Many employers have a long-standing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) policy and DE&I training, but some find they don’t achieve the intended goals.
Experts discussed DE&I effectiveness at the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Conference on Nov. 10. They recommended determining what your goal is for having a DE&I policy and training. Is it to avoid discrimination lawsuits, foster an inclusive workplace, satisfy a board’s demand for diversity or recruit top talent?
DE&I training can help to reduce microaggressions in the workplace, which are behaviors that devalue people in a certain identity group. Examples of this include asking to touch a Black person’s hair, calling a Black woman aggressive, asking an Asian person where they are really from, and expecting women to take the meeting notes while men don’t, according to Kimya Johnson, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Philadelphia, and Melissa Pierre-Louis Washington, an attorney with the Washington Law Firm in Washington, D.C.
DE&I training can help to reduce implicit bias in decision-making about hiring, promotions, development opportunities, disciplinary actions and performance reviews. Examples of implicit bias include supervisors being more lenient toward employees who look and think like they do, judging women by their performance alone while judging men by their potential, and assuming that women will take on maternal and caregiving roles, according to Stacy Hawkins, a law professor at Rutgers Law School in Camden, N.J.