The year may be coming to a close, but your efforts to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace should continue strong into the new year. If your organization spent the majority of the last year planning to implement DEI, this is the year to take action.
Your employees have heard your commitment to building a culture that centers DEI, and may have seen you lay some groundwork. Now, they’ll be looking to you to build on that foundation in the years to come.
The following goals can be used as the foundation for your 2022 roadmap and inspiration for setting new ones. While you’ve already made visible and commendable progress in the work you and your organizational leaders have done, the outcomes of this year must not mirror those of the next. It’s time to increase your efforts and push forward towards deeper and more impactful change.
Embrace Hard Conversations Around DEI
One of the most powerful tools your employees have for creating a more inclusive workplace are their voices. Therefore, it is important to create a platform in which your employees feel comfortable enough to share questions and comments with those in leadership, knowing their words will be taken seriously.
Create safe spaces that allow for open discussion and are facilitated by a leader who is trained in DEI. Implement a system where employees can share anonymously without fear of retribution. When you create opportunities to amplify all voices in your organization, you gain greater insight into what’s working and not working.
There is not a more valuable method for measuring progress than the thoughts and feelings of those your DEI efforts stand to serve.
Learn How to Measure Inclusion
While diversity alone can be more easily measured within a company, it is much more difficult to measure inclusion. When researching various methods for measuring progress, the Harvard Business Review found that the most value comes from asking the right questions of your employees, and using the right metrics.
They found that the seven key dimensions of inclusion are: fair treatment, integrating difference, decision-making, psychological safety, trust, belonging, and diversity. If questions posed to your employees revolve around these key areas, then the responses should give you perspective on the level of inclusion in your workplace.
If you’re unsure how to pose each question, the HBR provides the basis of the Garter Inclusion Index with the following seven statements. Use options that range from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The more your employees strongly agree with each statement, the more inclusive you can assume your organization to be, granted diversity is already prominent.
- Fair treatment: Employees at my organization who help the organization achieve its strategic objectives are rewarded and recognized fairly.
- Integrating differences: Employees at my organization respect and value each other’s opinions.
- Decision making: Members of my team fairly consider ideas and suggestions offered by other team members.
- Psychological safety: I feel welcome to express my true feelings at work.
- Trust: Communication we receive from the organization is honest and open.
- Belonging: People in my organization care about me.
- Diversity: Managers at my organization are as diverse as the broader workforce.
Set Clear Organizational Milestones
It’s one thing to have goals in place when it comes to increasing DEI in the new year, but goals can many times be left untouched once they’ve been established. Therefore, it is important to create clear milestones so the implementation of those goals are understood by every employee, regardless of position.
It’s one thing to have goals in place when it comes to increasing DEI in the new year, but goals can many times be left untouched once they’ve been established. Therefore, when it comes to implementing those goals, it is important to create clear milestones that are understood by every employee, regardless of position.
Milestones infer growth and achievement of DEI efforts with your organization. They need to have specific dates attached to them to help your employees build enthusiasm and work towards o fulfilling each one. When a milestone is not reached, it is worthwhile to have a discussion and map out plans to put in place to ensure growth occurs, even if delayed. Milestones are what your organization should live by, because it moves you and your leaders from aspirational to intentional.
Include your yearly milestones in your company’s weekly emails and highlight any progress or fallbacks. Announce the current milestone at every company meeting and open the floor for discussion on how it could be met on time. Encourage employees to share their thoughts and insights, even if they prefer to do so anonymously. It is this collaboration over growing a more inclusive and equitable culture that will produce tangible results.
Change the Language
Whether hiring diverse employees, onboarding new folks, or celebrating big anniversaries, the language used should be inclusive. It is up to you as the company leader to know which pronouns your employees use, and to use them whether speaking directly to your employee or about them. Company handbooks, job listings, and other workplace documents should avoid using gendered language when possible.
Refer to parental leave rather than maternity or paternity leave. Use caregivers or guardians rather than mothers and fathers. Avoid “sirs” and “madams” when interacting with people. This not only creates a safer environment for folks, it sets a precedent that gender doesn’t dictate every conversation, interaction, policy, or benefit.
The less your employees are exposed to outdated gender norms, the more likely they are to interact with and embrace one another as people and colleagues.
Reconsider Your Hiring Process
When was the last time you restructured your hiring process, particularly your job requirements? For too long, hiring has been dependent on college degrees, years of experience, recommendations, and criminal records, all of which are products of systemic racism and wealth inequality. Research has shown us that cisgendered white folks from affluent families are more likely to hold degrees from prestigious universities, have a history of impressive internships, provide unmatched recommendations, and have no criminal record.
On the contrary, People of Color are less likely to access higher education, less likely to afford an unpaid internship, less likely to have familial connections to business leaders, and are more likely to have been detained by police and charged with a crime. This does not, however, determine a person’s ability or motivation to learn and excel in a job. It only reflects the obstacles that are systematically placed to deter People of Color from achieving the success of their white counterparts.
When hiring, you may likely find that some groups of people are more “qualified”, however, building equity and inclusion in the workplace requires you to go against the system of hiring that says you only hire those who fit a certain criteria, and forgo the unconscious bias that undergird these criteria. It’s time to rework your system of hiring new folks to embrace equity and inclusion, so that the generations who follow will be steps closer to experiencing a fair and just future.
Examine Pay Disparities
Like the saying goes, sometimes you need to put your money where your mouth is. If you and your leadership are intent on building a culture of DEI that is sustainable over time, it’s essential to examine how equitable pay is. Are there pay disparities based on gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, religion, or any other factor that is not job experience and performance?
Most leaders never intend to discriminate when it comes to pay, and many are unaware such disparities exist. However, research shows that even when leaders may not intentionally pay one employee more than another based on their differences, there is one group of people who are more successful at requesting and receiving higher pay. Those folks are more often than not white males.
Therefore, it is important when building greater DEI competence within your organization to ensure that your employees are paid fairly for the work they do and how well they do it. Pay equity is central to workplace equity.
What Does Your 2022 DEI Roadmap Look Like?
It takes a detailed, focused, and feasible plan to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This last year was the beginning, and the work will get more intricate from here. The benefits, however, will be long lasting.
Let’s talk about how our team can evaluate your company’s approach to DEI and help you develop a plan that is clear, impactful and actionable.