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How payroll operations support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Building DE&I initiatives with the support of payroll processes and human resources teams

What is diversity & inclusion in the workplace?

A strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan is essential for workplaces that seek to prioritize creating a work environment where all talents, skills, perspectives, backgrounds, identities, and experiences are welcomed. Equity and inclusion programs started in the United States with workplace diversity training in the 1960s. Many of these programs came into existence following provisions with equal employment laws and affirmative action.

However, changes in the workplace regarding racial discrimination or other types of marginalization have not changed substantially. As such, corporate DEI strategies and teams have developed to promote more inclusive and welcoming working environments for people of all backgrounds. Jobs related to building inclusive cultures, promoting diverse teams, and creating strategic partnerships for DEI goals have skyrocketed. Between May and September of 2020, DEI-related jobs rose by 123%, showcasing the shifting priorities of businesses of all sizes.

DEI in the workplace can include changes in policies and practices, developing staff training or webinars related to DE&I goals, recruiting diverse talent while working to build retention of a diverse team, and advocating for social justice concerns in the broader community. Diversity in the workplace can profoundly  impact your organization; when looking at companies that remained in operation following the 2008 economic crisis, many of the most diverse companies were able to make it through, largely due to the value of innovation within the team.

What is the role of payroll professionals?

While DE&I efforts have historically been left to broader human resources teams, payroll professionals can also have an important role in developing an inclusive workplace. Specifically, payroll professionals can help the business  ensure equal pay, offer incentives for all employee levels and types from data-driven metrics, oversee talent management, and contribute broadly to the company's organizational culture. These efforts are particularly salient in increasing the representation of people of color, different ages, diverse sexual orientations within the LGBTQ+ community, and gender diversity for various positions on a team.

This article will review general strategies that can be a part of the social bottom line to increase representation and promote a more equitable working environment. These practices are outlined with payroll teams and payroll operations in mind.

How to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

  • Be aware of unconscious bias. Unconscious bias happens when employees hold attitudes, ideas, or thoughts that they are unaware of consciously. At times, these unexplored attitudes can result in discrimination in the workplace. Payroll teams can take bias training, especially with the responsibility of compensation in their role. Employers can also encourage employees to monitor their personal biases and observe when they might be coming up in a professional setting.
  • Promote pay equity. Shifting gaps in compensation is one of the most important ways that payroll operations can support broader DEI efforts.  Leveraging technology to help gather relevant data, payroll teams can help analyze gaps in compensation and salary structures, especially with different factors like gender, ethnicity, age, and disability status. In addition to tracking data, payroll teams can support restructuring compensation structures, starting pay, and how benefits or incentives are offered for all employees, regardless of identity. Moreover, building transparency with these policies will help support the company's accountability to follow them.
  • Create and implement a strategic training program. From the start of employment, every employee should receive diversity training that helps provide education on cultural differences and how this can impact the overall workplace environment. Supporting employees to understand why the training is occurring is essential in ensuring its effectiveness.  Communication styles, conflict resolution, and workplace expectations can be crucial topics to address.
  • Honor and recognize holidays of all cultures. People of all backgrounds may celebrate different holidays that will require workplace flexibility. In addition to offering time off during these times, DEI strategies often promote education around holidays so that everyone on the team can learn more about the cultural context of their colleagues. Employees that celebrate specific holidays can feel a sense of cultural pride and value at their workplace.
  • Offer employee resource groups. Employee resource groups are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences. This is a great way for employees to build connections in the workplace and positively contribute to individual career development.
  • Name and gender inclusion. Payroll has an important role in ensuring that employee information reflects the data reported by the employee, including name and gender identity. Should an employee select their pronouns, it is important that payroll make these visible for other people to see and follow. This will help employees feel respected and represented. Some workplaces may extend pronouns to be used on name tags, for example.
  • Facilitate ongoing feedback. To get employee buy-in for a more inclusive workplace, it is important to make sure you understand initiatives that are going well and potential areas for improvement. One way to assess this is through anonymous employee feedback through surveys. This way, employees have a place to report experiences of inequity that can help your company mitigate and prevent in the future.
  • Assess company policies. Regularly reviewing company policies is pivotal to ensuring  that DE&I programs are supported through company procedures. If a company has older processes, these can be replaced with procedures that make sense for the current team, company, and vision for the future while ensuring that the workplace is safe and minimizing occurrences of microaggressions or discrimination.
  • Employee self-service. The most important way to build an inclusive workplace is consistent communication and follow-through. Businesses must have the correct employee information to make this happen. With a self-service option for employee portals, you can have more accurate and timely payroll data that will align well with other company initiatives. Moreover, a self-service portal allows employees to connect with other employees that may have other shared life experiences or identities.
  • Language access. With payroll providing extensive documentation with pay stubs, compensation statements, and other company-related information, this information should be provided to employees with the language of their choosing. This supports accessibility and belonging through digital means. Looking at HR technology options with multiple language interfaces may be a consideration if you have employees who speak languages other than English.
  • Digital accessibility. If you have employees that have visual or hearing impairments, your team may consider utilizing HR technology that has accessibility features. Some of these features include voice response or screen reading support. This feature can go a long way in helping all employees access the most important information, particularly related to pay, salary, and compensation.
  • Track progress over periods of time. Using technology to help capture data related to diversity, inclusion, and equity, payroll teams can help assess what areas of DEI are working and what other gaps may exist. The ability to measure progress allows DEI to continue to be a priority for all parts of the organization, from the associate level to senior leadership.

Taking an active role

Payroll teams play a key role in DEI&B planning, implementation, and success. In playing an active role, payroll professionals can consider the above strategies as a starting point for creating an equitable workplace where people of all backgrounds are welcomed. With strategies, technology, and a commitment to equity, payroll teams can change the culture of any organization for good.

Next steps

Are you ready to explore ways to promote DE&I strategy at your workplace? Are you seeking ways to encourage your payroll team to support diversity, equity, and inclusion goals?

Heartland is ready to help.

Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at heartland.us