3 Strategies That Ensure Your Diversity Initiatives Go Beyond Box-Checking

TSP • @myTSPnet


For the past several years, diversity and inclusion movements have encouraged companies across the board to create a more inclusive workplace. From the #FoundersForChange to the discussions around pay equity, 2021 is the time to improve your company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Diversity and inclusion are essential in creating a strong workforce and culture within your company. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative leaders in their industries and have 19% higher revenue.

Treating diversity initiatives as check marks on your to-do list will not allow you to truly be a changemaker. These initiatives take time and require integrated HR policies. If you’re unsure of where to start, keep reading for three diversity and inclusion strategies to implement that go beyond box-checking.

It’s important to know where your company stands with diversity compared to competitors. Collecting data on your workforce demographics should be the first step in ensuring you are leading a diverse work environment. Once you have collected employee demographics, you can identify whether there’s equity and determine areas of concern.

Avoid narrowing your list of data to just ethnic background, gender or age. Your list should include personality type, languages, learning style, experiences and beliefs. Broadening your consideration set will help you take a look at the bigger picture of inclusion and equity. From there, you'll know where to focus your efforts.

Start by making changes to the problem areas of your data report, or areas where you lack certain backgrounds or qualities. Whether it’s hiring more women in senior-level positions or hiring more minority employees from different religious or ethnic backgrounds, data allows you to hone in on your areas for growth in diversity and inclusion practices and correct accordingly.

Once you have a working understanding of the different types of diversity and plans for self-correcting your weaker areas, you should consider surveying your current employees. A diversity and inclusion survey can help provide a benchmark for where your company currently stands, allowing you to measure and monitor your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. In addition, surveying your employees can provide insights into your employees’ perception of and satisfaction with your efforts.

While each organization may have a slightly different approach to a diversity and inclusion survey, it’s best to follow a template that is proven and tested. Consider using a Likert scale to gauge your employees’ agreement with statements like, “this company is committed to diversity,” “employees who are different are treated fairly at this company” or “I have personally witnessed discrimination at this company.” These questions should send a signal to employees that you are prioritizing diversity and striving towards fairness and a broader purpose and ensuring all employees feel heard and understood.

The human resource department and managers are the vessel for the diversity and inclusion change that you seek. Without their efforts and buy-in, the culture of diversity and inclusion cannot live or be embedded within your organization. Managers and directors are key partners, along with HR, in building and sustaining an inclusive culture.

Managers and HR should be trained only after company leadership has established the why and how your diversity and inclusion practices will work. The “why” begins with C-suite and cascades down, when leaders of organizations ask themselves some fundamental questions, most importantly, “why is this work of dismantling inequity important to me?” The “why” validates the authenticity of the work and employees need to hear a “why” to authenticate their leaders’ true commitment, beyond just box-checking and creating a favorable public image.

Sending company-wide emails acknowledging topics such as Black Lives Matter or other social justice issues and hiring people from different ethnic backgrounds isn't enough. It’s crucial to incorporate diversity and inclusion into your company’s culture. To truly drive change, your initiatives must be embedded in your day to day work.

This can include writing job descriptions with gender-neutral language, creating inclusive bathroom signs, hosting international potlucks and surveying employees for the ideal office temperature. Business leaders who are willing to go deeper have the opportunity to be a part of a paradigm shift in corporate America’s involvement in systematic racism.