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Workplace Expectations: Employees Want to Work for Companies That Support Social and Environmental Causes

In the evolving landscape of corporate culture, businesses are discovering that supporting social and environmental causes is not just a trend; it’s a powerful strategy for attracting and retaining top talent. Today, employees and job seekers alike expect more from their employers than just a paycheck. They seek organizations that demonstrate a genuine commitment to making a positive impact on society and the environment. In this blog post, we’ll explore why companies that champion social and environmental causes are more appealing to current and potential employees.

The Evolution of Workplace Expectations

Gone are the days when employees were solely motivated by salary and benefits. A new generation of workers, coupled with shifting societal norms, has ushered in a new era of workplace expectations. Employees now want their work to align with their personal values, and they are increasingly looking to join organizations that share these values.

Attracting Top Talent

  1. Alignment with Personal Values: Employees are drawn to companies that align with their personal values. When a company supports social and environmental causes, it sends a clear message that it cares about more than just profits—it cares about the well-being of society and the planet.
  2. Increased Job Satisfaction: Working for a socially and environmentally responsible company often leads to increased job satisfaction. Employees are more engaged when they believe their work is contributing to a greater good.
  3. Retention: Companies that support social and environmental causes tend to have higher retention rates. Employees are more likely to stay with an organization that shares their commitment to making a positive impact.
  4. Attracting Millennials and Gen Z: These younger generations are particularly passionate about social and environmental issues. Companies that prioritize these causes are more likely to attract and retain millennial and Gen Z employees.

Leading by Example

In today’s corporate landscape, leadership extends beyond the boardroom. It’s not just about profits; it’s about purpose. Companies that support social and environmental causes lead by example, inspiring their employees to be part of something bigger than themselves.

  1. Enhanced Reputation: Companies known for their social and environmental responsibility enjoy a better reputation, which can translate into stronger customer loyalty and brand trust.
  2. Customer and Investor Appeal: Many consumers and investors prefer to support businesses that are socially and environmentally conscious. This can lead to increased sales and investment opportunities.
  3. Innovation and Adaptation: A focus on social and environmental causes often drives innovation. Companies that tackle complex global challenges are more likely to adapt successfully to changing market dynamics.
  4. Global Impact: By addressing social and environmental issues, companies can make a meaningful global impact, contributing to a better world for all.

It’s clear that companies that support social and environmental causes are more appealing to current and potential employees. As expectations in the workplace continue to evolve, businesses must recognize the importance of aligning their values with those of their workforce. By doing so, they not only attract top talent but also inspire a sense of purpose and responsibility that can lead to a brighter and more sustainable future for all. In this era, leaders must bring social issues to the head of the table, recognizing that business success is intricately tied to making a positive impact on the world.

The Vital Role of Transparent Targets, Goals, and D&I Initiatives in Modern Companies

In today’s rapidly evolving corporate landscape, companies that prioritize transparency in setting targets, goals, and Diversity and Inclusion initiatives stand out as leaders in fostering a more equitable and sustainable future. This commitment not only benefits employees but also has a profound impact on a company’s culture, reputation, and overall success – and these DEI cornerstones should be at the forefront of every organization’s strategy.

Setting Clear Targets and Goals

  1. Fostering Accountability: Transparency in setting targets and goals creates a sense of accountability within an organization. When everyone understands what is expected, they are more likely to work collaboratively toward achieving these objectives.
  2. Measurable Progress: Clear targets and goals provide a yardstick to measure progress and success. They enable companies to track their achievements, identify areas that need improvement, and adjust their strategies accordingly.
  3. Motivation and Engagement: Employees are more motivated and engaged when they have a clear understanding of the company’s vision and goals. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
  4. Attraction and Retention of Talent: Companies that openly communicate their objectives are often more attractive to top talent. Potential employees are more likely to be drawn to organizations with a clear commitment to progress and growth.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Initiatives

  1. Enhanced Workplace Culture: Transparent D&I initiatives demonstrate a commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture where diversity is not just accepted but celebrated. This inclusivity fosters a sense of belonging among employees, leading to greater retention rates and improved morale.
  2. Improved Decision-Making: Diverse teams are known to make better decisions. By setting D&I goals and initiatives, companies actively seek diverse perspectives, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions.
  3. Expanded Market Reach: A diverse and inclusive workforce better understands the needs and preferences of a diverse customer base. This can open doors to new markets and opportunities, ultimately driving growth and revenue.
  4. Reputation and Brand Enhancement: Companies that champion D&I initiatives tend to have stronger reputations and brands. Consumers and investors increasingly value businesses that are socially responsible and inclusive.

