Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tactics and Strategies that Actually Work
Now that companies throughout the country have started taking diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace seriously for several months, we thought it time to offer up some DEI tactics and strategies that many companies have found to work.
The first step: setting goals
What is it you actually want to accomplish by becoming more diverse, equal, and inclusive?
Figure out where you are now: how diverse is your current employee roster? How equal do you treat everyone? (Find this by looking at pay rates for the same job descriptions among men/women, whites, people of color, disabled people, etc.) How well do you make your workplace welcome to everyone (privacy for new mothers, ADA compliance, etc.)?
For example: how many women of color live in your area? Do you notice that you have a lot fewer women of color in managerial positions compared to the demographics of your local market, your company’s stated goals, or even compared to your competitors?
Raising this data would help to make a great goal. Set a timeline for doing so. Share goals with all stakeholders and consider making it part of their job requirements that executives and even senior managers must improve the diversity on their teams and in the organization.
Create different ways for people to bring up concerns, issues, and complaints
What’s more, people who complain of discrimination or harassment often end up facing career challenges and/or experience adverse mental and even physical health issues when compared to their colleagues who also were harassed but didn’t complain about it.
Stating the obvious: this doesn’t create an environment where people are comfortable speaking up when they see or experience discriminatory behaviors.
Utilizing a company’s employee assistant plans (EAPs) could help alleviate this problem. EAPs often are outside vendors. An employee could complain to a company’s EAP, which could then report it to the company.
Leadership also needs to change the way it too often sees such reports and incidents: instead of looking at these types of complaints as threats, a company’s C-suite needs to see and value them as information that can lead to positive organizational change.
Combine implicit/unconscious bias training with other strategies
In other words, make your company’s diversity training part of a more all-encompassing DEI effort.
As an example, along with bias training, “small” tactics, such as making salaries known along with conducting a pay equity assessment, can help raise employee motivation and collaboration. While the data isn’t clear as to whether such transparency regarding salaries actually results in more equitable pay, this “small” change can have a significant impact on your DEI efforts. After all, transparent salaries can be excellent protection against racial, gender, and other biases.
Consider making diversity training voluntary
That’s right. Don’t force the training on your employees.
Diversity training can often make some workers feel attacked personally and worried that they’ll find themselves discriminated against. People also dislike feeling controlled.
Encourage everyone to attend, of course, yet do so in a way that makes people feel they’re doing you a favor. Say something like “We believe increasing our diversity will make our company better” rather than “If we don’t increase our diversity, we’re making ourselves vulnerable to lawsuits.”
Also, it’s a smart idea to provide employees research that shows that more diverse companies tend to be more productive and profitable.
Make sure leadership is fully engaged with your DEI efforts
If your leadership is only half-heartedly “up with” your DEI efforts, you pretty much can expect it to fail. This makes perfect sense: pretty much nothing changes in a business unless its leadership embraces the change and even…takes the lead on it.
And, while having executives and other leaders embrace your efforts, it’s also critical that department managers also welcome your DEI initiatives.
Consider making managers from different departments members of your company’s diversity task force(s). Ask them to get together to look at pay/promotion, hiring, and retention data. They should also be held responsible for identifying areas that need improvement in their own departments, conducting those efforts, reporting back to the task force(s) on their result, and then “selling” their successful programs to other leaders.
How have your DEI efforts been coming along at your company? What do you wish you knew when you started them that you know now?