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The public sector needs to continue to lead by example when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion

According to Ceridian's Pulse of Talent report, just 49% percent say their employers have DE&I strategies

As I touched on in my previous articles for TechWire, working in the public sector has many benefits from a work-life perspective – particularly, the steady hours and competitive benefits and pay. The benefits are plentiful, including the unique sense of purpose that comes with a job that aims to help the greater good.

However, many facets of the public sector workforce need to be refreshed, revamped, and reinvigorated. Specifically, public sector organizations, along with companies across all sectors, need to sharpen their focus on meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, programs, and most importantly – behaviors.

We all know that there are many business and fiscal benefits from embracing DE&I in the workforce – namely, the wealth of knowledge you get from different lived experiences. However, the business argument for fostering a diverse workforce cannot be the main catalyst to make meaningful changes to outdated (or non-existent) DE&I practices.

There is a moral obligation to build workforce cultures that are based in equity, inclusion, and belonging – it's simply the right thing to do. And yet, many organizations are not rising to the occasion. Of those that are, while their intentions are in the right place, they are missing the mark from an employee point of view. According to Ceridian’s Pulse of Talent survey of almost 7,000 workers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and four other countries, just 49 percent of employees say their companies have (and communicate) DE&I improvement strategies – that is simply not enough. Along with that, about 20 percent of workers polled globally say their companies lack strategies to boost DE&I, and 31 percent don’t know if their companies have them.

So, how can public sector organizations lead by example when it comes to establishing, improving, and championing DE&I practices? Let’s unpack a few strategies.

Establish a culture of DE&I from the top

All organizations today should embed DE&I practices in everything they do. And – this is even more critical in public sector organizations, as they often represent the public’s needs. What are some steps public sector and government leaders can take to have a truly inclusive and engaged culture?

Start with employee resource groups, ensuring minorities and individuals from diverse backgrounds feel represented - through real representation. Offer a larger variety of benefits, catering to folks of all ages and walks of life. And, importantly, improve and increase representation across hiring practices. We all know it’s important to lead by example, therefore by building a diverse leadership roster, you will be setting a precedent that everyone at your organization can – and should – reach for the top.

To see success in any DE&I practices, leadership should actively and often voice their support for all DE&I initiatives. This helps to create runway for employees to drive efforts forward on the front lines.

Leverage data to find more opportunities for equity

Needless to say, when something needs to be implemented or improved within your organization, you need a deeper understanding of where you currently sit regarding the task at hand. This is particularly relevant when it comes to updating and/or improving DE&I practices and creating opportunity for equity. Gather both qualitative and quantitative data from your employees – what do they need to thrive? What DE&I discrepancies do they notice? Use the gathered data to analyze your current policies and processes and see how you can enhance best practices for equity. 

Use the gathered data to make meaningful changes toward equity.

Always be proactive about inclusion

There’s no denying it – biases in the workplace exist, even in the public sector What matters is how we address them. It’s important to acknowledge biases and then change your behavior and encourage others to do the same. Leaders, and specifically people managers within the public sector, play a huge role here Being more inclusive starts by recognizing biases that work against inclusion.  Proactively identify common moments of bias within your organization, and work to rectify them. This starts from the recruiting process and lasts until an employee’s last day at an organization.

As a manager within the public sector, make it be known that everyone on your team has equal opportunities to be heard, encourage everyone to speak up, and give everyone opportunities to succeed and be elevated.

The world of work will thrive when organizations across all sectors embrace, champion, and elevate every employee. As representatives of the greater good, the public sector needs to lead by example.

Gianluca Cairo is Industry Principal, Public Sector at Ceridian, a global human capital management software company. 

Ceridian HCM Holding Inc. is a global human capital management software company. Dayforce, our flagship cloud HCM platform, provides human resources, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management functionality.