The Power of Transparency. Transparency is the foundation upon which successful targets, goals, and D&I initiatives are built. Here’s why it matters:

  1. Building Trust: Openness in communication builds trust between leadership and employees. Trust is crucial for a cohesive and motivated workforce.
  2. Accountability: Transparent reporting on progress, whether related to financial goals or D&I initiatives, holds companies accountable for their commitments.
  3. Learning and Adaptation: Transparent reporting allows companies to learn from their successes and failures, making it easier to adapt strategies for continuous improvement.
  4. Stakeholder Confidence: Investors, customers, and partners are more confident in companies that are transparent about their objectives and progress, which can translate into long-term support.

In an era where social responsibility, inclusivity, and sustainability are paramount, companies that set transparent targets, goals, and D&I initiatives are better equipped to thrive. They foster a culture of accountability, attract top talent, and enhance their reputation, all while contributing positively to society. As we look toward the future, it’s clear that transparency isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a cornerstone of successful and responsible business practices.

DEI Initiatives Facing Cutbacks Amid Corporate Backlash and Economic Downturns

Following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives gained significant traction in the corporate world. These initiatives have been crucial in fostering a more inclusive workplace environment and addressing systemic inequalities. However, the current economic landscape has led to budget constraints and cutbacks that threaten the progress made in this realm. Faced with an uncertain economy, companies have already been laying off large numbers of people, including many only recently hired to implement their DEI strategies. According to a study by Revelio Labs, one in three DEI professionals lost their roles over a one-year period ending in December of 2022. Over that period, non-DEI workers experienced a relatively lower attrition rate of 21%.

As companies face tough decisions about resource allocation, it’s essential to examine the challenges and potential solutions for maintaining and advancing DEI initiatives.

The Importance of DEI Initiatives

DEI initiatives encompass a range of efforts aimed at ensuring fair representation, equal opportunity, and respect for all employees, regardless of their background. These initiatives go beyond compliance; they empower employees, boost morale, and enhance innovation by fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are valued. Research consistently shows that diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones, making DEI a critical driver of business success. Company success is inextricably tied to employee presence, engagement, and productivity, and DEI initiatives continue to aid in supporting employees’ well-being.

Challenges Amid Cutbacks

While the benefits of DEI initiatives are clear, economic downturns or budget constraints can lead to challenges that impede their progress, such as resource allocation (DEI initiatives are perceived as ‘non-essential’), loss of momentum (building an inclusive culture takes time and cutbacks can stall progress leading to disillusionment among employees), inequitable budget cutbacks that disproportionately affect marginalized employees and communities, and the hindrance of a company’s flow of fresh ideas from diverse teams.

Mitigating the Impact

Even before the economic and political pressures of this year, corporate diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have come under harsh criticism, including that they’re expensive, performative, even a source of division themselves.

Cutbacks don’t have to lead to the dismantling of DEI initiatives. Instead, companies can adopt strategies to navigate these challenges while maintaining their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Every organization has the same goals: to make and save money, and to achieve a vision. When DEI is tied to at least one of these goals, it becomes harder for them to come under the chopping block. The following strategies will help companies remain committed to and see the value in their DEI initiatives. 

  • Strategic Approach: Prioritize DEI initiatives that have proven the most impact and align with the company’s core values. Focusing on key areas can help preserve progress even with limited resources.
  • Leadership Commitment: Senior leadership’s continued commitment to DEI is vital. When leaders champion these initiatives, it reinforces their importance to the entire organization.
  • Employee Involvement: Encourage employees to actively participate in DEI efforts, fostering a sense of ownership and shared responsibility. This can help maintain momentum even when dedicated resources are constrained.
  • Leverage Technology: Technology solutions and tools can streamline DEI efforts, making them more efficient and reducing the strain on resources.
  • External Partnerships: Collaborate with external organizations, nonprofits, and experts in the DEI space. They can provide valuable insights, resources, and support, often at a fraction of the cost of building everything in-house.

