the employee and managers about accommodations and flexible work, as well as the implementation of a buddy system, can create an individual solution, allowing employees to work to their best ability.
4. Parents, especially single parents and those returning from parental leave, often struggle with work-life balance. For them, repeating aspects of the onboarding process could be beneficial. Making parents aware of workplace flexibility options can reduce their stress and ultimately improve their productivity, confidence and wellbeing.
5. For people of color, who can find themselves in the minority in the workplace, having an open discussion during onboarding and showing that your company is making an effort to combat unconscious bias and take microaggressions seriously will help them feel they can have a positive future in the organization.
6. Incorporating mentoring for international employees into the onboarding process allows them to discuss new social norms, learn about company culture and ask questions in a relaxed, one-on-one setting.