“Diversity is only one part of the puzzle. Equity and inclusion are the remaining! You can’t put together a complete puzzle with either of the pieces missing. This is why you need to make DEI initiatives a core part of your company values.”
Diversity might be the beginning of the change your company requires, but it won’t be successful without equity and inclusion. When you have a workplace with diverse employees that promotes inclusion through equal pay, retention practices, identical opportunities, and employee engagement, etc. only then can you achieve the right balance. But, how? How can you get to a point where diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t a few terms but the core values of your company? You get there by creating diversity and inclusion goals and then designing the DEI initiatives to implement them.
Unfortunately, there is no DEI wand you can waggle to implement these initiatives. They need time, work, and persistent efforts. They need data to see where you are, where you should be, and how you can go there. In short, DEI initiatives need a complete company culture revamp to be implemented. To help you on your journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization, here are some ways through which you can successfully implement DEI initiatives:
SEEK HELP FROM ERG
If you do not have affinity groups or Employee Resource Groups (ERG), initiate, and seek help from them. These groups have employees who share the same characteristics or background. This means that the marginalized employees have their own space to discuss the issues concerning them. When working on DEI goals execution, taking help from these groups halves your implementation strategy.
ERGs can assist you with enacting the bigger picture DEI policies and goals. They can help you increase diversity by bringing in a diverse pool of candidates for the company and develop inclusion via retention. But, bringing together the employees with shared interests is your way to go!
START BY TARGETING TEAMS
If you want your DEI initiatives to succeed, the best approach is to target the change at the team level instead of as a whole. Your DEI implementation strategy should be a top-down approach. You should start executing all the initiatives from the C-suite first and then move to the bottom. Along the way, you should target teams and not the entire company or you won’t succeed.
As per a report, only 14% of DEI initiatives are implemented on the team level and that’s a low figure. Taking an all or nothing approach in implementing Diversity & Inclusion initiatives won’t work. The change always begins small and the ripple effect creates a bigger & lasting change. You must remember that.
END UNCONSCIOUS DISCRIMINATION
While we may spot overt bias, people sometimes are unaware of the unconscious bias. It means that sometimes the bias and discrimination against a select few is so ingrained within us that we do not even notice it. This could be inadvertently hiring people in your team similar to who you are or matching your personality. Most of the DEI initiatives first focus on educating people about unconscious bias and how to identify it. But this is not enough. You need to take a step further and focus on creating systems that lead results based on data, rules, and rationality rather than emotions, instinct, and liking.
At a very basic level, the recruitment and the employee assessments should be done via a structured and pre-planned format. For example, all the candidates should be asked similar questions, ranked via a standard format and there should be a detailed analysis afterward before making the final decision. When you push aside the basic human factor of letting their unconscious bias get the best of them, only then will you be able to successfully create and implement DEI initiatives in your company.
TURN TO TECH
As I like to say, data never lies! To gauge the change happening you wish to see, you need results and data to support it. To influence DEI initiatives, you need to be able to measure your current standing and future progress. People analytics and related tools are vital in providing you with support in these areas. They will help you identify problem areas as well.
Analyze data throughout the company so you can see the diversity stats, retention stats, and talent management, etc. With the help of tech, you can even unveil unstable patterns in gender bias, compensation, salaries, rewards, perks, and performance reviews. Hence, you will be able to implement the right DEI strategies to counter the wrong metrics.
LEAD FROM THE FRONT
Finally, no matter how much effort you put in to create a DEI team, goals, and steps for the implementation, as long as you are not leading from the front, it won’t work. For a diverse & inclusive organization, you need diverse leaders who want to create a culture of inclusivity. If you want to create an ideal organization, you must an ideal leadership ready to create a better team and company.
The key to ensuring the success of D&I initiatives lies strongly on the shoulders of the leadership team. You, your executives, and C-suite are responsible for your teams. If you can’t be held accountable for everything that’s wrong with the organization then you won’t be able to successfully change it. So, for the success of your D&I initiatives, make the understanding of them the core part of your leadership.