The Biggest DEI Challenges Companies Face

26th Jul 2023

More and more companies are realising how crucial it is to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion as an integral part of their success. 

However, making real progress in these areas is no walk in the park. Companies have to tackle a number of hurdles on their DEI journey, from ensuring diverse representation, dismantling unconscious biases, creating an inclusive culture, and addressing pay equity. 

And that's not all—recruitment and hiring practices, keeping diverse talent on board and helping them grow, and educating employees on the importance of DEI are some of the other major challenges companies face. 

But it’s absolutely necessary to acknowledge these challenges in order to overcome them and become a truly diverse, fair, and welcoming workplace.
So, what are the biggest DEI challenges companies face, and how can they be addressed? Let's find out.

1) Lack of representation

Achieving genuine diversity and representation is a significant challenge for many companies out there. Sadly, this struggle often extends to all levels, particularly when it comes to securing diverse talent in leadership positions. 

This underrepresentation creates a major roadblock, as it deprives companies of a wealth of diverse perspectives and hampers their ability to be inclusive. To truly thrive, companies must prioritise expanding their talent pool to include individuals from all kinds of diverse backgrounds.

With Flexa, you can make significant strides in achieving diversity and inclusion. Hydrogen Group, for example, have witnessed remarkable results, with 76.4% of applicants in their hiring pipeline being women. And Amplifi have seen a 65% increase in diverse talent.

2) Intersectionality

Companies aiming to promote inclusivity must go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. It's important to recognise different individuals face unique challenges due to the intersections of their identities. For example, a woman of colour may face different obstacles and biases compared to a white woman or a man of colour. 

Taking intersections into consideration allows companies to ensure that their DEI initiatives are inclusive and tailored to address the specific challenges faced by individuals from diverse backgrounds.

3) Unconscious bias

Unconscious biases are often deep-rooted stereotypes or prejudices that influence how we understand things, how we act, and even the decisions we make. The tricky part is, most of the time, we're unaware of them. However, through unconscious bias training, individuals can develop the necessary tools to recognise and challenge these biases.

Getting rid of these biases takes conscious effort but is absolutely crucial if you want to create a more inclusive environment that attracts, retains and engages talent. 

4) Pay equity

Pay disparities based on gender, age, race or other factors not to do with performance are still very much alive, and they undermine the principle of equity in the workplace. 

Identifying and tackling these imbalances is a complex task that requires careful analysis and proactive measures. It's not just about the numbers on the payslip; it's about rectifying the systemic biases and discriminatory practices that lead to unequal compensation. 

With Figures you can instantly compare your compensation policy against your competition to:

💸 Analyse who may be at risk of leaving due to salary

👨🏽👩🏻 Level up your audit of salary equity between men and women

📈Base your decisions on data updated in real-time

🗒️Create an overview of your compensation policy

The goal is to create an environment where individuals are recognised and rewarded based on their skills, experience, and contributions rather than being held back by arbitrary factors. 

5) Recruitment and hiring practices

Companies often come across obstacles when it comes to creating a fair and inclusive hiring process. 

The first hurdle is attracting and accessing diverse talent pools. Companies need to cast a wider net and actively seek out individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Putting work into your Employer Brand can help here.

Another challenge is mitigating bias in the selection process. Human beings are prone to unconscious biases, and these biases can seep into the decision-making process, even unintentionally.

Implementing strategies such as structured interviews, blind CV screening, and diverse interview panels can minimise bias to focus on skills and qualifications. 

6) Retention and advancement

Achieving diversity in the hiring process alone doesn’t cut it; companies must also prioritise the retention and advancement of underrepresented talent. 

Unfortunately, employees from underrepresented groups often face challenges when it comes to career progression. These barriers can stem from unconscious biases, limited access to mentorship, or exclusion from important networks and decision-making circles. 

Consequently, it leads to feeling of being undervalued or neglected, resulting in higher turnover rates and a loss of diverse perspectives within the company. 

To combat this, it becomes crucial for companies to implement transparent career paths that offer equal opportunities for growth and development.

7) Lack of employee awareness and education

To truly create an inclusive culture, training and awareness programs should be provided to employees to expand their understanding of the challenges around DEI.

This may take the form of workshops, online courses, or interactive discussions. It's important to tailor these to the specific needs and dynamics of your company, making sure they are engaging, relatable, and impactful. 

It should never be about ticking a box or going through a one-time workshop; it requires a continuous effort to promote ongoing learning and development to help employees recognise the value of diverse perspectives, challenge their own biases, and develop a greater appreciation for inclusivity. 
Acknowledging and proactively addressing these DEI challenges will allow companies to create workplaces that are more inclusive and equitable, where all employees are able to thrive and reach their full potential. These challenges should not be seen as unmovable barriers, but rather opportunities for growth and positive transformation.