Diversity & Inclusion

3 DEI Practices Companies Can Implement Immediately

People are demanding more from their employers when it comes to addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. After years of limited progress, is now the time for a breakthrough? With all the attention on DEI over the past year and growing momentum from employees, HR teams have their CEO’s ear. Now more than ever, DEI programs have a real opportunity to move the needle.

workplace diversity
Source: Klaus Vartzbed / shutterstock

In Lever’s latest data study on the state of DEI, employees have become increasingly interested in what their employers are doing with regard to DEI: According to employers, 66% of them have asked for insight into their company’s policies, and employees agree; 43% of them say they’ve asked their employers for insight into DEI initiatives.

There are many initiatives companies can pilot to enhance their DEI efforts, but here are three immediate practices companies can implement.

Embrace Data

The first step to successful DEI efforts is to look at your data to understand the state/stage your company is in before implementing new practices. For example, if you’re looking at your candidates at the panel stage of an interview process and only 5% of candidates historically are people of color, it should tell you at least two things: (1) This is an area that needs real attention, and (2) it’s not realistic to set goals for the next quarter at 50%. By understanding where your company is, you can see where you’re already doing well and identify areas that need improvement to make incremental progress toward change.

Once you look at the data closely, it’s important to create transparency across the organization by sharing the information with the recruiting team, hiring managers, and leaders. This ensures everyone is on the same page and is able to identify room for improvement. Then, teams can work to diversify sourcing, building the top of the funnel and doing more employer branding in front of more diverse channels.

Things that get measured get done. Once you’ve identified the company’s gaps and set your goals, it’s important to follow through by tracking progress regularly. Many companies fail to apply the frameworks and metrics to DEI-related work that they apply to other parts of their business. One of the biggest focus areas for companies when it comes to DEI metrics is recruiting. Some goals to consider as a solid starting point on the hiring front can be:

  • Number/percentage of candidates from underrepresented groups,
  • Percentage of candidates who are from underrepresented backgrounds at particular stages of the interview process,
  • Conversion rates from stage to stage during the interview process for candidates from different demographic groups, and
  • Number/percentage of job descriptions that were rewritten to be more focused on impact than qualifications.

Weave DEI into Every Decision You Make

The only way for DEI to become infused into the organization is if every program, process, policy, and decision you make pays attention to inclusion. How you approach job descriptions, performance and compensation reviews, employee resource groups (ERGs), and seemingly small but very important actions like encouraging employees to use pronouns in their e-mail signatures or Slack profiles goes a long way with employees. As a people or an HR team, or really any team, it’s important to call each other out and ask “How can we make this more inclusive?” to continue holding each other to a higher standard.

One way to reduce biases is through performance reviews and compensation review processes. It’s helpful to develop a consistent compensation methodology that incorporates third-party market compensation benchmarks to make sure offers are not only competitive but also fair and equitable to all candidates. For performance reviews, it’s important to utilize 360 review processes—and talking to managers about unconscious bias is part of that process—with multiple layers of calibrations and checks and balances to make sure there’s balance across the board. Finally, “impact descriptions” instead of job descriptions focus less on background qualifications and more on the impact someone can expect to have within 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc. They also have the added bonus of providing more clarity on what the role entails, in addition to helping you diversify your hiring.

Be Intentional with Benefit Offerings

When you are mindful from the start, you’re able to be more thoughtful during high-growth mode, which pays off in innovation, culture, and retention. Your company’s benefits and perks are other areas where you can make a big impact on DEI. During the pandemic, for example, many employees have been dealing with challenging environments at home. They could be caretakers at home for their children or other family members, they could be living alone and feeling isolated, or they could be living in a crowded space with little room for peace and quiet. Structuring a benefits program that’s inclusive of different situations, like a flexible “Home Setup Stipend” that covers child care, grocery delivery services, and ergonomic home setups, can help employees cope with their unique circumstances and support those struggling with different challenges.

Implementing new DEI processes and initiatives is daunting, but if you begin to look at your data and weave DEI into your day-to-day activities, it will get easier and be more effective in the long run.

Annie Lin leads the people function at Lever, which encompasses recruiting, HR, learning and development (L&D), diversity and inclusion (D&I), the workplace, internal communications, and culture.