Over the last few years, many business leaders have scrambled to put DEIB programs in place, attempting to tackle barriers to equitable opportunities like bias, inequity, or homogeneous teams in their workplace and more. Despite some forward progress and good intentions, few have been able to create lasting change that truly demonstrates their companies’ commitment to DEIB.
Effective, lasting DEIB strategies will help business leaders foster a more inclusive and diverse workplace, leading to increased innovation, productivity, and profitability. Getting it right is both a business and moral imperative that will be transformational to your company and its people. So where do you begin?
In this article, we’ll discuss 8 key strategies that are vital to your organization’s DEIB programs.
DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and is the practice of creating an environment where people of all backgrounds can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential.
DEIB is about ensuring that everyone in the workplace feels valued, respected, and included, regardless of their race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability, or any other characteristic related to team members’ identities. When employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves, they are more engaged, productive, and innovative, which can ultimately lead to better business outcomes.
When done earnestly and properly, investing in DEIB efforts can also improve a company’s reputation and help attract and retain top talent. It demonstrates a commitment to fairness, equality, and social responsibility, which are increasingly important values for both employees and customers.
The first step in implementing effective DEIB practices is to understand and acknowledge bias (e.g., affinity bias, perception bias, confirmation bias, and group think, to name a few). We all have biases, and in order to create a more inclusive workplace, it’s essential to recognize them and understand how they influence our business decisions, team dynamics and create barriers to equal opportunities for employees. Business leaders should take time to reflect on their biases, examine their decision-making processes, and be willing to learn and grow.
Creating an inclusive hiring process is crucial to attracting and retaining top talent that will build a stronger, diverse workforce at your company. Practices like creating job descriptions free of gendered or other biased language and utilizing job boards that are designed for diverse talent pools are a good start. Ensuring diverse interview panels and making sure your organization has well-trained interviewers and a rubric-supported talent selection process is also key. Examine your hiring process’s accessibility too. If you believe your hiring process could improve in this area, a comprehensive audit of your processes and policies can help you determine where to focus first.
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a great way to create a more inclusive workplace. ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that provide a support network for underrepresented groups. Business leaders should encourage the creation of ERGs, themselves participate as executive sponsors of those groups, and provide them with resources to ensure their success.
Regular DEIB training is a key factor in creating a more inclusive workplace. Business leaders should provide training for all employees, including senior leadership, to ensure that everyone is aware of the company’s commitment to DEIB. Training should provide useful knowledge that is readily applicable by team members in contributing to a respectful workplace. Creating and distributing resources like an inclusive language guide or offering training on how to design inclusive meetings, for example, will empower employees to take important steps in their own DEIB journeys.
Mentorship and sponsorship programs are great ways to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. These programs provide opportunities for underrepresented employees to gain access to senior leadership and career development opportunities. Business leaders should implement mentorship and sponsorship programs and ensure that they are accessible to all employees.
As with any business strategy, creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, or SMART, will increase the likeliness of lasting adoption. Measuring and tracking progress when implementing DEIB practices is no different. When possible, business leaders should collect data on diversity and inclusion metrics such as representation, promotion rates, and employee engagement. This data should be used to make informed decisions and set goals for future progress. To ensure you’re collecting data with employee consent and respect for their privacy, creating opt-out options as opposed to opt-in for employees have shown greater traction in certain organizations.
Business leaders should foster an environment where all employees feel valued and included. Do your employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work? Does your team’s collection of values and expectations allow a work environment where DEIB thrives? Are the practices that guide and inform the actions of all team members creating a psychologically safe environment for all employees? Creating an inclusive culture where trust and respect among team members exists can be done by creating opportunities for employees to share their experiences and ideas, providing feedback and recognition, and creating a sense of belonging.
Finally, it’s crucial to hold leaders accountable for creating a more inclusive workplace. Business leaders should set goals for diversity and inclusion, create DEIB programs that provide resources and support, and hold themselves and their teams accountable for progress. This can be done through regular check-ins, performance evaluations, and transparent reporting. Leaders should also have the courage to welcome feedback from their team members and receive that feedback with curiosity, openness, and deep listening. Their willingness to listen with empathy rather than listening to respond will require emotional intelligence and reflection. The ability to receive critical feedback with grace is where true leadership can be demonstrated, where accountability can take place, and where lasting progress in DEIB is made.
In conclusion, for any business leader committed to creating more diverse and inclusive work environments take heed to these 8 DEIB strategies. Business leaders should take steps to understand and acknowledge their biases, create a diverse and inclusive hiring process, implement ERG programs, provide regular DEIB training, and measure and track progress. They should also create a culture of inclusivity and hold themselves and their teams accountable for their progress. By following these strategies, companies can foster a workplace that values diversity, promotes inclusion, and drives innovation and success.
Ready to accelerate your DEIB initiatives? Read our case study to learn how Blue Beyond’s partnership with a global S&P 500 client helped align and drive DEIB efforts.