If your company started a diversity, equity, and inclusion program in 2019, it’s time for a critical review. The popularity of DEI programs has risen dramatically — owing largely to the social and racial injustices that require action. Yet, too many diversity and inclusion programs don’t take action or make an impact. Here are some ways you can push your program toward something greater.
For a diversity and inclusion program to work well, every person in the organization must be committed. It’s easy to talk about DEI, but real change requires action. Leaders have to be willing to lead by example. Here are some examples of real actionable changes they can take — rather than just saying how important diversity and inclusion efforts are at a staff meeting once a month.
- They make an effort to use inclusive language
- They use a gender decoder on job ads
- They sponsor an Employee Resource Group (ERG)
- They serve as a mentor for employees at lower levels
You can track these actions through anonymous surveys or 1:1 check-ins on a regular basis.
Your recruitment team has likely worked hard to attract diverse candidates who represent a variety of backgrounds and social groups. The result? Assorted perspectives and talents in a single room. This is a tremendous benefit to the company, but it can be isolating for the individuals if the proper steps aren’t taken.
When diverse individuals are integrated into organizations that previously operated as PWIs (predominantly white institutions), it can feel overwhelming. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) help to lighten this load by bringing employees together, fostering an inclusive culture, enhancing personal development, supporting broader business objectives, and expanding their network.
These groups aren’t just for minority communities either. The success of ERGs requires ally membership as well. So, make sure the invitation is open to anyone interested.
Companies often form their DEI programs with broad mission statements and vague goals. This allows them to meet their objectives without ever having to reach for them. But that doesn’t impact true change. To make your program effective, you’ll need benchmarks like representation objectives to build and retain a workforce that mirrors your customer base.
Consider publishing your plans and data for both your employees and the general public to see. This continually reminds you that you put your goal out into the world and someone else will notice if you don’t act on it. It also builds trust with others that you keep your word on significant topics.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are an asset to your company if you create one with the intention of using it for the greater good. Perhaps begin with a online diversity training So, don’t start a program for the optics — simply to “check a box” — this won’t serve you, your employees, or your community.