The 10 Best Practices to Build a Successful DEI Strategy
In a survey by the Harvard Business Review, companies with a diverse workforce are 70% more likely to capture new markets. Renowned analyst and educator Josh Bersin mentioned in a report that inclusive companies are able to get 2.3 times more cash flow per employee. From the job seeker’s perspective, Deloitte noted that 47% of job hunters are actively looking for diversity and inclusion policies when assessing potential employers.
There is no doubt that practising diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is beneficial for business growth, leads to better work opportunities, and promotes job satisfaction. Ensuring that your organisation’s DEI program remains effective is another matter. To quote Joy Altimare, Chief Revenue Officer at EHE Health and Forbes Communications Council Member, “It’s important to remember that DEI is a journey, not a finite project with a destination…It is a way of being and operating in the world that will always require strategy, planning and commitment.”
Here are ten points to consider when creating and sustaining effective DEI strategies. This will help your organisation in laying the groundwork for better outcomes in the workplace whilst serving as an important asset to your business.
1. Ask yourself why DEI matters to your business
What are your reasons for implementing DEI in your workplace? Is it aligned with your corporate vision and mission? Is it important to your internal staff, your business partners, your customers, and to the communities? Consider how DEI will impact your organisation and its stakeholders to help you clarify your motivations.
2. Gather DEI-related data
Quantitative and qualitative data are both essential when you create your DEI strategy. Take note of the demographics of your current workforce, which employees are you retaining and developing, and what kind of talent you want to attract. Conduct opinion surveys to gauge the perspective of your staff about DEI.
3. Start from within
Adding more diverse people to your workforce isn’t the only way to demonstrate DEI. It has to start from what you already have. Do an assessment of your current policies, work tools and processes, benefits and compensation, career advancement, and workplace environment. Does everyone have an equal opportunity to avail of what the company is offering? Does your organisation encourage a sense of belonging for the employees? Identify areas of improvement so no one gets left behind.
4. Secure support from various stakeholders
Idris Stover, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Culture at Shake Shack, noted that, “You need others to join you to have a collective championing of DEI. Decision-makers need to understand why DEI matters from a business standpoint, then drive the strategy forward through their respective spheres of influence.” Aside from the higher-ups, make sure that your DEI program is also supported by your HR and the core business teams. Be mindful of including support from your customers, vendors, and community leaders to ensure the success of your DEI program.
5. Get inspiration from external sources
If you’re new to DEI policy-making, refer to other organisations that are implementing well-established DEI strategies or supporting underrepresented communities. They offer resources that can guide you whilst you lay the foundation of your own DEI strategy.
6. Do SMART goal-setting
Solidify your DEI strategy by goal-setting using the tried-and-tested SMART method: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This will help you to structure your DEI program accordingly with strategic priorities, clear objectives, and the appropriate action plans. This will also help you to track the outcomes of your DEI program with accurate metrics.
7. Communicate your DEI plan clearly and consistently
Communication is integral to ensure that your DEI strategy will be successfully applied in your workplace. Use all communications channels necessary to get your DEI plan across so that everyone will be invested in the program. You can use formal or informal language but make sure your message is clear and consistent.
8. Empower leaders as DEI champions
Provide training platforms for your organisation’s leaders so they can properly apply your DEI strategy. Empower them with the tools to help drive change and create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment. More importantly, your leaders should also have the training to stay committed in cultivating DEI in the workplace and lead by example.
9. Nurture DEI in your company culture
DEI is not simply a matter of following the policy on paper. It must be cultivated as an inherent part of the company culture. DEI flourishes in a workplace that allows empathy, kindness, compassion, and the capacity to deal with difficult conversations.
10. Be transparent and accountable
Practising transparency and accountability will help your organisation to maintain its focus on why you need DEI in the workplace. Always get feedback from your staff and key stakeholders of the business. Incorporate what can be accommodated into your plan and provide updates on the progress of your DEI strategy. Make them part of the journey in establishing a better workplace and in cultivating commitment to the company culture.
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