What Role Does HR Play in Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce?

More companies are adopting DEI initiatives with research indicating the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the workplace, contributing to a better work environment and business revenues. The consensus is that diversity initiatives should be led by the CEO or senior management to be successful. While this is true, as senior management should be on board with strategies that promote diversity and inclusion, the role of HR cannot be downplayed as they are vital to the day-to-day monitoring and implementation essential for success.

So, what is the exact role of HR in creating a more diverse and inclusive environment for employees? While the senior management needs to lead the initiatives, the role of HR extends to fostering changes in the organization culture to create the ideal environment for a diverse workforce to flourish.

Focus Areas for Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

1. Recruitment and selection

One of the critical components to increasing diversity across the organization is recruiting people from diverse groups. It’s an area where biases can cloud judgement, right from the process of sourcing candidates to interviewing them. HR’s role does not end with sourcing candidates from underrepresented categories. They also need to monitor the hiring process from end to end, train hiring managers on unconscious bias to ensure they follow a standardized interview process and evaluate the hiring statistics to rule out the possibility of some managers hiring fewer diverse candidates.

2. Performance Management

Managers need to be aware of unconscious bias and be trained to evaluate the performance of their team members without biases creeping into the assessment process. HR’s role should not be restricted to imparting unconscious bias training to ensure managers follow an unbiased approach to performance rating. They should also evaluate the review process to identify whether some managers consistently rate diverse employees lower than non-diverse ones.

3. Compensation and Rewards

Although compensation is linked to performance, it’s the role of HR to look out for pay inequities due to gender and race compared to non-diverse employees in the same role and with equal performance ratings. Ensuring the performance metrics are clearly defined will remove the possibilities of inequities due to unconscious bias.

4. Training and Development

Diverse hiring should move beyond entry-level roles to all levels of the organization, including leadership roles. Unless employees from diverse groups are given an equal opportunity to grow, they are unlikely to move up the ladder. Therefore, HR should ensure that managers work with every employee to chalk out a plan for their growth and development, regularly assessing the plans to correct any unconscious bias or inequities. The assessment should compare members not only within a team but also with other teams in the organization to ensure every diverse employee optimizes their growth potential and can take on a leadership role in the future.

5. Succession Planning

One of the critical tasks of HR in DEI initiatives is to ensure proper talent management to facilitate the representation of employees from diverse groups in the candidate pipeline for senior or managerial roles within the organization. In case of a scarcity of candidates from a specific underrepresented group, HR must source suitable candidates from external sources to reflect a diverse candidate pool.

6. HR Communication

All online or offline communication from HR should account for a diverse workforce, ensuring a fair representation of employees across genders and underrepresented groups. The same should extend across images and policies or guidelines to ensure a fair and equitable work environment.

7. Employee Feedback

The best way to assess the status of DEI initiatives is through employee surveys and feedback. Engaging with diverse employees to listen to their experiences and eliminate unfair advantages caused by bias can help create an inclusive and equitable workplace.

While DEI initiatives need a leader from the senior management to be the face of the organization’s efforts in the area, the HR team are pivotal to monitoring and implementing them to prevent unconscious bias and ensure that every employee is given the best opportunity to develop themselves. Only this will result in an environment where employees feel valued, contributing to the organizations’ growth.

Recommended Podcast

Episode 62 : What happens after Recruitment?

Recommended Reading

HR Morning : Decoding DEI: HR’s practical guide to understanding DEIB, EID and more

The Diverseek podcast aims to create a platform for meaningful conversations, education, and advocacy surrounding issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in various aspects of society.


Diverseek serves as a platform for meaningful conversations, education, and advocacy surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.