By Dr. Michael Hamby, CEO, Claims Eval
By now, most people have heard the term “DEI” being over utilized by businesses and organizations. But diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than the latest HR trend or industry buzzword. They’re values that, if integrated into your business, have the potential to increase your talent acquisition and retention, employee engagement, and company revenue as a result. Not to mention, focusing on DEI is an important moral undertaking.
“For too many organizations, DEI ends up a mere scaffold that does little to bring about actual, substantive change. And scaffolds are additive, instead of becoming integral parts of the existing organizational structure.” – Harvard Business Review
Many people and organizations in our industry outwardly tout DEI “commitments” but many of these companies’ DEI platforms are performative. In this two-part series, we’ll explore how businesses within the insurance and workers’ comp industries can move from performative to sustainable and impactful DEI initiatives. This series will first look at how to hone DEI efforts internally within your company. Part two will cover how businesses can evaluate their external partnerships in order to further embrace these core values.
Before diving into how to implement DEI strategies successfully, it’s important to recognize how many misconceptions pop up when people talk about these concepts. This can look like resistance to talking about DEI or excessive reassurance that there’s “no issue”. In order to combat internal biases (and we all have them) it’s helpful to have working definitions of these terms and understand that there is no way to “do” DEI perfectly. Committing to these values, or any values for that matter, should be a continuous process of learning, reflection, and practice towards betterment. It is absolutely better to try and fall short than to avoid the issue altogether.
McKinsey offers some great definitions for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In an article about DEI, McKinsey writes that diversity “refers to who is represented in the workforce”. Diversity can mean everything from gender diversity, age diversity, and ethnic diversity to diversity among people with varying physical abilities, and neurodiversity. Diversity should be less about checking boxes and more about having a workforce that is representative of the world we live in—with a range of ages, races, genders, sexualities, and more.
Around equity, there is some understandable confusion. First off, equity is different from equality. “While equality assumes that all people should be treated the same, equity takes into consideration a person’s unique circumstances, adjusting treatment accordingly so that the end result is equal.” Variances in work experience coming out of college is a great example for understanding equity. Take a student who comes from an affluent background and was able to accept an unpaid internship over the summer because their family could help them cover expenses while they gained valuable experience. Because of this experience, they enter the workforce with a leg up on someone who wasn’t able to accept the same internship because of financial reasons. The second applicant might just need some more time and training with an experienced employee to acquire the same level of industry knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be any less of a valuable employee. They might even bring perspective that other applicants don’t have.
Finally, inclusion refers to how much an employee feels embraced by the organization. Are their opinions given equal weight regardless of where they come from and what they look like? Are they enabled to make meaningful contributions to the company? Inclusion also means including people socially in the workplace. Not everyone participates in the same social cultures. Take the time to get to know coworkers outside of your immediate circle and ask what they like to do or where they like to eat. Next time you invite people out after work, include them and try to take into account this information. It will go a long way in their sense of belonging at work.
“Nearly 40 percent of respondents say they have turned down or chosen not to pursue a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at the organization.” — McKinsey
The lack of a diverse and inclusive culture is hurting businesses’ ability to acquire top talent. Especially with the younger generations entering the workforce, the value systems of our organizations must keep up with the times or they’ll struggle to find continued growth amidst the shifting landscape.
Performative vs. Sustainable DEI Initiatives
Because of the buzz DEI has received over the last few years, most businesses and industries understand it’s at least something they need to be aware of. Unfortunately, the lack of true understanding and unchecked biases around DEI measures means that most companies end up putting forth a statement of support without a robust and intentional plan to deliver on those words. With DEI, the adage of “actions speak louder than words” rings true. Without actions, fluffy DEI statements are nothing more than lip service and could actually damage your businesses’ image.
Instead, get a plan in place for understanding which DEI initiatives ring true to your business. Then start with small, measurable goals. An article Harvard Business Review published this year states that “organizations that seek to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion as measurable outcomes know the importance of metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in their efforts.” KPIs are helpful tools because they give organizations a way to measure progress towards their DEI goals and identify areas for growth or reorganization. Tracking these metrics is also an important factor in transparency and accountability.
