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Belonging and Inclusion today: the importance of DEI and talent integration 

Belonging and Inclusion today: the importance of DEI and talent integration 

This blog is part of a series of blogs ‘Momentive’s continued dedication to DEI and social impact’ that centers around the principles of DEI and Social Impact, our learnings as a company, as well as the tools and templates to help you Ask, Listen and Act when it comes to DEI and Social Impact.  

While human capital management continues to evolve, one area that is emerging as a key factor in finding, acquiring, and keeping today’s talent is an approach that embeds diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) every step of the way. Research tells us that nearly 80% of employees say it’s important to work for an organization that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. A different Momentive survey of over 2,000 human resources professionals from different industries found that 87%¹ said that their companies had made DEI commitments in the past year and a half—but that only 20% were confident they would meet those goals. 

So, what does it take to develop and deliver DEI commitments that are embedded in an organization’s talent development strategy? 

The businesses coming out on top are the ones willing to embed systematic change throughout their approach to talent development and employee experience. According to McKinsey’s Diversity wins: How inclusion matters report, “diversity winners” are adopting systematic, business-led approaches to inclusion and diversity (I&D). They are looking beyond hiring and onboarding to apply a DEI lens to all of the systems and processes that support employee growth. They are creating fair, equitable, and transparent talent processes and practices from hiring to succession planning, pay equity, promotions, manager training, and leadership development. 

At Momentive, our approach to DEI and talent development centers around our vision to broaden the world’s perspective by amplifying individual voices. We are looking through an intersectional lens to amplify employee voices and identify an approach to talent development that considers the many unique aspects of a person’s identity and experience. 

Where should a company start? How can companies truly embed DEI within their talent strategy and what can they expect when they do? With our mission to create the tech industry’s most inclusive culture, we’ve been learning how to do that in the best way we know how: asking the people, listening, and taking action

Ask: look internally to understand employee sentiments behind your data. 

First, define diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for your business. Then, ask all of the people the tough questions to understand where you stand. Use these insights to develop new programs and continue to ask the same hard questions to continuously measure if they are working. 

Late last year we conducted our own Workplace Equity IQ DEI audit that showed many strengths: 96% of our employees agree that Momentive is a better place to work than other companies and 97% of Momentive employees agree that DEI is important to our leadership team. We also learned that 22% of employees did not agree with the statement that promotions are based on skills, rather than status or power and that despite strong culture scores, 22% still said that they felt the need to hide some aspect of themselves in order to “fit in.” 

This spring, we developed and delivered a workshop series called Creating Inclusive Environments for our sales managers and leaders with the goal of establishing a baseline understanding and awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion, managing with an equity and inclusion lens, and gaining practical techniques to leverage with teams. Leaders emerged from this training more confident in engaging with their teams on important DEI topics and felt equipped to apply their learnings to creating a more inclusive team environment. Prior to the training 52% of participants shared that they were comfortable engaging in DEI work with their teams. After the training, this increased to 95%. 

Listen: employees are more engaged and vocal; there are passionate stakeholders at all levels willing to move work forward. 

Companies should start by listening to their employees, especially employees who are historically underrepresented. Human sentiment is an elusive metric to capture, but invaluable once you have it. At Momentive, we engage hundreds of employees in this work in partnership with our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Diversity, Inclusion, Impact Groups (DIIGs). We have also relied on Momentive’s Social Impact Advisory Council which includes members of our c-suite, managers, and individual contributors, to help us drive important work forward and amplify employee voices. This year, Momentive Together (Momentive’s DEI and Social Impact strategy team) consulted The Queerious (Momentive’s LGBTQIA+ employee resource group), People Operations, Legal Privacy, and the Social Impact Advisory Council to determine reporting and methodology to expand our internal data collection to capture more inclusive gender representation of our internal workforce. 

DEI and talent development practices are continuously evolving. It’s important to stay attuned to new approaches of leaders, the research of experts, and trends among peers, which can help inform where and how to most effectively embed DEI into your talent strategy. Our LeanIn.Org poll surveyed over 6,660 people and showed a racial gap in upskilling: white men and women both (33% and 30%) are far more likely than Black women (19%) to have ever had job or executive leadership training. This also showed up when asked about mentorship. While 31% of white men and 27% of white women have had a mentor or sponsor at some point in their career, barely two in 10 Black women have had an advocate/role model like this in their professional lives. Separately, our DEI disconnect research showed that while almost 80% of leaders thought their diverse employees have “professional allies,” only 61% of Latinx, 63% of Black, and 62% of multi-racial employees agreed.

We partner with The Leadership Consortium and Advancing Women Executives to deliver high-quality leadership development training to diverse cohorts of leaders. This spring, 76% of participants said that they believe they are part of Momentive’s leadership bench. With that being a good starting point with room for improvement, we’re exploring ways to leverage program alumni as “brain trusts” in tackling leadership challenges in an effort to give these leaders more exposure, alongside practical experience. 

Act: DEI work requires taking action. 

Use one of our survey templates to capture employee voices: gender in the workplace (developed in partnership with LeanIn.org), employee diversity, belonging and inclusion (developed in partnership with Paradigm) or employee engagement. Use the data to better define belonging and inclusion for your unique business, understand company barriers to equity and advancement, assess how equitable your talent processes are, and to establish the goals and accountability needed to bring about real change. 

At Momentive, these insights have brought together our Diversity & Social Impact and Learning & Talent Development functions to provide leadership development opportunities for underrepresented groups, intentionally growing and investing in a bench of talented and diverse leaders. Our Chief Diversity and Social Impact Officer works with every organizational leader to develop individual and team-level goals focused on DEI. We continue to embed questions related to inclusion within our performance assessment. 

And…there’s a lot more we can do to be “diversity winners.” So, we’ll continue to ask our people, listen, and take action in both big and small ways to meet our goal of being the most inclusive culture in the tech industry.  

Truly embedding DEI practice into talent development efforts takes collective energy, requires radical honesty, deep listening, and a lot of trust. And, this effort is increasingly important to employee experience, growth, and retention. Today, the companies that stand out are doing deep, systems-level work to create real and tangible change. And they’re doing that by asking their people, listening, and taking action. 

¹Methodology: From a survey of 2,400 HR professionals at the Equity at Work conference, hosted by Momentive on November 3, 2021.

Check out the introduction to this blog series here and our post about designing and running a corporate volunteering program here.