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Swap Your Reactive DE&I Initiatives With These Proactive Strategies

June 10, 2021 at 10:30 AM


One year. That’s how long employees have been legally protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This landmark ruling was a vital and long overdue step in establishing equality and building greater opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace.

While the decision was foundational in establishing greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in all workplaces, it was just the beginning of a new era. This baseline protection neither ensures equal pay nor prevents implicit bias in hiring and promotion practices. Companies must still push themselves to do more than talk about Pride Month and other diversity celebration months. They must double down and proactively formulate and implement strategic, equity-focused plans to include and elevate their diverse staff.

There are various key tactics your organization should bake into its DE&I strategies, including, but not limited to the following:

Do #1: Honestly Evaluate Your Organization's Stance on DE&I

This first one might seem like it goes without saying, but it’s a vital first step. Organizations need to objectively evaluate themselves to understand where their actual DE&I gaps exist. Utilizing metrics and assessments can help prevent confirmation bias which could reinforce what companies think or want to do, compared to what diverse employees actually want and need. According to HR.com’s new study, The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021, sponsored by Wiley Beyond, only 30% of HR professionals believe their organization’s DE&I initiatives are very effective. Similarly, 59% think that their company’s DE&I strategy is underdeveloped. The reasons for underdeveloped strategies vary by organization, but the top three things that hinder successful DE&I programs are:

  • too few metrics to measure gaps in diversity (35%)
  • low comprehension of the benefits of DE&I initiatives (34%)
  • lack of buy-in from leadership (33%)

As a result, your organization should strive to obtain a 360 perspective on its current approach to DE&I to make your initiatives expert and impactful.

Download the Future of DE&I

Do #2: Search for and Close Pay Gaps

The ultimate goal of any advanced DE&I strategy should be to go beyond diversity and inclusion and deliver equity to employees. Among other outcomes, this means ensuring that everyone receives fair, measured, and equitable pay. Therefore, organizations should identify and close any pay gaps revealed by their company’s DE&I self-evaluation metrics. While wage gaps should not exist in theory, they still do in practice. For instance, studies show that gay men tend to earn 10-32% less than their heterosexual counterparts, and transgender women have seen their pay dwindle by one-third after transitioning from male to female.

 Organizations can significantly progress their DE&I strategies by measuring pay parity. However, it seems that many still need to implement this tactic as The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021 study revealed that only 41% of organizations measure pay with “clear pay-for-performance measures.” Even fewer (33%) have budgets specifically dedicated to closing pay gaps. While many organizations still need to adopt this advanced DE&I tactic, the benefits of closing pay gaps are evident. Considering that more inclusive companies see an average stock increase of 6.5% or that homophobia and transphobia are estimated to cost countries 1% of their GDP, companies should purposefully endeavor to bring more equity to their employees by closing pay gaps. It’s not only good for employees’ stability and well-being; it’s good for business.

Do #3: Provide Education Opportunities

Even if companies do a better job at creating systems that squash the potential for implicit bias, someone else’s past bias may inadvertently affect who they ultimately hire and promote. How so? The invisible sticking point could come down to education. While countless individuals from historically marginalized backgrounds have exceptional educational credentials, many more still have had fewer opportunities to obtain higher education due to past discrimination and systemic inequity than their more privileged counterparts. The effect becomes even more pronounced depending on how many intersectional identities with which a person lives. For instance, 26% of LGBTQ+ individuals are harassed in school due to an actual or perceived disability. Furthermore, people who have a disability and identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to drop out of school than LGBTQ+ individuals without a disability.

When organizations pass up diverse talent due to a lack of educational credentials, they miss the powerful opportunity to:

  • Correct widespread systemic inequities due to lack of education.
  • Innovate products and services for more targeted audiences only available through diverse life experience

Organizations need both the learned skills and cultivated life experience of diverse individuals to remain competitive and future-forward. Furthermore, including workplace-sponsored education in your DE&I strategy is one of the most powerful ways to level the playing field for all your current and future talent. Among other benefits, it can further their professional goals, increase their (bias-free) earning potential, develop the skills you need now and in the future, and improve your business outcomes.

At Wiley Beyond, our goal is to guide businesses through this time of profound societal and economic change. We believe education has the power to transform organizations. It’s a critical element of a successful DE&I initiative. 

We partner with companies to align talent strategy with business strategy.  For more information on how we can work with you to achieve your organizational goals, download The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021, and visit wileybeyond.com.

Download the Future of DE&I


Natasha DeJesus

Written by Natasha DeJesus

Natasha DeJesus is a Global DE&I Board Member at Wiley and Co-Chairs the Wiley Education Services DE&I Business Council. She is responsible for driving the DE&I enterprise strategy and is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace environment that enables colleagues to thrive and reach their fullest potential. Natasha is a Bronx, NY native and an alumnus of Colorado State University where she received her MS in Organizational Leadership.