- Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets. (HBR)
- Companies employing an equal number of men and women manage to produce up to 41% higher revenue. (Clear Company)
- 2 out of 3 job candidates seek companies that have diverse workforces. (Glassdoor)
- 74% of millennial employees believe their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion, and 47% actively look for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. (Deloitte)
As you evaluate your current practices and begin to consider incorporating DEI into your culture, it must be done in a thoughtful, meaningful, and authentic way. Some leaders think if they send out a web-based training on diversity for all employees to take that is a DEI strategy. That approach to DEI transparently tells employees that this is another exercise and corporate check the box initiative.
Creating an authentic and culture-embedded DEI program is not a one-size-fits-all prescriptive approach. For a DEI program to make a true difference on your bottom line, the program must be customized based on the needs of your organization. It requires actionable support from the leaders at the top and throughout the organization and it must be supported by intentional actions and programs to move the needle towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. As you’re thinking about beginning your organizations DEI journey, consider the following components of a good DEI program:
- Visioning/Strategic Planning. Just like any other new business initiative or strategy, before you act, you do planning, typically through some visioning or strategic planning. Consider bringing leaders and members of your workforce together to strategically talk about what DEI should look like when it’s done successfully. Identify what Companies are doing DEI correctly, where it is second nature and embedded in their culture. Describe what qualities they reflect that bring you to that conclusion. Through this process, create a “picture” of the Company’s result should look like. Through this process, don’t forget to capture comments that describe the current state of the organization. That will help you as you continue to build your strategy.
- Benchmarking Current State. Now that you have the vision of where the company wants to be, it’s time to draw a picture of the current state of the organization. This is done through a combination of quantitative and qualitative exercises focused on each piece of the DEI equation.
Diversity: Go too directly to your HRIS and ATS’s and do not pass go! Start with looking at your current workforce and pulling demographic information related to protected classes and otherwise (race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, (dis)ability status and political perspective). Identify what the current makeup of your workforce is, look at your applicant and hiring numbers to also paint a picture of what is happening through your recruiting process (Applications, Interviewed, Offered a Job, Hired). What does that data tell you? Don’t stop there. Look externally. Ideally, an organization should be representative of the customers they serve and the communities they work in.
Equity: Equity addresses bias, harassment, and discrimination. What’s the Company’s current commitment to equal opportunity for all persons and not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status? What processes and programs are in place that reflects that, such as conducting pay equity audits, reviewing interview and hiring patterns and practices, reviewing employee relations claims and data, especially in the areas of discrimination and harassment, reviewing accommodation requests both approved and denied, and other practices that are in place to ensure equity for all? If you can’t name any, that may be a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Consider conducting a culture assessment, which will provide you with both quantitative and qualitative data to assess the current state of your organizational culture. It will also give you a benchmark and way of measuring your progress over time.
Inclusion: Inclusion refers to your organization’s deliberate efforts to ensure that the Company is a place where differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respectfully heard and where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion. Your culture assessment will help you to define your current state related to inclusion as well but also turn to your internal data again. Review exit interview data, look at employee relations complaints and review your onboarding, rewards, and development practices.
- Define the Strategy. Now that you have your benchmarks and data that outlines your current state, you can compare that against your vision or desired DEI state. Define what tangible actions, steps, processes, and programs will be put in place to move the organization from point A (current state), to point Z (desired state).
- Operationalize the Strategy with Actions and Metrics. It was intentional that I referenced developing a strategy that will get you from point A to point Z. There are a lot of letters between A & B. DEI is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to complete this work and achieve your DEI goals in a year. This is culture change and that change takes time and years. Don’t get discouraged. Develop milestones along the way and check-in where you complete either “pulse” or full culture assessments to track your progress. Re-evaluate your strategy based on those milestones and progress. Go at the pace that is the right speed for your organization.
Engage all levels of your organization in this work and embedded actions and programs throughout the entire employee life cycle. DEI should be identified clearly as part of the Company’s values and leaders and managers should have actionable goals related to how they will support and champion this work. When doing this, it represents the commitment level for change and evolution within the organization and begins to embed DEI into the culture and the way the Company works.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.
DEI should not be a secret or something that is only discussed at the c-suite or board level. Don’t be afraid of talking about where you currently are where you need to be as an organization and all things in-between that is being done to become a more DEI organization. Look for ways to engage front-line employees in this work, as well as find your change agents or ambassadors for the change. These are the people that will help you move through the change cycle more quickly and encourage employee adoption for the work that some may feel is too fluffy, not impactful to how they pound nails into the structure, or otherwise are less bought into the topic of DEI. Don’t forget to celebrate the organizational successes, as well as call out small wins in the DEI space and learn from where the organization stumbled or didn’t make the milestone as intended. Use it as an opportunity to understand what could have been done differently, reassess and do it again.
As your business aspires to provide a more inclusive workplace, the overall progress has been slow. A diverse team, equitable business practices, and an inclusive space for people to feel not only safe but valued will drive successful outcomes for any business. If you are looking to take action and make changes in your business our team of HR consultants can help you review and institute DEI best practices, from recruitment strategy to a full review of your current human resource processes and procedures we can help. Contact us to learn more (800) 317-1348×14.