Organizations that are striving for more diversity can consider a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. A DEI strategy should be born from a desire to improve, and it’s a necessity to have a plan of action to help your organization become more diverse. Having a DEI strategy can help your business thrive because you can hire people from diverse backgrounds and experience levels that have different solutions to problems.
Incorporating a DEI strategy without making the necessary plans can be a risk for small businesses. Your HR department should always follow local and federal employment regulations. If you want to start being more inclusive in your business, but you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. A DEI strategy is all part of improving organization practices and company culture, something 65% of millennials value, according to an infographic from Shareable for Hires.
Here are steps to incorporating a DEI strategy.
1. Conduct an Assessment
If you’re creating your first DEI strategy, you should have all of the insights from your employees about their experiences within your business. You can perform an equity assessment on your computers to learn about how minorities might be treated within your organization. You may believe you have a company culture of inclusion only to find out your employees are being mistreated.
You should also ensure your leaders are competent enough to deploy a DEI strategy. Because a DEI strategy is a sensitive subject, you’ll need to have a more surgical approach instead of rolling something out without understanding current employee experiences.
2. Acknowledge Barriers
When starting a DEI initiative, you must acknowledge the barriers that exist for many people in the workforce. There is tons of data that tells us information about how people are treated in the workplace, and you should have some idea about the experiences your employees have at work. Listening and learning about the different employee experiences can help you address the barriers that have been set within your organization and maybe even the community you serve.
3. Uncover Employee Knowledge of DEI
Finding out the awareness level of your employees can help you discover ways to incorporate a DEI strategy into the business without changing everything in a single day. Learning about what your employees know about diversity and inclusion can help you make better decisions. By talking with your employees, they’ll also be more likely to follow your new initiatives because they understand that change is coming. It also gives them a chance to voice their opinions for how they want things to change.
4. Understand Your Customers
Learning about your customers can help you understand how you compare to the market. If your current customers don’t reflect the market, you may have a bigger opportunity for inclusion, especially economic inclusion, and the ability to grow your market share. Having a diverse workforce can also allow for natural expansion into a market.
5. Make it Personal
A DEI strategy isn’t directly for the benefit of your sales or your business; it’s a benefit for the people within your community and your existing employees. Business leaders must prioritize key initiatives, so it’s important to make your DEI strategy personal to you so it’s always at the top of your list. You should make it clear to managers why DEI is important so they’ll make it a priority as well.
6. Get Ideas From Your Workforce
You can hire a specialist that can help you craft the perfect DEI strategy, or you can get your team involved in the process. By surveying existing employees, you may learn something you didn’t know before or find solutions to problems you didn’t even know existed. For example, your employee’s likely network online or go to events; they might be able to help you hire a more diverse workforce.
Many of your employees already have good ideas for how you can improve your inclusion efforts; they just haven’t had the right time or place to voice their opinions.
7. Start Slowly
Making drastic changes to your business can lead to chaos, so we recommend starting slowly by focusing on inclusion first if you need to slowly roll out your DEI initiative. You can start by building awareness among your employees about the benefits of inclusion to start building empathy among your team members. Next, focus on diversity. Focusing on diversity alone can lead to a high turnover rate because you’ll be hiring people of color without making inclusion efforts to make them feel valued and welcome.
8. Implement DEI Into Every Area of the Organization
If you have a genuine commitment to DEI, it will extend beyond HR. DEI programs should be strategic and spread through every area of your business. Executive leadership should start to understand the importance of DEI because they need to feel as passionate about it as you do to make it work.
9. Invest in Learning
Employees love to learn. Very few people want to get stuck in a job doing the same thing day after day for a decade; instead, people take jobs so they can learn and build upon their skill sets to stay engaged and happy in the work they do.
By investing in employee learning, you can help employees from all backgrounds truly succeed. For example, you might hire someone as a marketing assistant because they don’t have enough experience to work as a manager, but by providing that person with the necessary education and learning experience, they can develop the skills they need to get promoted and make your business a success. Not to mention employees who feel like their employers have invested in them are more hardworking and loyal.
10. Promote Fair Hiring Practices & Equal Pay
You can choose to hire whoever you want, but your hiring practices should always be fair. If you have someone in a position of power who is biased toward one group of individuals, it’s time to find someone to fill their shoes. Talk to all of your hiring managers about fair hiring practices and beware of any red flags within your organization.
Additionally, managers need to promote equal opportunities for every employee, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. You can pull your employee data to find out which employees are underpaid. For example, you may find that a male is paid more than his female counterpart even though they do the same job and have the same background. By noticing these inequalities, you can begin making changes within your organization.
Matt Casadona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys San Diego life, traveling, and music.