As today's workforce continues to evolve, professionals across generations cite inclusion as a key factor in determining whether they join, stay, or leave an organization. According to a new report from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) entitled "Unleashing the power of inclusion: attracting and engaging the evolving workforce,"80 percent of full-time employees surveyed online from a range of different sized organizations and industries across the U.S. indicated that inclusion is important when choosing an employer.
"Inclusion is significant for professionals today," said BJKLI founder and sports icon Billie Jean King. "It is imperative that organizations cultivate and showcase an inclusive culture if they want to win the race for high-performing talent, particularly millennials who are a key driving force of the future workplace."
The new Deloitte-BJKLI report, the third in a series of research reports focused on understanding the critical issues to achieve an inclusive culture, focuses on three areas: 1) the impact inclusion has on attracting and retaining talent; 2) what the workforce priorities are in an inclusion culture; and 3) what organizations can do to further embed inclusion into their culture.
"It is clear from our growing body of research that the evolving workforce – which now includes the entrance of Gen Z – will continue to disrupt how organizations approach inclusion," said Deborah DeHaas, chief inclusion officer at Deloitte LLP. "Professionals today increasingly want their work to be a reflection of their personal identity – and organizations need to take that to heart."
Challenging and redefining the status quo on inclusion
The definition of diversity and inclusion is shifting in the minds of today's professionals. To truly move the needle and advance inclusion in their organizations, respondents emphasized that inclusion priorities should include how their leaders and peers demonstrate inclusive behaviors in decision-making.
When asked to rank aspects of an inclusive culture they value most, respondents cited the following top three factors: "an atmosphere where I feel comfortable being myself" (47 percent); "an environment that provides a sense of purpose, where I feel like I make an impact" (39 percent); and "a place where work flexibility (parental leave, remote working, etc.) is provided as a top priority" (37 percent). These findings were relatively consistent across demographics (e.g., race, gender, ethnicity, etc.).
"These three elements – authenticity, purpose and flexibility – is what it's going to take for organizations to gain traction with their people and produce measurable results when it comes to inclusion," said DeHaas.
"People don't want to be just a checked box or another number in a diversity report, they want to make sure their presence is felt and welcomed," said King. "We have to continue to push the status quo to help drive change."
Moving beyond training and programming to foster inclusion
According to the Deloitte-BJKLI report, many of today's evolving workforce do not want inclusion to be solely a programmatic initiative or add-on; there's an expectation for inclusion to be fully embedded into an organization's foundational culture. Below are three recommendations to help organizations integrate inclusion into their overall strategy and structure:
- Reinforce the tone at the top: It is important for senior leadership to model inclusive behaviors that can be evaluated through performance expectation frameworks. Examples of behaviors include mentoring and sponsoring individuals from diverse backgrounds, and enabling employees to invest in their personal well-being in ways most meaningful to them.
- Integrate inclusion in overall business strategy and organizational culture: Throughout the talent lifecycle (e.g., recruitment, training, succession planning), organizations should clearly articulate and reinforce inclusive behaviors and development experiences for their professionals. For example, providing broader education and awareness around unconscious bias.
- Focus on experience and everyday behaviors: Organizations can go beyond traditional approaches to inclusion by embracing the intersectionality of their people, recognizing that each individual has distinct identities, strengths, and experiences that contribute to one's unique and authentic self.
To attract and retain today's top talent, organizations should remain laser-focused on fostering an inclusive culture, while being responsive to the needs and priorities of today's workforce.
About the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
The Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) is a nonprofit organization founded by Billie Jean Kingin partnership with Teneo as part of an effort to encourage companies, corporations, and individuals to embrace those with diverse personalities, backgrounds and lifestyles for the positive and unique contributions they bring to the workforce. The BJKLI's three pillars–Lift, Learn, and Lead–are dedicated to inspiring those in positions of power to promote diverse identities and challenge the status quo. As a result of the shared commitment to moving the needle on inclusion in global business environments, the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) and Deloitte have joined forces to identify the issues impacting today's diverse workforce. To learn more about the BJKLI and to find out ways your organization can get involved please visit BJKLI.
About the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion
The Deloitte University (DU) Leadership Center for Inclusion is a manifestation of Deloitte's commitment to advance the conversation, continue to challenge the status quo, and lead from the front in inclusion. Its mission is to fundamentally redefine inclusion as a central business imperative that demands a values-centered approach to unleashing human potential and driving business results. The center provides a platform for coming together to engage with our people, our clients, and thought leaders on issues that will help us better understand and contribute to what inclusion will look like in the future.
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world's most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 private and middle market companies. Our people work across more than 20 industry sectors to deliver measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to make their most challenging business decisions with confidence, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society.