Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the buzzwords that have surrounded businesses for more than a decade. In the last few years, we have heard innumerable global leaders talk about the importance of DEI and how it impacts the future of an organization. But the myriad of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the excessive pressure from the great resignation, accentuated the DEI process in numerous organizations.
Multiple research and studies have shown that diversity and inclusion are flag bearers of higher productivity, engagement, and overall organizational success. That’s why the emphasis on DEI initiatives has been amplified and, globally, organizations are taking innovative steps to attract and retain employees from diverse backgrounds.
To create more awareness in the business domain regarding the importance of diversity, every year in the month of April, organizations observe “Celebrate Diversity Month.” The importance of the event lies in coming together to embrace the differences in cultures, people, interests, and unique characteristics of individuals. It helps foster a respectful, open-minded, and accommodating business environment. Companies that embrace workforce diversity organize multiple events to give an open platform for their employees to express themselves freely.
“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.” —Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google.
It is high time that leaders understand the value of diversity and promote it throughout the organization by undertaking several DEI initiatives. This article will provide DEI best practices that you can follow to make the most of ‘Celebrate Diversity Month 2023’.
Check out the following Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion best practices to adopt for enhancing employee engagement and productivity.
DEI Best Practices 1: Switch To Empathetic Leadership
Empathetic leaders try to understand the concerns, feelings, and thoughts of their team while undergoing an organizational change. Much research has shown that they are able to bring better changes and can manage inhibitions and resistance from employees. When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, many leaders consider DEI the responsibility of HR and are not completely involved in the end-to-end processes. Such organizations aren’t able to achieve much from the DEI initiatives.
A study conducted by Catalyst found that empathy can create inclusivity in the workplace. It states that 50% of the people working with empathetic leaders experience higher workplace inclusion, in contrast to 17% with less empathetic leaders.
Empathy has a direct relationship with innovation, creativity, acceptance, and engagement. By switching to empathetic leadership, organizations make the workplace more inclusive and accommodative. Leaders should get personally involved in the process and must share stories with employees that answer critical questions like why DEI matters and what changes the organization anticipates with the DEI initiatives.
DEI Best Practices 2: Empower Chief Diversity Officer
A chief diversity officer is a person who helps shape the DEI initiatives of an organization. They help in creating strategies to include diversity, equity, and inclusion in all the organizational processes. Many organizations have started to realize the need for DEI professionals in their teams. That’s why the current demand for CDOs is high, but the harsh reality is that their turnover is even higher.
In comparison to 2018, the average turnover of a CDO officer in 2021 had reduced from three years to two years. Furthermore, around 60% of CDOs working in 2018 have left their positions, and most of them are looking for different professional endeavors.
While it is imperative to have DEI professionals on board, empowering them with financial and human resources is the key to successful organizational change. Reducing red-tapism and distributing the responsibilities of creating and implementing DEI initiatives should be shared between employees. If required, upper management should consult external officers for help and support from the CDOs in strategizing the processes.
DEI Best Practices 3: Include DEI In Your Branding
As per the Fortune 500 list, the top 5 companies with the best diversity and inclusion initiatives included Microsoft, Centene, Target, Gap, and Biogen. These organizations have embedded DEI initiatives into their business DNA and are making the rounds with exemplary performance and success. Other than garnering high employee performance and empowering various underrepresented groups, they have achieved the pinnacle of success in employee satisfaction, product innovation, and customer acquisition and retention.
Organizations can notch up their DEI initiatives by rebranding themselves and letting employees from different groups be a part of the change. While this makes employees feel more valued and responsible, it also provides better visibility in the marketplace and attracts better talent.
DEI Best Practices 4: Make Workplace More Accessible
As per the US department of labor, from 2020 to 2021, there was an uptick in the employment of people with disabilities from 17.9 to 19.1 percent. The numbers in themselves show a dismal performance in providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, both the business culture and environment are not suitable or accessible for differently-abled employees.
The number of lawsuits against employers for disability discrimination has seen a huge surge from 1997 to 2021. Out of the total charge filings of 61,331, 37.2% of cases pertain to disability discrimination.
The foremost step organizations need to take is to make the workplace more accessible to differently-abled employees. The following steps will help create a better workplace for them.
Empower and direct HR professionals to formulate policies and procedures to safeguard employees against disability discrimination
Openly communicate the policies through different channels to get more visibility
Create infrastructure to provide specific facilities to different-abled employees
Flexible work timings and internal communication structure to accommodate differences
Create guidelines and grievance redressal mechanisms for employees
DEI Best Practices 5: Accountability At Every Step
“Accountability breeds response-ability.”― Stephen R. Covey.
It is a harsh reality that nothing in the business world changes until we make someone accountable for it. To successfully implement DEI initiatives, it is important to make every employee accountable for the change. Strictures and guidelines should be made a part of the onboarding process and addressed on several occasions.
HR management should conduct anonymous employee surveys to gather feedback and report any biases or discriminatory behavior within the team and leadership. Furthermore, management should inculcate a responsible and inclusive leadership style to understand and respond to the concerns of the employees.
DEI Best Practices 6: Mentoring Employees To Elevate Awareness
Mentoring is a time-tested technique to increase awareness regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in an organization. Continued learning and mentoring have proved vital in enhancing the growth and development of diverse talent. Multiple research projects have provided insights into how minorities and underrepresented groups find mentoring to be a pivotal tool in their career and professional development. This is especially true for women of color and employees from different backgrounds who are looking for leadership opportunities.
Organizations can create specific mentoring programs targeting the skill development of minorities and provide mentors from varied backgrounds. It is important to note that such programs should be made available to other employees to raise awareness regarding workplace diversity and inclusion.
DEI Best Practices 7: Create a Safe and Supportive Workplace
Creating a safe and supportive workplace is essential to promoting DEI. This includes implementing policies and procedures that ensure that every employee feels safe from discrimination and harassment, as well as providing resources for employees who may need support or assistance.
For an organization to remain competitive in the marketplace and reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, it is important to work on the DEI best practices and support its employees at every step. Make the most out of Celebrate Diversity Month and inculcate the discussed DEI best practices into your organizational culture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What are DEI practices?
DEI is an umbrella term that includes organizational policies, programs, and practices that aim to create an equitable, inclusive, and diverse workplace. It helps create an environment where differences are celebrated and everyone is respected for their unique identity.
Q2. How do you promote DEI in the workplace?
Ans. The following best practices will help in promoting DEI in the workplace:
Switch to empathetic leadership
Empower Chief Diversity Officer
Include DEI on your branding
Make workplace more accessible
Make everyone accountable
Mentor employees to elevate awareness
Q3. What are the best ways to promote diversity in the workplace?
Ans. The following ways will help in promoting diversity in the organization:
Educate your employees on the benefits of workplace diversity
Create policies to support diverse talent
Organize mentoring programs to raise awareness among employees
Hire diverse talent to support organizational diversity goals
Q4 : How can leaders promote DEI within their organizations?
Ans. Leaders can promote DEI within their organizations by modeling inclusive behaviors and language, setting clear DEI goals and holding themselves accountable for progress, ensuring diverse representation at all levels of the organization, and creating opportunities for underrepresented groups to develop and advance their careers.
Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.