The rapid organizational movement toward addressing inequalities was initially exciting for DEI professionals. But in just a couple of years, that excitement has wavered as growth rapidly fell apart. While economic challenges can put pressure on corporate DEI initiatives, they don’t have to result in irreversible setbacks. Maintaining a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is crucial for fostering a workplace that thrives on varied perspectives, respects every employee, and encourages innovation. Legal experts remain split on what’s ahead for these efforts, while longtime diversity advocates argue that companies should take these setbacks as an opportunity to reset.

By adopting a strategic approach, leveraging leadership commitment, and engaging employees, companies can weather the storm of cutbacks while continuing to progress on their DEI journey.

DEI Books and DEI Authors

  • DEI Deconstructred
  • The Inclusive Organization
    • Author: Netta Jenkins
  • Breaking Through – The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Trainers – Foster DEI in the Workplace
    • Author: Maria Morukian
  • Diversity Intelligence – How to Create a Culture of Inclusion for your Business
    • Author: Heidi R. Andersen
  • Inclusalytics
    • Author: Victoria
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in Coaching
    • Author: Salma Shah
  • Alphabet Soup
    • Author: Michael Bach
  • Evidence Based Inclusion
    • Author: Dr. Lauran Star
  • Subtle Acts of Exclusion
    • Authors: Tiffany Jana, Michael Baran
  • Diversity in Organizations: A Critical Examination
    • Authors: Cedric Herring and Loren Henderson
  • Woke Racism
    • Author: John McWhorter
  • Reconstructing Inclusion
    • Author: Amri B. Johnson
  • The Waymakers – Changing The Path To Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence
    • Author: Tara Jaye Frank
  • Evidence Based Management
    • Author: Eric Barends; Denise M Rousseau
  • Inclusion Uncomplicated – A Transformative Guide to Simplify DEI
    • Author: Dr. Nika White
  • Understanding Psychological Contracts at Work
    • Author: Neil Conway and Rob B. Briner
  • Getting to Diversity
    • Author: Frank Dobbins & Alexandra Kalev
  • i’m not yelling
    • Author: Elizabeth Leiba
  • Inclusive Leadership
    • Author: Charlotte Sweeney & Fluer Bothwick
  • deep diversity – a compassionate, scientific approach to achieving racial justice
    • Author: shakil choudhury
  • Gentelligence
    • Authors: Megan Gerhart, Phd; …
  • Beyond Diversity
    • Rahit B.
  • The Memo
    • Author: Minda Harts
  • The Wake Up
    • Author: Michelle Mijung Kim
  • Neurodiversity at Work
    • Author(s): Theo Smith and Amanda Kirby
  • Diversity, Inc.
    • Author: Pamela Newkirk
  • I’m Tired of Racism
    • Author: Sharon Hurley Jall
  • The Colour of Class
    • Author(s): Nicola Rollock, Carol Vincent, David Gillborn, Stephen J. Ball
  • An Everyone Culture
    • Author(s): Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey, Matthew Miller, Andy Fleming, and Deborah Helsing

Neurodiversity in DEI

Neurodiversity is an approach to understanding and accepting neurological differences in individuals. It acknowledges that there is a natural variation in how the human brain works, and that this variation is not necessarily a disorder or a disability. Instead, neurodiversity views these differences as unique strengths and qualities that can be beneficial to society.

In the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), neurodiversity is an important aspect to consider. It is a way to recognize and celebrate the diversity of human cognition and experiences, and to create inclusive environments that value and support people with different ways of thinking and processing information.

Incorporating neurodiversity in DEI initiatives can help organizations to create more inclusive workplaces, foster innovation and creativity, and improve productivity and employee well-being. It can also help to reduce stigma and discrimination towards individuals with neurological differences, and promote a more positive and accepting culture.

