Useful Ways To Make DE&I Efforts More Purposeful

Many companies, including plumbing manufacturers, are looking for ways to build on their diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts – to make them more intentional. Competition for talent, demands for transparency from investors and consumers, and growing social justice movements have created an urgency for deeper DE&I gains.

Achieving lasting change requires setting measurable diversity goals, creating action plans to achieve those goals, and communicating openly about progress to boost accountability and trust, experts have reported.

Companies spent an estimated $7.5 billion worldwide in 2020 on DE&I activities and are projected to more than double spending to $15.4 billion by 2026, according to a January 2023 World Economic Forum/McKinsey & Company report on DE&I.

Plumbing Manufacturers International has been accelerating DE&I engagement both within the association and to help support PMI members’ goals. Efforts have included forming a PMI Board of Directors DE&I subcommittee, presenting a workshop on inclusion and belonging, reporting on members’ progress in the PMI annual report and on PMI social media platforms, and hosting PMI Manufacturing Success Conference presentations on implementing inclusive workplace policies.

It’s clear that businesses see the value of DE&I to create an inclusive workplace that helps drive innovation and growth. However, some struggle with decisions on where best to invest their DE&I resources.

Embed DE&I into every fiber of your company

Companies with the most DE&I progress embed their efforts into every fiber of the workplace, instead of treating it as an independent program. They create a unified DE&I strategy and invest in resources to support it, a recent Forbes article reported.

While every organization has different needs, experts suggest that a strong DE&I strategy should involve senior leaders and contain basic elements, such as key performance indicators (KPIs), an action plan to define expectations, tools to track progress, and well-defined responsibilities.

DE&I strategies need to consider how to attract and hire job candidates and how to evaluate and reward workers, according to a Paradigm blog article. KPIs can help by using data that track hiring, retaining and advancing diverse employees, or by analyzing metrics from surveys and focus groups about job satisfaction and workplace culture, the Forbes article noted.

PMI member LIXIL Corporation has been building on its D&I journey since 2018. Through its universal design (UD) products and services, LIXIL aims to improve quality of life for all, irrespective of their age, gender or level of disability. The company seeks to embed a culture of inclusion in the workforce and to achieve gender equity by 2030. Specifically, the company intends to achieve an even split of female and male board and executive officers and 30% female managers across the regions. LIXIL’s Global D&I Department and D&I Committee, consisting of global leaders, develop and track common global measures for promoting D&I within the company. LIXIL conducts a D&I survey of all employees and uses the results to gain a clear grasp of the current situation and to update its D&I strategy.

Monitoring overall productivity as a KPI can help companies determine if DE&I supports bottom-line growth. Increased employee performance has been linked to DE&I. Companies that boost diversity in upper management by as little as 1% can achieve up to $1,600 of additional profits annually per worker, reported CEO World Magazine.

PMI member Zurn Elkay Water Solutions’ website pages on sustainability and people outline how the company uses an Associate Inclusion Index to track progress on its engagement with employees. The index measures the average positive responses to the following statements: I feel as if I belong on my team; I receive appropriate recognition when I do a good job; and I am comfortable voicing my ideas and opinions, even if they are different than others. Zurn Elkay’s goal is to maintain a score above the industry average of 70% affirmative responses. The most recent company score totaled 83%.

Transparency encourages accountability and action

One of the best ways companies can prove their actions match their policies is by publishing DE&I goals and progress and communicating regularly with employees, customers and shareholders. Transparency encourages accountability and honest conversations.

Company leaders can communicate DE&I progress in regular team meetings and employee resource groups (ERGs), as well as using internal newsletters and other communications, reported a recent Fast Company article.

Zurn Elkay and LIXIL have each established several ERGs. LIXIL’s groups focus on issues concerning working parents and caregivers, the LGBTQ+ community, employees with seen and unseen disabilities, multi-culturalism, and working better together. Zurn Elkay’s ERGs cover activities and issues for women, the LatinX community, Black employees, Asian/Pacific Islander workers, those early in their careers, and LGBTQ+ employees.

Sharing diversity metrics can help companies stay true to their DE&I goals and help managers better understand those goals. Building a DE&I strategy scoreboard with key metrics can help leaders stay on track and more easily communicate to employees and shareholders how they’re meeting goals, reported a recent Fast Company article.

Increasing demand for fair pay standards has motivated some companies to communicate their pay equity policies and even earn third-party certifications. Organizations such as Fair Pay Workplace can conduct a vigorous pay equity analysis and offer companies an action plan to follow, according to Syndio’s 2023 Workplace Equity Trends Report.