Despite heightened awareness surrounding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in the workplace, there remains a need for significant change. More than 60% of U.S. workers say they’ve witnessed or experienced discrimination based on race, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
Many companies say they champion DEIB, but when they don’t follow through with meaningful change, it becomes merely another buzzword. For example, companies show a lack of commitment when they create a DEIB team but do not provide the team with an adequate budget.
Over half of employees want their company to commit more energy toward promoting DEIB and creating a safe environment for everyone. Superficial actions and lip service won’t improve a company’s culture. Instead, organizations must embed DEIB into their DNA to promote and sustain long-lasting change. To start, companies can implement these four best practices:
Form a DEIB Team, and Appoint a Leader
Organizations should approach DEIB as seriously as any other business priority. Establishing a DEIB team demonstrates a company’s commitment to creating an inclusive work environment. Furthermore, 75% of companies with diverse and inclusive decision-making teams will exceed their financial targets throughout the rest of 2022.
Why? Because gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperform their less inclusive counterparts by 50%. Teams with diversity of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or geographic and national culture reflect their company’s user base, which, in turn, allows the organization to better serve its consumers.
Dedicated DEIB employees and teams must also turn promises into action. They claim small wins by setting goals, holding leaders accountable, and integrating DEIB into everything their business does. For example, a diversity leader may audit a company’s supplier database and develop a strategy to source more diverse suppliers—classified as businesses at least 51% owned and operated by a traditionally underrepresented or underserved group.
Furthermore, DEIB teams and leaders lead tough conversations on race, inequality, and privilege. Some people find this job responsibility uncomfortable because it involves changing the hearts and minds of some employees. However, teams must facilitate tough conversations on race, inequality, and privilege in settings like all-hands meetings or breakout sessions. These discussions encourage employees to think more inclusively, which is ultimately critical to business success.
For this critical work to happen, an organization must set up a DEIB team for success by:
- Granting them access to people analytics;
- Empowering them to hold all employees, including managers and executives, accountable for not meeting DEIB goals; and
- Supplying them with enough financial resources or team growth to meet goals.
Initiatives will stall if organizations don’t provide that basic level of support to their DEIB teams.
A Culture of DEIB Starts at the Top
DEIB teams also need an open line of communication with their CEO to push initiatives forward. A direct reporting line, through which teams can share DEIB metrics and program updates, guarantees work gets done and executives make inclusive company decisions. When a CEO stays involved with DEIB initiatives, an organization will see commitment cascade downward.
Just under 60% of DEIB leaders say their executive management team plays a significant role in the endorsement and advancement of DEIB. Yet only 13% of those senior leaders demonstrate their support proactively and visibly by keeping employees updated on DEIB goals and initiatives.
The C-suite must take a definitive stance and emphasize the value and impact of DEIB. When executives stay connected with DEIB teams, they gain the knowledge needed to vocalize DEIB goals internally and externally with stakeholders. And while “talking the talk” is important, living these values and demonstrating how to weave them into company culture are just as essential.
So, how can executives act as the top champions for DEIB initiatives? They can:
- Lead initiatives to increase company diversity, like championing employee resource groups (ERGs), conducting a DEIB company audit, or hosting quarterly DEIB conversations focused on retention and inclusive benefits and policies.
- Fight against oppressive legislation, and show commitment to employees by providing resources to take action.
The C-suite should also include DEIB teams in all big company decisions to keep inclusivity a part of the conversation. That includes giving DEIB teams the freedom to discuss their thoughts and findings with leadership, uncover what may be lacking, and develop actionable solutions.
Implement DEIB Training
While not an end-all solution to discrimination, requiring employees to participate in DEIB training helps drive change by educating employees, providing perspective, and creating opportunities for discussion. This change is critical, as nearly a quarter of black and Hispanic employees in the United States have experienced workplace discrimination over the last year.
Types of DEIB training include:
- Awareness training: This calls attention to potential imbalances and prejudices to help employees better understand others’ backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences.
- Skill-based training: This improves employees’ interpersonal skills, such as empathy and showing respect, to ensure they work fairly with other team members.
- Intermediate training: This is a combination of awareness and skill-based training and helps employees apply and enhance intercultural knowledge to improve cooperation, communication, and inclusion skills.
Well-rounded training lays the foundation for true action by enhancing cultural awareness, encouraging innovative thinking, elevating decision-making, and improving problem-solving. But training is just one step in a larger DEIB plan and requires follow-through.
Organizations must tie training into pay equity, pay transparency, talent development, and retention benchmarks. Through measured efforts, companies improving diversity via DEIB training show their dedication to driving process and growth.
Analyze DEIB Data
People analytics help organizations explore underlying business trends that might contribute to key cultural indicators, like turnover, engagement, representation, and performance. A digital solution, such as a people analytics platform, helps organizations visualize and understand their people and DEIB data. Visual data paints an accurate picture of the organization’s health so leaders can easily see what’s working and where there’s room for improvement.
For example, a stacked bar graph can show an organization’s total head count breakdown by ethnicity for each department. Perhaps one department is more representative of all communities than another. Companies can discuss the differences and how to elevate diversity and inclusion across all departments.
Sharing data visualizations with company leaders allows them to address identified concerns and help develop solutions that support companywide goals and initiatives. DEIB goals should support all team members—both current and future. Goals can look like:
- Building a transparent salary strategy to minimize compensation bias,
- Developing retention strategies to keep underrepresented talent at an organization,
- Creating objective career frameworks to reduce barriers to professional development, and
- Establishing a system to address microaggressions toward underrepresented groups.
Organizations should also use a people analytics solution to track DEIB goals and create accountability by setting clear numbers and timelines. Companies championing DEIB and walking the walk motivate employees to stay with their organization, refer people they know, and bring their best selves to work.
Companies taking DEIB efforts seriously can’t stay complacent. The job of prioritizing DEIB never ends—it’s a movement.
Moving forward, companies must revisit these initiatives with consistent analysis to ensure their efforts remain meaningful and impactful—adjusting as needed—while improving the employee experience.
Ivori Johnson (she/her) is the Director of DEIB at ChartHop. A former Hampton University and Penn State alum, she is recognized for her work in the DEIB space and has worked for organizations such as Google, Twitter, DuPont, and Capital One. Johnson is passionate about creating opportunities for underestimated communities but, most importantly, making sure that all people belong and are welcome in any industry. She advocates for equity, fairness, and representation in the tech industry and breaks down barriers that do not support inclusive hiring, retention, inclusion, fairness, and equity.