You could have diversity at the top levels of your company, professional association or educational institution but still fail to practice inclusivity and ensure equity. DEI challenges can manifest themselves in a variety of subtle ways. Minority leaders may be excluded from decision-making processes or be given titles that are meaningless. They may be asked to oversee other minor or “special projects,” but they are not permitted to engage in or work on majorly significant tasks.
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To achieve your goals as an inclusive, multicultural, conscious leader, it’s crucial to create a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.
Why Is DEI Important for Your Organization?
There are various reasons why investing in a purposeful DEI strategy is a vital move for every organization, including the following:
Improve employee retention rates.
Increase creative solutions and better problem solving.
Mirror the market or customer diversity to help improve customer experiences.
Shape inclusive leaders who can manage multicultural and global teams effectively.
Increase representation in leadership by giving everyone access to opportunities.
Collect and measure data insights that produce better business strategies.
Build an inclusive culture based on shared values.
Create more positive workplace experiences for all.
Be known as an employer of choice.
How Do You Create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy?
Employers utilize DEI efforts to meet regulatory requirements as well as improve the bottom line by having a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.
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As a leader or company owner, you may use the following action steps to build a DEI strategy:
1. Collect Relevant Data
You need to first understand how your workforce compares to the labour market and whether there are any demographic inequalities and areas of concern or trends.
Certain types of demographic information that are useful in creating a DEI strategy typically include age, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender, generation, language, organization function or position, personality type, religion, sexual orientation, thinking or learning styles, etc. At Tough Convos, we gather this preliminary data in our initial audit either with a survey we design or by reviewing data you've already collected.
2. Establish the Need for a DEI Initiative
Underrepresentation or problematic situations can reveal themselves after data collection. Employers should start with a high-level examination of demographics like age, sex, and racial representation and equity, then dive down by location, department, position, and so on. In our custom needs analysis, we identify the gaps and opportunities.
This is the time to formulate tough questions like:
Is management dominated by older white males?
All things being equal, do Black women earn less than white women?
Are certain branch workforces more racially diverse than others?
The answers to these questions and the explanations why things are the way they are should guide you in why a DEI initiative is necessary for your organization and what specifically you should focus on..
3. Identify Barriers to DEI
Check whether there are any impediments to employment, opportunity, or inclusion for people from various demographic groups. Consider whether there are practices and policies that may impede DEI. These include employee referral programs, unconscious hiring biases, a company culture that doesn't tolerate opposing beliefs or different lifestyles, and overt political messaging, preferences or affiliations. You have to lay it all on the table in order to address it.
4. Set Business Objectives
Set precise DEI goals that are aligned with the company’s strategic objectives. For example, you can build cultural competence and inclusive decision-making through training. This way, the team can harness current team diversity and capitalize on diverse ideas more effectively. DEI work should become apart of your everyday processes and procedures, not an extra arduous step.
5. Get Senior-Level Buy-in and Support
Senior-level buy-in and support are critical for a DEI strategy to thrive. Choose a senior-level advocate who will be responsible for providing visible support for the effort and keeping the program active. Also, figure out how management will be held accountable for supporting and participating in DEI efforts. We believe in the sandwich approach, commitment and budget from the top, experience and passion from the bottom meet in the middle and produce positive change.
6. Implement DEI Initiatives
Changes in policies and practices, staff training, targeted recruiting, and employer-sponsored DEI awareness activities for employees are typical examples of DEI initiatives. To build momentum, develop an action plan to implement these initiatives by setting realistic goals and starting with the items that have the highest business value or are easy to implement. Getting some wins early on make DEI work not so daunting, and more momentum attracts more support.
7. Continuously Communicate DEI Initiatives
Identify various stakeholders and create targeted messaging to inform, educate, engage, and empower them as needed. Keep your DEI initiatives top of mind by sending an ongoing stream of communications about the initiatives. Especially to the people who should be involved, while remembering all levels of the organization need to learn and grow, this work is meant to produce company wide change.
8. Measure and Share Results
Track the outcomes of your implemented DEI efforts and disseminate them at all levels. Results can come in the form of better employee job satisfaction survey scores, retention or public recognition. Make sure what you're tracking aligns with your company's priorities and what you really want to see change.
9. Review and Make Adjustments
DEI initiatives require continuous examination to remain responsive to changing needs. Thus, it’s crucial to develop methods for reviewing DEI efforts and goals on a regular basis. For example, during our yearly program, we have regular check ins to monitor growth, propose pivots and ensure what's being implemented is producing relevant results.
Get Help With Your DEI Strategy
You're reading this blog because you are great at what your company does, and you also want to have an inclusive culture people talk about so much that your brand speaks for itself and attracts the type of talent you want. If you see your organization is struggling to become more inclusive and equitable or you're not sure how to start creating a DEI strategy, Tough Convos can help. We specialize in taking you from wanting to be inclusive to working DEI into the fabric of your org. Let's talk about what you need. Book a call with our founder Daphne and we'll get you moving in the right direction.