This February, we’re celebrating Black History Month, an annual celebration of African Americans’ achievements throughout U.S. history until today.

Since 1976, every U.S. President has designated February as Black History Month. This recognition is not limited to the United States. Other countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black histories. But is this enough? Simply put, no, it’s not. Especially in the workplace.

There’s no time like the present for companies to take an introspective look at their hiring, retention, and promotion practices to see if they’re prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Keep reading to learn more about where we collectively stand with DEI in 2023.

The Current State of DEI Affairs

It’s been a tough few years.  From the global pandemic to the war in Ukraine to an uncertain economic future, employers and employees both have faced challenges in (and out of) work.

But what does that mean for DEI in the workplace?

According to a recent report by Workhuman, “2023 will begin with a test of organizational commitment to the day-to-day work of inclusivity, equity, and diversity.”  According to Dr. Meisha-Ann Martin, Senior Director of Research and People Analytics at Workhuman, leaders are often tempted to cut certain priorities in the face of a looming recession – and DEI may be one of those.

And, apparently, Workhuman isn’t alone in this prediction.

According to the 2023 Monster Work Watch Report, 11 percent of employers say that DEI programs are “among the first to go when they are forced to cut costs,” coming in third behind organizational events and bonuses. Additionally, only 5 percent of recruiters say that DEI efforts are among their top three priorities.

GEM Recruiting AI

So, where does this leave us as we move forward in 2023?

Embracing Organizational Transparency Will Be Key to Attracting and Retaining Diverse Employees

According to Workhuman’s January 2023 index, employees are questioning their leaders’ commitment to DEI.

For example, the index showed that:

  • 17.1 percent of respondents are concerned about their future at their employer because of the lack of diverse leadership and voices.
  • 21.1 percent of respondents are “questioning the intentions” of their leaders around social justice issues.
  • 32.8 percent of respondents claimed they would consider leaving their employer if their DEI strategy doesn’t improve within the first six months of 2023, with employees of color reporting the highest percentages.

These results should not be taken lightly. Clearly, employers need to re-think their communication and branding strategies around DEI as we head into the second month of 2023.

If employers want to distinguish themselves when recruiting and retaining employees, they should focus on transparency around diversity at all levels of the organization – from eliminating unconscious biases in the hiring process to (truly) supporting employee resource groups – and everything in between.

In other words, they must show their true commitment to maintaining a diverse and equitable workforce at every point of the employee journey. Here are three ways employers can demonstrate transparency in the workplace in 2023.

3 Ways Employers Can Demonstrate Transparency in the Workplace

  • Prioritize Open Communication:  For DEI initiatives to be effective, organizations must foster a supportive (and accepting) environment for open communication.  This will not only result in honest conversations around DEI, but it will also build trust between employers and employees.
  • Increase Your Diversity Hiring: Employers should continue to increase diversity in their talent pools. The more diverse candidates are, the more a company will realize increased creativity, innovation, and profits – helping to stave off economic uncertainty.
  • Don’t Just Know the Numbers; Incorporate Data Into Your DEI Strategy: Understanding industry and company data is one thing.  Incorporating it into a company’s DEI strategy and holding them accountable to their goals is another.  And with the need for additional transparency, companies can use this data to build a “DEI strategy scoreboard,” helping to build visibility.

In 2023, employers must continue to prioritize DEI with visible action and accountable transparency. Doing so can help employers deliver positive outcomes in recruitment, retention, and promoting talent in what looks to be a challenging economic landscape.