Diversity isn’t just a buzz word but a real game-changer in business. For so long, organizations looked at diversity as a quota to fill. But real diversity comes from influence, not compliance. Many organizations get stuck on where to start.
Here are 8 meaningful ways to build a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion at work including how to make diversity in leadership happen.
1. Take a diversity audit or survey. It’s impossible to make decisions on how to move forward without having a firm understanding of where your organization stands today. A DEI survey can give you a birds-eye view of your organization, helping you understand the demographics and culture of your workplace. This is the blueprint to create meaningful strategies to affect change in the organization.
2. Understand the scope of diversity. Age, gender, disability status, LGBTQ, veteran status, socioeconomic and education background, race, religion, ethnicity are all types of diversity. The more diverse your organization, the more dynamic.
3. Get stakeholder buy-in. Any successful initiative needs buy-in organization-wide, beginning with organization leaders. Focus on the benefits of a diverse organization and how this is good for everyone. Help leaders see DEI as a business function (just as is employee engagement, updated software, streamlined processes, occupational health etc), and how DEI affects the bottom line.
4. What are your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals? Who is held accountable for these goals? Based on the DEI survey, create a formal project plan with measurable objectives to implement diversity strategies. Performance evaluations should include DEI and how managers implement these strategies and initiatives.
5. Talk about it! Much like your strategic communication plans for employee surveys, so, too should HR create a strategic communication plan within the organization and with stakeholders about the DEI initiatives, how they are measured, and the difference they will make in the organization.
6. Put resources behind DEI initiatives. Talk is … “free”. But a bad reputation is devastating (for the bottom line as well). Put meat into DEI initiatives. Create a task force with a budget to develop programs that make a real difference. This can include mentoring programs, training, executing pulse surveys, tracking and monitoring initiatives, communication strategies and more.
7. Recruit and promote diverse leaders to fill leadership positions on all levels. This must be a strategic organization policy. Anonymize resumes. Spread the recruitment net to include historically black and women’s colleges, LGBTQ business organizations, older employees, technical colleges and more. By getting the word out in various channels, you’ll attract more diverse candidates.
8. Provide benefits that correspond to a diverse workforce: flexible schedules, family-friendly arrival and leave times, advance vacation and personal day scheduling, and more. These benefits meet the needs of a diverse workforce.
June is a celebration of diversity – a recognition of history in the United States and how we can work together to do better. #Pride and the Stonewall Riots, #Juneteenth and the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans are just two celebrations that give everyone the opportunity to learn about the contributions of the LGBTQ community and Black Americans and our complex shared history.
As organizations, the best way to celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion is to live it, to walk the talk, and make a long-term, authentic commitment to it. DEI is forever changing and isn’t about one day or month. These dates, though, are unifying opportunities to get the conversation going and taking strategic steps toward more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations.