Moving the Needle on Your Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Program

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) programs are finally making their way to the top of the executive agendas. As a society we’ve been talking about these programs for years but let’s be honest - progress has been slow. This year has been a year of change and companies are being scrutinized more than ever by media, social media, their customers and shareholders on their DEI programs, leadership team members and workplace culture.

The 2020 protests and movements have shed a new light on the importance of DEI programs and how we need to change. Not change for the sheer vanity of having a program, but a sincere commitment to make things better for future generations. Executives are being asked if they are working on creating a diverse workforce, a diverse leadership team and giving their entire workforce equal opportunities and rewards.

Every company is facing challenges today with cultural and structural changes impacting who they hire, promote and how they make HR decisions impacting employees.

In many organizations DEI seems to fall on HR but it is critical that it is owned by all and embedded in the workplace culture or it simply will not work.

The most successful programs are actually bottom-up grassroots movements championed by employees and supported by the organization. These movements are most successful because they include champions that are invested in making an impact who have the support of their leaders and colleagues when it comes to providing time, resources, tools and funding necessary to enable their success.

Moving the needle does not happen overnight, it’s an organizational mindset shift that takes time and concerted effort. One of the most important steps is making a conscious decision to change the mindset of hiring managers and leaders who can lead by example and educate those around them.

Leaders need to believe that there are benefits and understand how those benefits will not only create a healthy workplace culture but also contribute to the organization’s overall success.

The benefits speak for themselves; a more diverse workforce is more successful because it brings together different mindsets, views, cultures, experiences and educational backgrounds that can best represent clients and consumers to create better and more innovative products and services.

Creating Your Bottom-Up Grassroots Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Program

1. Leaders! Lead by Example

As leaders you can play a major role by educating your workforce and community on the benefits of diverse and inclusive teams, setting diversity goals and most importantly by modeling the behavior you expect from everyone else.

2. Create an Open and Trusting Working Environment

Creating an open and trusting working environment is critical. It is important to create an environment where ideas can be shared openly without interruptions, criticism or judgment. A healthy workplace is one where feedback is encouraged, valued and used to help make decisions.

When it comes to trust, a team member will judge whether or not to share ideas and opinions based on their previous experience with you and how you have handled information or feedback they have given you in the past.

Is their feedback being ignored?

Are they being criticized when giving feedback?