Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) can be sensitive topics in the workplace. Companies with formal DEI efforts can experience pushback from employees — of all backgrounds — who feel that there is too much attention given to training, workshops, surveys and other initiatives.
Employee pushback can come in three forms: denial about the problem, disengagement from the problem and derailing with a focus on important issues other than DEI.
“There isn’t the need to explain and kind of validate the need for diversity work within organizations,” says Vaishali Shah, vice president of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion at Randstad Sourceright. “However, there still is quite a bit of work to be done in terms of making sure that there is proper alignment, and that there is proper support for the work that needs to be done.”
Shah advises companies to encourage constructive conversations that allow employees to voice their objections. Then to follow those objections with an explanation about DEI as an engine for continued growth and innovation.
“Show them what their audience looks like and what their customer base looks like,” she says. “The goal is to be a better representation of the market that they’re targeting. And if they’re not a good representation of that, how are they ever going to grow into those markets?”