Is Your HR Department Helping Or Hurting Your Diversity Efforts?

HR diversity

When it comes to your company’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, typically the Human Resource (HR) Department in your organization is the go-to. Because HR is normally in charge of attracting, recruiting and retaining employees within your organization, they are in a perfect position to implement D&I trainings, programs, and initiatives. When ensuring that organizational leaders are emotionally intelligent, competent and effective in their roles, it often falls back on the HR team. With so much power to impact change within an organization, HR plays a critical role in the organization’s success and sustainability. But often HR falls short in these efforts and more and more companies are finding that there is a lack of alignment between HR and effective D&I strategy. Popular media often depicts employees as having a love/hate relationship with their company’s HR department, with many employees having a certain level of mistrust toward the department. The skepticism and doubt that many have towards their HR department makes it more challenging to implement real and effectual changes. In order to assess the effectiveness of your HR department when implementing D&I efforts, it’s crucial to first understand the different ways that your HR department can actually impact positive changes as well as some of the ways that your HR department may be impeding your company’s D&I success.

  1. Lack of knowledge and understanding. HR usually plays a key role when introducing and implementing D&I programs into the workplace. There is a lot of research that indicates D&I programs are ineffective for a number of different reasons. According to Harvard Business Review, some best practices when implementing a D&I program are to “engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability.” There may be a disconnect between current D&I practices and what is actually effective, but there is a wealth of free resources that can be used to close this gap. Employees should be aware of the mounting evidence that indicates that diversity boosts creativity and innovation, which may incentivize skeptical employees who are resistant to D&I efforts. Is HR aware that by allowing employees more opportunities to connect with their coworkers from different backgrounds, that this may elicit the contact hypothesis, which posits that increased contact with different groups can decrease prejudice and bias? HR should have a thorough understanding of the research and best practices; this is a critical part of creating an effective D&I program. (read more)

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