Companies that value diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been proven time and again to be more profitable, innovative and positive places to work. Why, then, do only 41 per cent of companies have fully-developed DEI programs in place (HR Research Institute)?
To achieve DEI in the workplace, you need to take a holistic approach, finding ways to amplify your program in every aspect of your company.
Build a better workplace with DEI
When you prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, your company's work environment will be more positive, collaborative and productive. In this webinar, Catherine Mattice Zundel shares strategies for using DEI efforts to prevent workplace harassment and bullying.
Get Leaders on Board
When working towards a diverse, inclusive workplace culture, many organizations focus on the "tone at the top." In other words, if senior managers model good behavior and encourage DEI, these actions and attitudes should trickle down to lower-level employees.
However, according to strategic HR consultant Catherine Mattice Zundel, putting all the responsibility on a few managers won't change your culture.
Instead, encourage "anybody in the organization, from top to bottom, who has the ability to influence others' behavior" to create "an environment where bullying and harassment is not tolerated." From the CEO down to peer mentors, every employee who has a colleague looking to them for advice should embrace your DEI initiatives in order to make lasting changes company-wide.
Don't Rely Solely on DEI Training
You've heard the old adage "don't put all your eggs into one basket." The same idea applies to achieving better DEI in the workplace. If you rely on yearly training alone, the information won't stick with your employees and you won't create a more inclusive work environment.
To create a culture of inclusion, integrate DEI into all of your policies and procedures. "We have to influence behavior with things like core values, training, performance management systems, coaching conversations, how we're recruiting people, who we're recruiting as new hires and so on," says Zundel.
When you incorporate inclusion into your company's everyday processes, employees will see that DEI isn't something to think about once a year, but a different way of approaching the typical work day.
Evaluate Your Internal Processes
In order to know which of your processes to change and how, conduct an evaluation with DEI in mind. The HR Research Institute suggests asking:
- Does our company measure and analyze DEI? How?
- Do we have a formal budget allocated to closing pay gaps?
- Do our healthcare and EAP providers reflect our workforce (e.g. gender, race/ethnicity, language)?
- Are we following the latest laws, regulations and best practices for DEI?
- Are our performance management, promotion and pay decision processes equitable?
- How do we support the recruitment and promotion of underrepresented groups?
A thorough evaluation could take awhile, but creating a more inclusive culture is worth the wait. After you've put your DEI plan in place, don't forget to review your policies every year or two to stay on top of best practices.
Your employee handbook should give your employees clear guidelines for their behavior towards coworkers. Need help editing or writing yours? Download the free employee handbook template here.
Get Creative with DEI Initiatives
Finally, coming up with ways to boost DEI in the workplace shouldn't feel boring or like a chore. In fact, your initiatives will probably be more effective if they don't follow the same old script.
According to the HR Research Institute, companies should "seek opportunities to drive innovation and encourage diversity of thought" that are unique. Think about weak DEI areas in your industry and company and find exciting ways to fix them.
For instance, do you only hire local candidates? Consider adding remote workers to your organization. Employees from other cities, states and countries can bring new perspectives and ideas.
Or, if you work in the tech industry, the majority of your employees are probably from younger generations. Make your workplace more inclusive by setting up social groups where employees of all ages can enjoy common interests. Try a book club, sports team or a Slack channel for pet photos to start.
Special events, awards and opportunities that cater to employees of diverse backgrounds will make employees feel at home at your company, resulting in a happier, more productive workforce.
Creating a fully inclusive culture won't happen overnight. But if you take these steps, Zundel says, your employees will "start to co-create the culture . . . where they're taking a stand against negative behavior together."