How to Create Diversity Initiatives That Spark Inspiration in Your Company

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Diversity recruiting should be a core part of your organizational hiring strategy and company philosophy. According to Forbes, “50% of current employees want their company to commit more energy toward promoting diversity.” This means that diversity is a key element of employee engagement and support. Employers need to use Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to promote diversity in the workplace.

It is important to ensure that your management and HR team can build cultural competence and inclusive decision-making while addressing implicit bias when hiring or onboarding new employees.

According to SHRM, there are four main phases when developing diversity initiatives:

1. Data collection and analysis to determine needed change

2. Strategy designed to match business objectives

3. Implementation of initiatives

4. Evaluation and continuing audits of the plan

1. Compile Data and Identify Areas for Change

Employers must first know about their workforce demographics compared to the labor market. Examples of data to collect include demographics such as age, disability, ethnicity/national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, etc. Other measurements such as life experiences and personality, although nontraditional, can be helpful in identifying gaps in your workforce. Once you have collected data, you can begin to analyze areas that need to be changed.

According to Ella Baker, DEI Policy Committee Member at 9Dot Education Solutions, “It was apparent after looking at the data that there was a lack of diversity in our leadership team so our DEI policy team decided to incorporate recruitment goals that better supported diversity, equity, and inclusion at our company. We decided on a goal to increase BIPOC representation by 100%(by when) in leadership positions and worked closely with our recruitment team to push for more diverse candidates.

Data drives everything we do — by conducting gap analyses that cross-reference company data with our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we were able to identify needed changes to our leadership recruitment process”

Example DEI Initiative: Increase BIPOC representation in leadership roles by X% by DATE

2. Address current policies and practices that align (or don’t align) with strategic business goals.

Organizations should consider if any policies or practices need to be changed to align with new diversity and business goals. These include employee referral programs, company events, employee handbooks, unconscious bias, etc. For instance, if a business goal is to improve more diversity and cultural awareness in events, it is necessary to address all factors in the planning process. For example, if you notice that your outside vendor selection process or partnerships are not aligned with the diversity goals you have set, set a targeted goal to improve them.

Example DEI Initiative: Refocus external vendors to be at least % BIPOC owned by DATE

3. Obtain buy-in and implement policies company-wide.

In order to put DEI policies to practice, organizations must first get senior-level buy-in.

According to Jennifer Lenihan, Director of People & Culture at 9Dot Education Solutions, “I met with all the executives to discuss what their DEI goals were for the next 3 years and set goals to increase diversity on their teams.”

Identify how management will be held accountable for supporting the DEI initiatives and what are the long-term benefits to these goals. Some examples of ways for management to be more involved include providing DEI trainings or holding them accountable for reviewing and developing policies within the organization. All of these practices are important to ensure a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Example DEI Initiative: Incorporate X amount of company-wide DEI training (i.e. implicit bias) per PERIOD

4. Measure Outcomes and Review/Adjust

You must measure outcomes in order to fully understand whether or not you were successful. As reported by SHRM, “After a DE&I initiative has been implemented for a period of time, the employer should resurvey employees regarding their perceptions of the company’s efforts.” It is important to look at the data again in 6 months to a year to see what progress has been made.

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