You’ve likely heard about the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and have likely seen companies around the world rushing to publicize their aspirational pledges. However, those pledges may not be having the positive impact that companies are hoping for. Why? People are tired of hearing promises when what they really want to see is change. In fact, there’s a term for it; it’s called diversity fatigue.
What is Diversity Fatigue and why is it happening?
Diversity Fatigue is a general feeling of exhaustion in response to discussions around DEI, and it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. It’s not that people don’t care, but that they are losing faith in public promises and wondering whether organizational efforts are resulting in any meaningful change. In fact, research supports this notion and shows that when public DEI commitments aren’t lived in the workplace, or when DEI strategies are poorly executed on, it can impact productivity as a result of frustration, resentment, and disengagement. It’s this disconnect between organizations’ promises and what actually happens at work, that causes this issue.
Focus on the Authentic Employee Experience
So, how do we address diversity fatigue and work on DEI effectively? By understanding the authentic employee voice and employee experience. Employee Value Propositions (EVP’s) aren’t just a science, they are also an art and a highly effective one. EVP’s are tools to powerfully understand and articulate what employees value most about working at your organization and they’re being built and leveraged by organizations everywhere to drive change. If you’re not familiar with what’s important when building and communicating an EVP, here are a few key things that separate the good from the great:
- Authentic: does your EVP reflect the authentic employee experience?
- Relevant: does it emphasize what talent values most about working with you?
- Aspirational: does your EVP talk a bit about the future and where you are headed?
- Differentiated: does it summarize what you have to offer in a unique way?
When it comes to building and communicating your DEI strategy, the elements above are just as important.
Introducing the DEI Value Proposition (DVP)
Every organization has a unique experience it offers when it comes to DEI. In fact, that is the basis for crafting a DEI Value Proposition (DVP) – it highlights the best of what you have to offer talent from a DEI perspective, no matter where you are in your journey. This is markedly different from most aspirational public pledges that we’re accustomed to seeing. That’s not to say that your DEI vision isn’t important. However, when anchored in an authentic experience, blended with your aspirational vision, and brought to life in a compelling and distinct way, DEI serves as both a foundation and catalyst for elevating your DEI and Employee Experience strategies. And that’s what you accomplish with a DVP.
If you haven’t heard about a DEI Value Proposition or DVP before, that’s because it’s a new term that we’ve come up with at Blu Ivy Group. We use it to describe the work we’ve been doing and the powerful ways that we have seen it support change at organizations, whether they set out to work on DEI exclusively or simply embed more authentic, differentiated DEI language in their EVP.
Building a DVP
As with building an EVP, it’s important to understand the current organizational climate and mood when it comes to DEI and building your DVP. This understanding of organizational mood, values, and sentiment is critical in determining how to best inform people about your DEI strategy, AND how to inspire them, get buy-in, and make this important work a source of pride.
- Authenticity matters. To avoid creating false expectations that result in candidate disillusionment and employee disengagement, it’s important to acknowledge who you are today and what is special about your culture from a DEI standpoint right now. It may not be all of those elements (D, E, and I) but, most likely, there is something that you’re already doing that will resonate with talent. Be specific about what’s great about DEI at your organization today, along with where you are headed, and how new hires can be part of the change you’d like to see. This ensures that they not only know what they’re getting into, but that they’re excited about it.
- DEI alone isn’t a differentiator. This may be controversial to some but, in many ways, DEI is a hygiene factor, much like compensation and health and safety. That doesn’t mean it isn’t critical; quite the opposite. DEI has become foundational and part of the ‘table stakes’ – which means that not doing something about DEI at your organization is no longer an option in the world of work, and simply saying that you have a DEI strategy isn’t going to be groundbreaking So, if you truly want to stand out and be seen as an employer that genuinely cares about and focuses on DEI, it’s important to communicate what you’re doing in a way that is authentic, differentiated, and builds trust.
How Does a DVP Help Elevate Your DEI Strategy and Employee Experience?
In a talent market flooded with aspirational commitments and pledges, a DVP helps you connect with, and stand out to talent, in a way that doesn’t cause diversity fatigue or result in people tuning out. That’s because DVP’s go beyond promises, pledges, or aspirational commitments and blend your aspirational and authentic cultural strengths in a compelling way that resonates with talent.
It’s not just about compelling wording either, part of the Blu Ivy Group secret to building an effective DVP is the inclusive process we go through to define it. By engaging with employees and leaders, and uncovering what they value most about DEI, their work experience, and what potential gaps may exist, we can develop a comprehensive view of how to best craft your DEI strategy across systems, processes, and capabilities in your organization. In fact, the work of developing a DVP is actually one of the most engaging parts of your DEI journey for you and your employees – it’s about practicing allyship and active listening right from the start.
If you are looking to learn more about how a DEI Value Proposition (DVP) can drive your Employee Experience and Business Strategy, or help amplify your existing DEI work, we’d love to connect for a discovery discussion. Send us an email to find a time.