Investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace produces better outcomes. This is due to employees knowing that they matter, and that their opinions and principles are known and respected. It fuels motivation to do their best work, and builds loyalty and trust. This is one of many reasons why companies are prioritizing DEI in the workplace.
Some organizations have found successful methods for building inclusive spaces, while others have struggled to get a program off the ground. This action plan may seem simple on paper, but implementing a plan can be rather challenging for most organizations.
Below are five practical and actionable tips on how to implement DEI in your workplace:
1. Create a Council or Task Force
An immediate way to implement DEI is to form a council or task force dedicated to ensuring that all employees are included. The members should comprise of at least one C-suite executive and other employees who believe in the vision and mission of the council.
The council should establish a functional charter, meeting cadence and short/long term goals. While this can be a slow process (everyone has day jobs!) an effective Council can really kick start your internal efforts.
2. Consider Your Referral Program
DEI should ideally start at the onset of the hiring process, where a variety of identities and experiences are welcome to participate and apply. Consider if your current employee referral program is supporting your DEI goals, or incentivizing more of the same.
In looking for certain demographics, a company has to be proactive in its search and advertising. Use of inclusive language choices, and intentionality in job descriptions are especially important.
3. Embrace Lines of Difference
While this is not a new DEI strategy, it can tend to fall to the wayside, especially in a virtual environment. One of the best ways to express to the employees that their identities and experiences are embraced is to celebrate these with them.
Hold space for celebration, moments of acknowledgement, and coming together. Be sure to involve the individuals who’s lived experiences inform the celebration (hint: don’t Google Diwali and throw your own party if you are not Hindu). Take celebration beyond the standard “food and culture” sharing and invite depth and warmth into the discussion.
4. Give Ample Opportunity To Be Heard
Give employees multiple channels to participate in DEI conversations – this can be via email, a Slack channel, or an in-person roundtable discussion. Providing space and time for employees to share their truths will build trust and support a culture of vulnerability.
5. Keep Trying New Things
This is where a big challenge can come in – it can be difficult to break from tradition, especially if DEI is not ingrained in the workforce. Ultimately, leadership is responsible for any change management initiative, and DEI should be no different. Good governance equates to great results.
But we also have to challenge ourselves to try new methods and get out of our own way. If something is different from “how you’ve always done things”, chances are you are on the right path.
Implementing DEI in the Workplace
Cultivating a culture of belonging is crucial in a workplace. It should be considered a priority since it can lead to better productivity, increased employee retention, and more genuine engagements. Moreover, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace should be considered a continuous journey that, like any good journey, has its ups and downs and turnarounds. Just keep moving forward.