Some strategies that can be used to support neurodiversity in DEI initiatives include:

  1. Providing accommodations and adjustments in the workplace, such as flexible work arrangements, assistive technology, and sensory-friendly environments.
  2. Encouraging open communication and dialogue about neurodiversity, and promoting education and awareness about different neurological conditions and their impact on individuals.
  3. Building a culture of acceptance and respect, where individuals are valued for their unique strengths and contributions, and where diversity and inclusion are celebrated.
  4. Providing training and support for managers and colleagues on how to work effectively with neurodivergent individuals, including how to communicate, provide feedback, and support their development.

Overall, incorporating neurodiversity in DEI initiatives is an important step towards creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces, where all individuals are valued and supported to reach their full potential.

Your Queer Staff Wants More Than PRIDE Logos

At Intersections, we find that many organizations don’t know where to start, and in return — often remain stagnant while employees may be searching for active support and long-term action within their organization. 

Here’s a multiple choice question for you. During Pride Month, most or many organizations fall into the following pattern:

  1. Promoting LGBTQ+ support through a pride flag in their corporate logo for the month of June.
  2. Finding an internal authentic route to supporting LGBTQ+ community/employees. 
  3. Both
  4. None of the above. 

You might have chosen A because this is the actual change that we are used to seeing. 

This is just one of many examples of performative and proactive social justice practices within organizations. Companies are more likely to showcase their external support rather than work towards and encouraging space internally. We call this performative. 

The correct answer is D, none of the above. We’re doing the work, here is the qualitative and quantitative data to show it.

As a consulting firm, we engage in best practices with our clients to embed long term, data driven, Inclusive practices into the organization. If pride month comes around or any other holiday; they can share the work that they’ve been doing all year as opposed to changing their logo for a month (which is surprisingly costly). This money could be better used as a donation to a local LGBTQ+ center or program. If you have worked for an organization and shared these opinions, most likely you were met with leadership excuses. 

Leadership excuses for Proactive and long-term DEI Support may look like…

  • “We support everyone, we don’t want to only celebrate certain demographics
  • “We don’t see a problem. If you point it out and prove it to us, we’ll correct it.”
  • “It’s not actively happening but it happened in the past. Only 2 individuals within the company have reported this, and they are no longer here.”
  • “We just can’t support it within the budget right now”
  • “We can’t handle an internal uproar right now. We need to focus on attaining our goals this quarter.”
  • “If we hire more ____ folks, it will get better.”

The Reality for Leadership

The new generation of workers and consumers are looking for employers that invest in them and their values. Consumers are certainly becoming more aware and starting to choose more careers and products based on diversity and inclusion. We find that leadership practices should not only place value upon diversity and inclusion, but prioritize it as an organizational asset. 

“To engage a new generation of workers and consumers—many of whom choose careers and products based on diversity and inclusion—companies must move beyond public gestures of support for LGBTQ+ issues to create a more positive work experience.” (McKinsey, July 2020)

“If a company disengages or actively chooses to perform diversity and inclusion in impractical ways, they will lose.” – Adrienne & Brittany Glover

For marginalized employees, the silence often becomes numbing and often breeds the following emotions:

Employees Think:

  • “It will get better in time, I hope.”
  • “Someone will see it and help me.”
  • “They recognize and appreciate me showing up, while also appreciating my knowledge and skill set to code-switching.”
  • “How will discrimination and bias affect my career?”
  • “I am going to another company where I am valued.”

The Reality for Employees

  •  “I am going to another company where I am valued.”
  • “I am starting my own business where I and my staff value all employees.”

We’ve organized the top five things you can do now to plan more authentically for next year. 

  1. Ongoing Active Listening

What this looks like: Invest in understanding the demographics and pulse of the organization in order to best support the authentic individuals within the organization.

  1. Clear Policies and Procedures: 

What this looks like: Updated Anti-Discrimination policies, Diversified access to healthcare, and DEI value systems

  1.  Supportive statements for communities 

What this looks like: Employee Wellness Approach, Black Lives Matter and diversifying healthcare access  and support for LGBTQ+ employees and families.)

  1. Invest in Community Efforts that support your Company Values 

What this looks like: Show support through donation and highlighting local history

  1. Foster Gender-Neutral Environments 

What this looks like: Equal opportunity and workspaces for all genders

Now you have an entire year to put this into practice.

Our hope is that this brief article will help you refocus your efforts in educating and supporting not only your valued employees, but also those you do business with.