The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are well-documented, but how do you go about improving diversity and inclusiveness for your business?
Like any major project, it’s important to take a methodical approach. These changes don’t happen overnight. You need to dedicate time and resources to the process of improving diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.
If you’re looking to transform your business into one that fully realizes its potential for diversity and inclusiveness, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Once you’ve decided that your workplace needs more diversity and inclusivity, it’s important to make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page. Hold a meeting with all staff members and let them know that leadership has identified a need to improve in this area. Make this a collaborative meeting where anyone can share their thoughts. This is a great opportunity to begin fostering a culture of inclusivity, where people of all backgrounds can share their unique perspectives.
This process will allow leadership to gain insight into possible areas where the business could improve diversity and inclusiveness.
Once you’ve communicated with your team, it’s time to begin analyzing your workplace and identifying weak areas and blind spots in diversity and inclusiveness.
A diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) survey is a great way to begin this process. A DEI survey will give you an idea of the diversity that currently exists within your company and areas where the company can improve. This survey should be comprehensive and measure both the demographics of the workplace and the sentiments of employees.
Areas to address for the demographic portion of the survey may include:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Disability status
Use a 5-point system (1 being strongly disagree and 5 strongly agree) for the survey section on employee sentiments toward diversity and inclusion. These should be statements rather than questions.
Here are a few examples of DEI survey prompts:
- I believe [company] is a comfortable workplace for people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, and disability statuses.
- I feel comfortable talking with supervisors about issues regarding diversity and inclusiveness.
- I think [company] offers equal opportunities for advancement among employees, regardless of their background.
- I feel respected by my coworkers and supervisors at [company].
- I think the leadership at [company] values diversity and inclusiveness.
Finally, it’s good to have a section with some open-ending questions, where employees will have a chance to give more detailed thoughts. Here are some ideas for questions in this section:
- Have you ever felt discriminated against for your race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or any other aspect of your background while working at [company]?
- Have you experienced any type of harassment based on your identity, such as racist jokes or inappropriate sexual comments?
Consider putting together a diversity leadership team that can work together to write the DEI survey. This team should have representation from different races, genders, and sexual orientations, if possible. This will make your survey more comprehensive and representative of the concerns of these different groups.
A thorough diversity and inclusion training program is a key step in this process. This program should address all employees and all the various aspects of improving diversity and inclusion.
Some key points to focus on include unconscious bias, embracing diversity, the value of different perspectives, and identifying and avoiding microaggressions. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to these programs. Business owners should evaluate the unique aspects of their workplaces and come up with a program that directly addresses the particular needs of the organization.
Hiring a professional diversity consultant can help make this process much easier. Virtually all businesses can benefit from an outside perspective on matters of diversity and inclusiveness.
Any organization looking to improve diversity and inclusion is bound to have blind spots. Your in-house team may be able to identify areas of improvement, but there still may be problem areas that you’re not aware of.
An experienced DEI consultant has already worked with countless other businesses and will be able to better identify areas for improvement based on their experience. Additionally, a consultant can help your leadership team draw up and enact a methodical process for getting your workplace’s diversity and inclusion to where it needs to be.
Be patient and remember that this is a process. A DEI consultant won’t simply visit the office for a day and solve all your problems. This will be a long-term project that will require collaboration with leadership and employees.
It may be challenging at times, but remember that your business and employees will benefit in innumerable ways once you’ve managed to make your workplace more diverse and inclusive.