Blog Post

Why Employee Listening Is a Nonnegotiable Investment for DEI and Talent Leaders

By Michael Rizzotti
October 9, 2023
Topics DEI Strategy

In today’s rapidly evolving corporate landscape, strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and talent initiatives have become essential components of any successful organization. DEI is not just about meeting diversity quotas or ticking checkboxes; it’s about fostering a culture that values the diverse experiences, perspectives, and voices within an organization.

DEI policies and initiatives are not the line items you should be cutting during this time. According to a Harvard Law memorandum, DEI should not be treated as a ”softer policy.” If set up as a support of business goals as opposed to a risk-avoidance tool, DEI makes “good business sense,” not just to reduce employee turnover but for better investor relations.

One often overlooked yet powerful strategy for achieving DEI and talent goals is to listen to your employees. The Harvard Law memorandum outlines how setting up a “listening architecture” that gives employees a space in which to share their thoughts and ideas openly is a key piece to effectively measuring the effects of your programs and strategies. Seramount creates this space for partners using employee voice sessions, an invaluable tool that partners return to year after year to measure the ROI of DEI and talent initiatives.

Without hearing what your employees have to say and then taking that information to build compromises between what your company can offer and what employees need, how can you truly measure the effect your strategy is having? Here are six reasons why the art of listening to employees is a cornerstone strategy for DEI and why it resonates with both DEI and Talent leaders.

Fostering Inclusivity and Talent Retention

Inclusivity is the heart of DEI. To create an inclusive work environment, leaders must recognize and appreciate the unique experiences and contributions of each employee. Actively listening to employees demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity, making them feel valued and heard. When employees believe their voices matter, they are more likely to stay with the organization, leading to higher talent retention rates, which is a concern for both DEI and Talent leaders.

Illuminating Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is a pervasive challenge that undermines DEI efforts. Listening to employees is a powerful tool for illuminating unconscious bias within an organization. Through open dialogue, leaders can uncover hidden prejudices, biases, and stereotypes, enabling them to address these issues proactively. By tackling unconscious bias, both DEI and Talent leaders create a more fair, more equitable environment that benefits all.

Leveraging Diverse Perspectives for Talent and Innovation

A diverse workforce offers untapped potential. By actively engaging with and harnessing the diverse perspectives and ideas of employees, organizations can drive innovation and foster talent development. For Talent leaders, this means nurturing a pool of creative thinkers, while DEI leaders see this as a way to promote equitable growth.

Building Trust and Talent Loyalty

Trust is a precious commodity in the world of business. When employees perceive their voices are being heard and their concerns are being taken seriously, it builds trust in the organization. Trust is essential for both DEI and Talent leaders: DEI leaders require trust to drive cultural change, while Talent leaders need it to retain high-performing individuals.

Tailoring DEI Initiatives for Talent Development

Customization is key for any successful DEI strategy. Listening to employees helps leaders understand the specific challenges and requirements of their teams. For Talent leaders, this means tailoring programs to nurture talent effectively. DEI leaders benefit by ensuring that initiatives are not generic, but rather specifically address the unique needs of their employees.

Promoting Accountability in DEI and Talent Development

Accountability is a cornerstone for both DEI and Talent development. By listening to employees and acting on their feedback, leaders not only gather valuable insights but also create a mechanism for tracking progress. When employees see that their input leads to real change, they are more likely to hold leadership accountable for DEI and Talent development commitments.

Listening to employees is a dynamic strategy that can elevate both DEI and Talent development efforts. It goes beyond meeting quotas and checks all the boxes; it builds trust, encourages innovation, and fosters loyalty among employees. In a world where talent is the most significant asset and where diversity and inclusion are critical success factors, the simple act of listening can be a transformative force. For DEI and Talent leaders alike, the power to listen is the power to shape a brighter, more inclusive and talent-rich future for their organizations.

If you are interested in working with our team and learning more about the Assess360 solution, please contact us.

About the Author

Michael Rizzotti
Head of Research, Measurement, and Insights