Diversity, equity and inclusion has become one of the most important topics in recruiting and HR circles.

It’s a key issue for many organizations. Study after study has shown that diverse organizations are more profitable, more successful, more innovative, you name it.

We can all agree that diversity is beneficial for business.

Where things get more complicated is how we actually create more diversity within an organization!

Although companies have spent billions of dollars to improve DEI, many organizations have little to show for it.

It begs the question:

Are you treating the symptoms of DEI challenges…or the root causes?

Why Many DEI Challenges Throw Money Down the Drain 

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to recruiting is investing in recruiting without looking at the bigger picture. 

Take turnover. Many organizations are having a terrible time retaining top talent these days. Their first move is to jump to recruiting to fill all these open seats. Then more people quit, and the process starts all over. It’s a vicious cycle. 

But if you look at the big picture of the business, this makes zero sense! 

If you don’t look at WHY turnover is occurring and address the underlying causes, you’re wasting every dollar you spend on recruiting talent that’s only going to quit soon anyway. 

All you’ve accomplished is speeding up a broken process. 

The same can be said for DEI. If you use recruiting to treat the symptom of the problem without understanding the root causes, you are going to waste your money! 

Potential Causes of DEI Challenges 

There’s a lot of potential reasons why an organization may struggle with DEI. If you’re serious about improving it, you have to carefully examine why your team struggles here. 

In many instances, people jump to conclusions that it’s because of systemic racism within the organization. While that’s entirely possible, there are a lot of other possible reasons too. 

For example, maybe recruiters are trained to recruit from specific talent pools that aren’t very diverse. Maybe they are only given the support or tools to recruit from these talent pools – and need extra help tapping into new ones. Maybe you lack diverse leadership, or company culture and policy are more exclusive than you realize. 

Another common cause is that an industry as a whole is not very diverse. In this case, rather than investing primarily in recruiting, it might make sense to recruit from other industries and spend resources on upskilling those employees. 

It circles back to the turnover issue. If you jump to recruit diverse talent without considering whether they’ll truly gel with your organization, they’ll quit shortly afterwards and you’ll be back at square one – minus your recruiting expenses! 

DEI Missteps are Costly 

One of the most important parts of any successful DEI initiative is buy-in across the organization. If people across your company don’t understand the value of DEI and believe your DEI initiative will succeed, it’s never going to be successful. 

If you dive into recruiting for DEI without understanding WHY your organization struggles with it, you’re likely to fail. And when that happens, people will be skeptical of your next DEI initiative. 

It’s kind of like the carpentry saying – “measure twice, cut once.” Take the time to make sure you’re choosing the right action for your situation. Make sure you’re taking the right course of action. If you don’t, you could set back your DEI efforts for years or longer! 

You Can’t Solve a Challenge Until You Understand It 

Time and time again I see businesses throwing money at a problem or brainstorming solutions before they’ve taken the time to understand it. It doesn’t work – and it never will. Even worse, it’s a waste of your time and resources, and undermines your team’s confidence in your ability to solve these challenges. 

Put in the time. Interview candidates who quit – and ask them why they feel the organization struggles with DEI. Interview current employees from the C-suite to the entry level. Hire an outside consultant if you have the funds and need an outside perspective. Whatever you do…don’t rush to solve the challenge without stopping to study it first!