Potential KPI Metrics to Track:
- Recruitment and hiring demographics — track self-disclosed age, race, gender, sexuality, etc. for applicant pool and new hires
- Role advancement — trends within the organization around who is being promoted
- Compensation across demographics
- Leadership breakdown — Demographic breakdown of board, C-suite, and management level
- Supplier DEI commitments
Accountability and transparency are the key differentiators between organizations that are performative in their DEI initiatives versus organizations that make DEI an integral part of their structure. Choosing actionable and measurable DEI goals allows organizations to share progress and growth areas both internally and publicly. There is a misconception that sharing growth areas will make an organization look bad when, in reality, people appreciate honesty and actively support organizations and other people who are willing to reflect, change, and grow.
“We see accountability metrics that include outside requirements as a potential catalyst for better, faster change… these could take the form of vendor or supplier requirements, banking strategies, and other ways to connect the ways of doing business with the need for substantial DEI progress. These outside requirements may utilize penalties or incentives based on compliance.” — Harvard Business Review
Accountability is not something that only needs to be employed when an organization or individual does something wrong. KPIs are tools that allow organizations and leaders to be accountable to their own values—to see if their actions and values are lining up and adjust accordingly. To go a step further in data tracking, providing forums for employees with a variety of backgrounds and identities to share their experience anecdotally and without consequence can provide helpful qualitative data.
Qualitative data is the information that cannot be summed up in numbers, so it’s difficult to chart over time. But this kind of data can provide a lot of color to the quantitative data organizations might track. For example, it can help employers understand the individual health and wellness needs of their employee base and offer more customizable or relevant compensation plans. According to Plan Sponsor, “only half (51%) of employers believe their benefit programs address the individual needs of their workforce, and only 39% offer significant flexibility and choice in benefits.” When organizations make the effort to understand and look out for the needs of their members, it greatly increases the individual’s sense of belonging within that organization.
“Belonging can lead to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, a 167% increase in employer net promoter score, 2X more employee raises, 18X more employee promotions, and a 75% decrease in sick days.” — Deloitte
Trying to cut costs by limiting workers’ benefits not only disproportionately affects minority populations, it could also end up costing businesses more in the long run. Healthy, engaged employees make for a more productive and sustainable workplace. Plus, it’s been proven that more diverse organizations outperform less diverse organizations in both output and revenue. A McKinsey analysis reported that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity at the leadership level were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Even higher percentages were reported for ethnic diversity. Leaving DEI out of the conversation inevitably means less productivity over time and fewer growth opportunities for your organization.
About Dr. Michael Hamby
Michael founded Claims Eval in 2004 after serving as a Physician Reviewer for multiple URA/IRO companies as a Chiropractor. His vision of compiling like-minded physicians to provide timely, quality results for his clients by utilizing evidence-based guidelines that were just beginning to be utilized in the URA process served as the “backbone” of Claims Eval. It was also important to Michael to provide clients with fully customizable solutions based upon their business needs.
Early in the life of Claims Eval, Michael had a vision to continue to expand the footprint within the Physician Review space by focusing on the functions that were most relevant: quality, timely responses and evidence-based decisions that would hold up if the case were to become litigated. As part of that plan, Michael developed Claims Eval proprietary software platform to engage UR professionals to assist in developing a program for growth and success.
Michael is a champion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and brings this to the market and his team through DEI initiatives. He felt that it was instrumental to register Claims Eval into the National Gay and Lesbians Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to further his support of DEI. Michael was recently appointed as Chairperson of Community Engagement with the Rainbow Risk Alliance.
In addition to being the visionary and leader of Claims Eval, he is an engaged community leader and an executive speaker on DEI issues.
About Claims Eval
Claims Eval provides Peer and Utilization Review Services for the Worker’s Comp, Disability, Group Health, and Behavioral Health markets. We use evidence-based proceedings to determine and advocate for medical procedures and care relating to these markets. Through our physician network of over 1,200+ providers across all 50 states, we conduct specialty matching with physicians.
Claims Eval’s mission is to assist clients in creating Medical Reviews that are tailored to their specific needs while meeting the evolving state and federal guidelines. Our four pillars of excellence make us key players in the Peer and Utilization Review Services industry: timely responses, superior quality assurance, experience in the field, and evidence-based decisions.
Claims Eval is a proud member of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in regards to how Claims Eval can assist in meeting your diversity needs.
Claims Eval is a WorkCompWire ad partner.
This is NOT a paid placement.