Is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a Waste of Time?
It’s been almost a year since the news of George Floyd’s murder sparked worldwide discussion around racial equality and injustice. As communicators, we were advising clients on if, how and when to make statements on the topic. We’ve been asked to look at diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, how does that play out in the client’s branding and key messaging. We were (and still are) being asked if our clients (and ourselves for that matter) are doing enough to address DE&I. Are we doing the right things when it comes to DE&I?
The truth is the topic of diversity and inclusion has been part of our discussions for years. I can remember attending PRSA national conferences upwards of 15 years ago and the topic was being talked about then. Adding the equity statement may be relatively new, but the ideas are certainly not.
In fact, this week I attended a Counselors Academy session on DE&I, featuring PR practitioners from the Black, LGBTQ and Hispanic communities. And as the moderator admitted, as diverse as the panel was, it still wasn’t completely diverse or inclusive as there were other cultural and ethnic communities not represented.
One of the things that struck me most about the panel discussion this week versus others that I attended over the past year was the focus on action. It isn’t enough just to talk about DE&I, we have to do something about it. No matter how small the action might be, doing something small is better than doing nothing at all.
Which makes the findings of a recent study conducted by United Minds, a division of Weber Shandwick, so unsettling. The survey found that nearly 40 percent of C-Suite leaders say DE&I is a “waste” of time and resources. Even more troubling is that 34 percent of staffers agree with C-Suites on this.
How can something that has gripped our country, been dominating discussions and social media feeds non-stop for months be a waste of time?
The survey does, however, point to some positives including the importance DE&I when it comes to recruitment and retention, organizational reputation and the bottom line.
The takeaway for me? It is not a waste of time and in fact, there are solid business reasons to make a commitment and an investment in DE&I initiatives.