Companies need to recognize women promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Women leaders do more for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at work than their counterparts who are men. They have a better understanding of how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but a new report from McKinsey and notes that they aren't receiving recognition for it.  

Their annual Women in the Workplace report is the largest study on the state of women in corporate America. This year's report found that companies are lacking in their recognition of the work women leaders are doing to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace—and it's costing them strong talent. For companies looking into how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the report shows some stark challenges.  

Women are investing more in DEI efforts—and not receiving recognition  

The report found that compared to men at the same level, women leaders are investing more time and energy in effective people management, allyship, and DEI.  In addition, young women play a crucial role in building diverse and inclusive teams. They are more likely than older women to be women of color and identify as LGBTQ+. They are also more likely than both older employees and men in their age group to actively practice allyship at work. Their DEI efforts are crucial to the future of many companies, especially companies that are looking further into the benefits of those diversity initiatives. 

Unfortunately, all this work is, for the most part, going unrecognized. The report found that women leaders are twice as likely as their men counterparts to contribute considerable time to DEI efforts, yet 40% of them say this work isn't acknowledged anywhere in their performance reviews. This leads to several problems for women who are leading the quest for greater workplace DEI, instituting DEI training, and speaking out about the importance of diversity training in the workplace. 

  • Women may experience greater levels of burnout. As many as 43% of female leaders report burnout, compared to 31% of men at their level of leadership.  
  • Women may miss out on raise and promotion opportunities because of their DEI initiatives and efforts, since they are not doing work that is recognized on those performance reviews. 
  • Many women may give up on their DEI efforts and simply coast along or focus on their own efforts, rather than allowing the company to reap the benefits of diversity and inclusion training. 

Ultimately, this failure to recognize the effort put forth by those women can be incredibly damaging to their careers and the future of the company.   

Lack of DEI commitment from managers and leaders closes the door for women  

The report noted that few companies currently recognize people management and DEI efforts in managers' performance reviews, effectively treating this work as a nice-to-have—as opposed to a core part of a manager's job.  Companies who fail to acknowledge these trends in DEI and take action are at risk of losing the women leaders in their organizations. Not only are women more likely to leave organizations altogether when they do not feel recognized and supported, they may step away from their DEI efforts, leaving the company without some of its most vital supports in those arenas. 

  • Managers are less likely to insist on respectful behavior or encourage acceptance of diversity in the workplace. Only about half of women say that their manager regularly encourages respectful behavior from their team members, which means that negative behaviors may continue in the workplace.  
  • Failing to recognize women's contributions to DEI in the workplace can shut the door to the next generation of women leaders, for whom an inclusive workplace is a priority. Women leaders are more than 1.5 times as likely as men to have left a previous job because they wanted to work somewhere with a greater commitment to DEI, the report found.  
  • Companies that do not have diversity initiatives in place will fail to experience the benefits of diversity and inclusion training, including increased creativity and innovation, better overall productivity, and a key place in the market.  

Over time, the lack of implementation for key diversity initiatives has the potential to slow down business productivity and decrease the business's place in the market.  

How companies can better recognize women leaders and promote diversity and inclusion at work  

Fixing these issues could aid retention of women leaders at work at a time when companies are losing them at an unprecedented rate.  McKinsey and offer several important suggestions for improving diversity and inclusion and reaping the benefits of diversity and inclusion training across the workplace. 

  • Include metrics for people management and DEI work in performance reviews. Let women know that the work they are doing is important and appreciated, and that the company supports their efforts.  
  • Initiate diversity and inclusion training in the workplace. Make sure you have clear protocols in place and that employees understand what is expected of them.  
  • Recognize what women are accomplishing around diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Pay attention to how those efforts are changing the face of work across your company and your company's overall productivity, and recognize the contributions women have made to this programs and initiatives.  

By recognizing the efforts of women when it comes to diversity and inclusion, many companies find that they can improve retention for female leaders and maintain better diversity across the organization.  

The key takeaway  

To build a culture that promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace and recognizes the contributions of its women leaders, corporate training must change employees' behavior. This type of learning is an ongoing process, and to sustain lasting change, DEI strategies must include constant reinforcement.  LRN's three-year DEI curriculum includes four learning stages per year, with each stage consisting of three to five learning components that showcase the benefits of diversity and inclusion training. Download a copy today for step-by-step guidance on integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout—and beyond—your corporate training.