With the landscape around diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEI&A) continuing to evolve, employers need to be aware of what their responsibilities are for ensuring a safe, discrimination-free work environment for their staff.

Before diving into the different nuances regarding the growing legislation driving employers to foster equitable work environments, it would be best to first define DEI&A in the workplace. 

Diversity: HR Technologist defines diversity as “the acceptance and embracement of coworkers with differences in education, personality, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases.” The key difference between this definition and the traditional description is that culture and knowledge are incorporated.

Equity: Equity in the workplace refers to the act of making the workplace fair, both in terms of compensation and career advancement opportunities. When referring to fair compensation, the term “pay equity” is used, which is defined as “an umbrella term that includes issues related to the fairness of compensation paid by employers to their employees for performing comparable work, without regard to gender or race or other categories protected by law (such as national origin or sexual orientation).”

Inclusion: Inclusion is the component that focuses on respecting individuals for who they are, regardless of their gender, race, disabilities, age, or any other factor that could be viewed as a means of discrimination. What that looks like for employers is ensuring that your employees feel welcome and appreciated, no matter what their background is.

Access: A term used for describing both physical and nonphysical barriers that employees may experience as they participate in workplace events and career opportunities. Facilitating a workplace that promotes access is one that ensures that each employee does not face hindrances in their paths forward. 

Together, diversity, equity, inclusion, and access work to foster a workplace culture that is rid of discrimination. In the past couple of years, social movements have made a significant impact on the conversation around DEI and states and federal governments all over the globe are passing legislation to ensure workplace disparities come to an end.

California, for instance, has enacted pay data reporting as a part of it’s equal pay act. The legislation known as SB 973, requires employers with 100 or more employees that are federally required to file an annual EEO-1 report, to file annual pay and hours worked data for their employees with the state. As a reminder to employers of California, the reporting deadline for the 2020 tax year is March 31.

The state also expanded upon its Family Rights Act (SB 1383) which as of January 2021, requires employers with five or more employees to offer employees up to three months of unpaid job-protected leave to care for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition.

On a larger scale, Nasdaq, Inc. is “pushing to require the thousands of companies listed on its stock exchange to include women, racial minorities, and LGBT individuals on their boards,” according to a post by the Wall Street Journal. Currently, less than 25% of the roughly 3,200 employers listed on the Nasdaq don’t meet the requirements. Companies that fail to comply could ultimately be delisted from the Nasdaq.

It is clear then, institutional changes are coming to fruition to ensure DEI is achieved in the workplace, but what does that look like for employers? It is a complex landscape that boils down making good use of your workforce data.

The first step employers must take to create a more fair and inclusive workplace is to understand their workforce data. Undergoing a Pay Gap Risk Assessment can help your business identify any potential pay gaps between employee groups. 

From there, employers can see where their organization stands and take next steps to conduct an internal audit of their pay practices. But in truth, a pay equity audit is the tip of the iceberg for employees looking to promote a more fair workplace. In order to achieve real, authentic change, organizations should look to track, measure, and set goals with their workforce data. Equity in the workplace is not achieved overnight, it is an ongoing effort employers should consider outsourcing to ensure it’s done correctly.

With the legislation continuing to evolve around creating a DEI culture, and discussions leveraging SASB to develop and implement standards from an accounting perspective that quantify environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, employers need to think about what steps they are taking to meet the demand for DEI&A in the workplace.

There are a number of things employers can do to bolster their DEI&A efforts, but the easiest step forward is to understand what your company is currently doing so that it can create a thoughtful plan of action moving forward. Contact us to learn how a pay gap analysis can help meet your goals of fostering a fairer workplace.