In recent years, many companies have invested in establishing expert roles inequity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)and in the development of policies, programs and initiatives in this area. Now, a few years later, how can we determine whether the right means and measurement indicators have been put in place to evaluate the tangible results of these initiatives? What role does human resources specialists who are not EDI experts play in diversity projects? We ask ourselves together: are your EDI initiatives achieving the desired impact?
In the form of a radio interview during the last HR Congress of the Order of CRHA, three panelists accepted our invitation to get to the bottom of things to candidly share the obstacles encountered, the success factors, the setbacks sword in the water and the solutions developed during their latest EDI projects.
Interview led by Julie Tardif, CRHA with panelists
Department Director and National Leader – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Deloitte
Ms Chloé Freslon
President and Founder, EDI consultation expert and media columnist, URelles
Bruno Valet, CRHA
Head, Human Resources, Montreal Symphony Orchestra
When I imagined this panel, I wanted to deepen the HR community’s thinking on what needs to be done beyond preventing microaggressions and promoting diversity. I was curious to hear from my peers on these issues and I thank them for warmly agreeing to speak with me… in public!
After an initial discussion together, we all had the strong impression that EDI strategies had plateaued this year. The majority of companies wanted to take action after the Black Lives Matter movement but most were content with, or faced with, prevention training. Moreover, several articles talk about the negative impact that the pandemic has had on the advancement of EDI, such as gender inequities which have increased, in addition to the fact that human resources services were mainly occupied in contingency plans.
Question: How did you ensure you went beyond preventative training?
I would say 3 things. First of all,1. A DEI Strategy and Vision: Why does my company value diversity? What is my company’s vision for DEI? What objectives are we aiming for? How does diversity bring value to my business?Next, 2. An ACTIVELY involved management team: The CEO with whom I have the chance to work believes in it, he trusts me and I act as a strategic advisor.Finally, 3. Performance indicators: it is almost impossible to measure our progress without having data, such as representativeness in recruitment and promotions, pulse surveys, etc.
Before even talking about preventive training, we had thoughts and questions about the role of EDI at the OSM (the abbreviation is DEIA for us, with Accessibility). Our reflections began more seriously in 2016 when a first report was produced. Later in 2018, we created an internal committee to address this issue, and this committee has done in-depth work on the place of EDI in the organization.
A DEIA charter has been written and distributed and we have included EDI actions in our new strategic plan. This plan is supported by the management of the OSM and approved by the Board of Directors.In short, to go further, you need real commitment from management and an action plan. DEIA must be a strategic priority and resources must be put into it (financial and HR).Like all changes, I have the impression that the success rate of implementing EDI actions is higher if the project is carried out by one or more members of the company’s management team and not by someone of the HR department. This is the case at the OSM and I believe that this demonstrates the importance of these questions.
For me the burning point is downtime. There has been a rise in social justice in 2020 and many companies have turned to promoting social justice. They have made changes in their mission-vision-values trio and they have sometimes established an EDI structure. But many missed out on downtime.If we want to go further than prevention, we must take some time to reflect on our actions..
It’s really very interesting to hear you share the same point of view on the essential commitment that senior management must make to have a real impact, and to take the time to stop and think about what we are doing. Bruno clearly demonstrates with his timeline that changes take time. However, as we all talked about it together, we believe that denunciations of microaggressions and the appearance of discrimination continue to increase. Do we improve over the years or not?
Question: How do you measure the impact of your prevention activities? of your strategies? Do you have the impact you are looking for?
It’s always the taboo question that we try not to ask ourselves, so we do well to put it on the table today. Perfection is far too difficult to achieve. We try to have the tangible with the intangible. The active participation of participants in training and the increase in skills on the subject is tangible. We see employees who are mastering new named vocabulary in training, it’s tangible.Do your employees use examples of microaggressions in a meeting context to stop them? It’s tangible, even if it’s not quantifiable. We also do surveys on the feeling of justice and we obtain data. We can even benchmark ourselves.
One thing is certain, it is still difficult to measure the impacts of our prevention activities. We did not have data in the past and therefore a comparison between BEFORE and AFTER was previously not possible. We now have more formal processes for collecting “complaints” or requests for accommodation. For example, we had to manage a complaint from an employee towards another colleague. The latter made remarks that were clearly microaggressions. Because we had received training on this subject (thanks to Julie and Iceberg Management), we could all put into words the behavior of the employee in question. This situation would probably never have been addressed just a few months ago. The affected employee would undoubtedly have been made uncomfortable by his colleague’s comment, but he might not have complained.In HR, now that we have the real definitions of microaggression, it is also easier for us to intervene to stop inappropriate behavior.. So here is an example of a direct impact between prevention activities and the desired impact.
I join Bruno. We are now starting to monitor. We are a very “DATA-driven” organization, we already had a lot of KPIs measured, but the difference now is the EDI angle in each thing.
Recruitment, candidate pools, we were already monitoring but now it is by equity group. Like the turnover rate, now it’s by equity group.
What do you mean by equity group?
the mission of dazzling the Canadian population. To do this, it was necessary to provide a % of women in the management teams, a % of indigenous people, a % of people with disabilities. Now these are monitored things.
How to avoid Tokenism and not be chosen for your difference?
First of all, it’s about equal skills. Then we look at the difference.We have to stop thinking that we have fair systems, we don’t. So we correct their effects with our actions. Today we have a better overview of before 2020 and after 2020. 1 year after George Floyd, there hadn’t been much. I come back to the denunciations. I think they are increasing, not because there weren’t any before, but rather because denunciations have been normalized in recent years. I come back with the importance of data: in addition to the previous examples, what does the number of complaints from your ombudsman look like before 2020 and after? At Deloitte, the desired impact is present, but I would like to be transparent with our audience and say that it is not instantaneous. It’s a marathon and it requires consistency. This year for example, I saw the fruit of certain efforts that we made 2 years ago. So we can see that we have to be patient.
Author’s note: You have just made it through a third of the way through the interview with my panelists. To obtain the full version, please contact our team:firstname.lastname@example.org