A hybrid strategy is “sucking the oxygen out of diversity and inclusion initiatives,” says a report by Inpulse. The findings of the study also show that 1 in 4 Black employees can’t be themselves at work.
The data from Inpulse’s employee emotion surveys, which were conducted in 2021. As part of the surveys, 7,707 respondents answered whether employees feel they can be themselves at work. 4,687 respondents answered whether employees feel that the culture in their organisation in inclusive. For the last question, whether employees feel that their organisation encourages diversity and inclusion, there were 2,604 respondents.
No “Real Change” When It Comes To Diversity And Inclusion
Engagement experts, Inpulse, say that while diversity and inclusion efforts increased last year, the ability to enact real change has been stifled by the move to remote and hybrid working. This has resulted in employees feeling less engaged with initiatives and having less faith in them.
Those who felt that they couldn’t be themselves at work are 43% less engaged than other employees. As well as this, over two-thirds of these employees (64%) do not feel that their organisation has an inclusive culture regardless of personal differences. Nearly a third of all employees (31%) do not feel that their organisation encourages diversity and inclusion.
HR Need To Put More Drive Behind Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
“There are currently two main issues holding back the diversity and inclusion agenda,” explains Matt Stephens, founder and CEO of Inpulse. “Firstly, the return to work has taken over as the big problem for HR and is ultimately sucking the oxygen out of diversity and inclusion initiatives—so much so that there’s little room to focus on this incredibly pressing matter.
“Worryingly too, depending on whether COVID-19 restrictions are put back in place over winter, more of HR’s time could be spent implementing the constant change of remote or hybrid working. This potentially will lead to an unintentional but detrimental lack of drive behind diversity and inclusion action for some time.
“We’re also seeing that even when HR can focus their efforts on diversity and inclusion, there’s a lack of confidence in knowing the right actions to take. This tends to go two ways—either inaction or playing it safe and turning diversity and inclusion into a tick-box exercise – ultimately only completing performative activities that create no real or useful change at the structural level of an organisation.”
Individuals Are Not To Blame For Widespread Diversity and Inclusion Issues
Inpulse findings show the importance of diversity and inclusion initiatives to encourage structural change. Its data highlights that individuals aren’t necessarily to blame for widespread issues. Despite 25% of Black employees feeling that they can’t be themselves at work, 89% still agree that they are treated with respect by their managers.
Stephens summarises: “Feelings of exclusion aren’t always brought on by day-to-day interactions or relationships with coworkers. Instead, they are often the result of broader processes and power structures—a lack of diversity and representation in leadership positions, pay disparities or unconscious bias hiring practices, for example.
“These are not structures that can change overnight, however, and require a constant, multifaceted approach to improve,” he continues. “It’s unsurprising that organisations have focused on hybrid working strategies, but ignoring long-term diversity and inclusion initiatives isn’t sustainable either. Business leaders may bring the majority of their workforces together logistically and personally while focusing on hybrid work, but is it at the expense of continually alienating ethnic minorities. Key is to first understand underlying issues to be able to create the best strategy of support.”