Diversity Not Compromised by Pandemic

Is diversity performance overestimated?

by Mike Hunter

For businesses, workplace diversity remains an important objective. More than three-quarters of HR professionals (79 percent) believe their company is diverse, according to new data released in May from Clutch, the leading B2B ratings and reviews firm. Almost three-quarters of employees (74 percent) believe their company is committed to improving diversity.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 57 percent of employees say their company has become more diverse in the past year. Experts say this can be attributed to a more diverse American workforce overall and an increase in companies employing international workers.

Experts warn, however, that employees sometimes mistake their company having some diversity with having strong diversity. Employees believe their workplace is diverse, but they’re not the most objective or accurate judges. It is easy for people to overestimate their workplace’s diversity because people may think one employee of a different background represents the entire company, says Faizan Fahim, content marketing lead for ServerGuy, an IT company.

Female leadership and LGBTQ inclusion aren’t top priorities for employees. Just 1 in 5 (20 percent) workers value hiring more women into leadership positions, and 17 percent value increased recruiting of underrepresented groups. Only 14 percent of employees value heightening LGBTQ awareness and sensitivity at their company. The most popular diversity initiative is trainings, with 24 percent saying they would like employee diversity training and discussions at their workplace. 

Diversity plans can continue during the pandemic, despite challenges created by the COVID-19 business environment; new flexible work schedules allow for increased geographic and gender diversity. However, Jessica Lambrecht, founder of recruiting consultancy The Rise Journey, points out that growth and hiring can decrease while overall diversity goals remain the same.

Yet the study Executive Leadership Outlook 2020: Five Actions for Building a Stronger Executive Bench by global leadership consulting firm DDI reveals women vying for CEO are commonly overlooked; more than half of organizations didn’t assess a single female candidate when looking for their next CEO. When only one woman was in the CEO pool, she was never selected for the role. Furthermore, female candidates comprised only 25 percent of executive candidates and 19 percent of C-level candidates.

“The lack of diversity revealed in the Executive Leadership Outlook 2020 presents missed opportunities to identify and develop talent from new backgrounds and areas,” says Stephanie Neal, director of DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research. “Organizations that want to unleash new capabilities and future talent need to seek out leaders who think and operate differently. They’re going to need stronger, more inclusive pipelines to find these fresh perspectives and wisdom.”

Top Diversity Initiatives HR Professionals Want at Their Companies

Employee training and discussions 24%
Women in leadership 20%
More recruiting of underrepresented groups 17%
Racial and ethnic minorities in leadership 17%
LGBTQ awareness and sensitivity 14%
Donations to external diversity initiatives 6%

Do HR Professional Believe Their Company Is Committed to Workplace Diversity?

No 8%
Neutral 19%
Yes 74%

Source: Clutch 2020 Workplace Diversity Survey

Clutch is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Each month, over half a million buyers and sellers of services use the Clutch platform, and the user base is growing over 50 percent a year. Clutch has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. and has been listed as a top 50 startup by LinkedIn.

DDI is a global leadership consulting firm that helps organizations hire, promote, and develop exceptional leaders. From first-time managers to C-suite executives, DDI is by leaders’ sides, supporting them in every critical moment of leadership. Built on five decades of research and experience in the science of leadership, DDI’s evidence-based assessment and development solutions enable millions of leaders around the world to succeed, propelling their organizations to new heights.

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