HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

DEI challenges facing employers this year

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
Dei Challenges Facing Employers This Year

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) should be a key focus for employers looking to provide a healthy work environment for staff and, as UKG outlined, see a return on investment by improving engagement and retention.

Lander & Rogers partner and workplace relations and safety expert Aaron Goonrey said to The HR Leader that businesses that aren’t keeping up with DEI policy might see negative consequences.

“You’ve got many organisations [that] will question the return on investment in regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Accordingly, having a clear, measurable impact and strategy around this is going to be important for sustainable programs,” Mr Goonrey explained.

“The success of initiatives is going to be limited if leaders are not invested and detached from the responsibility to lead those initiatives. Some organisations and leaders may also be culturally resistant to change. You’ll often find that there are traditional managers and executives who will not really buy into diversity, equity, and inclusion, and then you have a responsiveness, or lack thereof, to changes within the community or adaptiveness to emerging issues.”


Unconscious bias is a hurdle for DEI. “One of the main things that is going to be challenging … is how unconscious bias can impact diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative and strategy, and how resources in relation to that are directed,” Mr Goonrey said.

“There is a natural instinct in some regards to recruit and promote people who are like you, people who come from the same background, people who look and sound like you. And I think when you are aware of that, that will inform you to make better decisions.”

Having a diverse workforce is more than reaching a quota. Mr Goonrey said that by creating an inclusive work environment, you are setting your business up for success by bringing in varied perspectives.

“I think businesses not only have a social responsibility but also an operational imperative because there are studies that clearly provide that where you have diversity within your workforce and at a leadership level, you are going to increase performance and actually set up the organisation for the ups and downs in economic downturns and economic upturns,” he said.

Mr Goonrey added: “It just makes good business sense to invest in that. In terms of training, that’s probably the first step … you really have to get leaders invested into it. You have to explain to them why diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are important.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Aaron Goonrey on 24 November 2022 is below, and the original podcast article with references can be found here.




Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias refers to discriminating choices made by a person without their knowledge as a result of internalised opinions towards certain individuals or groups of people. This may have a detrimental impact on hiring choices.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.