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Perceptyx Data Shows DEIB’s Enduring Importance for EX

Perceptyx Data Shows DEIB’s Enduring Importance for EX

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives have faced numerous challenges over the past year, yet they remain a vital part of the employee experience. Despite legislative setbacks and a reduction in dedicated DEIB roles, many organizations continue to prioritize these efforts, recognizing their importance in fostering an inclusive workplace culture. In this article, I want to examine the persistence of DEIB, referencing key research and expert insights to underscore its enduring relevance.

Legislative Challenges and Organizational Responses

Since 2023, several states have enacted anti-DEIB bills, leading to significant changes in how colleges and universities design and execute DEIB programs. This legislation has resulted in the loss of jobs and the closure of multicultural and LGBTQ+ centers, among other impacts. Even though this is just one of many industry sectors, it bears noting because many think that anti-DEIB legislation targeting state universities (and other aspects of state government) is leading private corporations to question the implications, costs, and even legal repercussions of DEIB work in their organizations as well. 

However, Perceptyx’s benchmark data shows the persistence and expansion of DEIB efforts, despite legislative challenges, highlighting the importance that many organizations and institutions place on fostering inclusive environments. As I noted in this HR Morning article about the supposed “Death of DEI” from October 2023, this new phase of DEIB will succeed if it expands beyond legal compliance to address long-term organizational improvement and culture — which is what the best organizations remain committed to doing.

The Continued Importance of Measuring DEIB Sentiment

According to our benchmark data, there has been a notable increase in the number of organizations measuring key DEI sentiments over the past year. This trend reflects a growing recognition of the importance of understanding and improving employee experiences related to diversity and inclusion.

Change in Percentage of Organizations Measuring Key DEI Sentiments

As seen in the above figure, our benchmark data highlights several positive trends. For instance, there has been a 5-point increase in the percentage of organizations measuring employees' sense of belonging, suggesting that efforts to create more inclusive environments are resonating with companies. The percentage of organizations tracking whether employees feel they can be their authentic selves at work has risen by 6 points, indicating a broader focus on authenticity. Additionally, the percentage of organizations assessing whether diversity is valued has increased by 4 points, while the percentage of organizations measuring sentiments around fair treatment has remained stable. These findings demonstrate that, despite external pressures and changing political landscapes, more organizations are committed to measuring DEIB insights. 

Organizations continue to measure DEIB sentiments for several reasons. One major factor is the continued importance of DEIB to Gen Z employees. As we have noted here previously, Gen Z places a high value on working in inclusive environments — making it essential for companies to measure and address these sentiments to attract and retain young talent. Additionally, insights from Perceptyx's The State of Employee Listening 2024 report indicate that DEIB remains a top theme for organizations. Regular measurement of DEIB sentiments helps organizations stay attuned to employee needs and expectations, ensuring that their DEIB strategies are relevant and effective. 

Adapting DEI Strategies: The Importance of Belonging in Employee Experience

In addition to the increase in item usage, discussions with customers reveal that DEIB remains a focus area for many, though it is evolving. Some organizations are transitioning their DEI strategies into broader “belonging” efforts, while others are folding DEI investments under the larger umbrella of “Engagement and Culture.” This shift reflects a broader trend in which organizations are placing less emphasis on representation and diversity metrics, due to proposed legal implications, and more emphasis on the broader employee experience. This approach can still help to identify potential concerns, biases, and areas for improvement without directly confronting what some may perceive as contentious diversity or equity issues. 

As terms like “Diversity” develop a more negative connotation for some groups, shifting to an overall Belonging strategy allows organizations to continue their DEI work while ensuring inclusivity. This change in nomenclature has been helpful for some organizations in maintaining broad support. However, it’s crucial to reinforce that this isn’t a “cop out” and the underlying mission remains: to help employees succeed, feel connected, and show up as their best, most authentic selves.

Belonging tends to be a prerequisite for employee engagement, making it natural for organizations to measure these sentiments in their listening strategies. Perceptyx data has shown that belonging is a top driver of engagement, reinforcing the importance of fostering a sense of belonging to create an engaged and connected organization. This focus on belonging helps organizations address potential areas of concern, biases in processes, and the need for standardization or reform.

Embedding DEIB into Organizational Culture

Our data is clear: organizations committed to regular DEIB measurement and data-driven action planning are seeing tangible benefits. Understanding sentiments around DEIB remains critical for organizations that aim to enhance the employee experience regardless of whether DEIB rebranding efforts have been mandated from above. To ensure DEIB work remains effective, it must be deeply woven into the fabric of the organization, making it "too embedded to fail." This involves several strategic actions:

  • Avoid Isolated DEIB Departments: Organizations should avoid creating isolated DEIB departments staffed by a few employees who are solely responsible for all DEI initiatives. Instead, DEIB efforts should be integrated across all departments, fostering accountability and ensuring that every team contributes to moving initiatives forward. This integration helps embed DEIB principles into the daily operations and culture of the organization, rather than treating them as peripheral activities.

  • Utilize Company Culture as the Foundation: The company's culture should serve as the bedrock for its DEIB strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to DEIB, and the most successful strategies are those tailored to meet the unique needs and core values of the organization. By aligning DEIB efforts with the company's cultural values and getting executive buy-in, organizations can create more relevant and impactful initiatives that resonate with employees.

  • Track Progress and Align with Business Outcomes: Tracking progress is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of DEIB programs. Organizations should regularly measure key DEIB metrics to evaluate the impact of their initiatives. This tracking not only demonstrates the efficacy of the programs but also provides valuable insights into which initiatives are working and which need to be refined or changed. Moreover, aligning DEIB programs with broader business outcomes ensures that these efforts contribute to the overall success of the organization, reinforcing their importance and sustainability.

DEIB Remains an Essential Facet of the Employee Experience

By continuing to prioritize DEIB and integrating it into all aspects of their operations, organizations can create workplaces where all employees feel valued, included, and empowered to be their authentic selves. An experienced listening partner like Perceptyx can help you craft a strategy to measure DEIB and easily track the right metrics while developing a thorough understanding of what drivers of engagement will improve them over time. To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team. 

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