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Future of Work

The Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Recruitment and Retention

The National Diversity Council fosters inclusion in workplaces by supporting companies with resources to successfully implement diversity, equity, and inclusion in their recruitment and retention best practices.

Ángeles M. Valenciano

CEO, National Diversity Council

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) believe it is very important for companies and organizations to promote racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace, with 69 percent of Black and 52 percent of Hispanic individuals strongly agreeing with this statement. 

In another survey regarding the gender wage gap, 25 percent of women said they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job, while just 5 percent of men say they have earned less than their female peers. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,  the unemployment rate for individuals with a disability increased to 12.6 percent in 2020, an increase of more than 5 percent from the previous year. 

In a report on “The Recruitment, Hiring, Retention and Engagement of Military Veterans,” 55 percent of veterans surveyed report employment as a top transition challenge, despite many having the skills to address talent shortages. 

Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure that organizations are weaving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into the fabric of their culture to reap the benefits of an inclusive workplace. 

Pandemic impact

According to a report by McKinsey and Company, diverse employees have struggled the most during the COVID-19 crisis. Women are 1.5 times as likely than men to report acute challenges in transitioning to a “new normal” during the pandemic. LGBTQ+ individuals are 1.4 times more likely to report challenges with performance reviews, increase in work responsibilities, and belonging in the workplace. 

In terms of career progression and an increase in household responsibilities, multicultural populations are 2.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to report acute challenges

As the pandemic changes the way companies engage in the work environment, their existing strategies around DEI must reflect the changing needs of their employees. Employers should create virtual safe spaces where psychological safety is valued, and provide valuable wraparound services and resources where marginalized groups can seek assistance. 

Employers should also provide general mental health resources that acknowledge the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable populations in relation to employment opportunities, career trajectory and growth, racial and ethnic disparities, gender biases, and disability and veteran disengagement. 

The pandemic provides an opportunity to address these challenges more proactively and in a way that lends respect to varying employee challenges. 

Best practices

Based on research conducted within our DiversityFIRST™Certification Program, organizations that are considering the DEI journey can start with these timeless best practices:

  • Conduct a cultural assessment of the organization
  • Link DEI strategy to business results
  • Emphasize mentoring and coaching, including through employee networks
  • Allocate resources to  team-building exercises
  • Pay attention to diversity of thought, not only to demographic diversity
  • Get buy-in from leadership and all employees by focusing on the business case for diversity
  • Incorporate metrics and evaluation  

As time progresses, the National Diversity Council (NDC) has witnessed an increase each year in corporations committing to DEI. The NDC tracks current data around DEI efforts through its National Diversity Council Index. 

The NDC Index is an annual measurement of organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion among companies in the United States. It rates companies on CEO engagement; benefits, policies, and initiatives; supplier diversity; community engagement; and corporate social responsibility. 

Companies receive a report to help identify strengths and opportunities in their diversity and inclusion strategy. The report includes a best practices scorecard and a comparative analysis of the assessment areas across participating companies. 

In 2021, the NDC Index recognized 38 companies that participated. Companies can participate at no cost by visiting

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