15 Nov 8 Tips for DEI in the Workplace
Many organizations are striving to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace culture, as the significant benefits of DEI are broadly shared and accepted.
Meanwhile, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), almost 75% of targeted employees in organizations that have ongoing DEI efforts say that they do not personally benefit from them.
Given the above, we conclude that the common issues with lack of progress in DEI are not due to lack of intentionality or effort, but rather a need for education and support. While it’s only a start, below DEI tips can be helpful for improving DEI in your workplace, if applied consistently.
A refresher on the benefits of DEI.
Impacts of improving DEI in organizations have been studied for decades, resulting in a significant body of work on the topic. We share only a few data points below regarding the key benefits of DEI that most organizations are likely to seek, as reported by industry leaders:
- 8 times higher likelihood of achieving better outcomes
- 6 times higher likelihood to be innovative and agile
- 3 times higher likelihood of retaining millennials for 5+ years
Additionally, over 80% of leaders report that their DEI efforts have improved their branding and reputation both internally and externally. Lastly, it is estimated that DEI investments consistently deliver 8 times Return on Investment (ROI).
Eight (8) Tips for DEI in the Workplace.
We have been applying a structured process to deliver results in DEI and workplace culture across many organizations of various sizes and industries over the past several years. This process can be distilled into eight (8) simple tips below:
- Start with the why!
- Identify the key sponsor, champions and allies.
- Assess the current state, gaps and opportunities.
- Define and assign actions.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
- Provide a psychologically safe environment.
- Measure what matters.
- Learn, adjust, repeat.
While these tips could apply any time an organization embarks on a change initiative, we find that the full set is often not applied consistently when it comes to DEI efforts leading to disappointing outcomes.
Start with the why.
Simon Sinek, the British-American author and speaker, popularized the term “Start with the Why” to help leaders inspire their teams with a sense of purpose. Starting with the why is as important when embarking on efforts to improve workplace culture and DEI as any other initiative. This is accomplished by first clearly defining the organization’s strategic priorities, and then exploring ways in which diversity, equity and inclusion can help accomplish those priorities. Once DEI objectives are identified and clearly linked with the organization’s strategic priorities, the why becomes clear to the leaders and their teams across the organization. This is the single most important tip to align the organization and ensure not only the success, but also the long-term sustainability, of DEI efforts.
Identify key players, assess the current state, and define actions.
Tips two, three and four are the core activities that follow after you have defined the why. It’s critical to ensure the most senior leader in the organization is willing to take on sponsorship of the DEI efforts, and that like-minded champions and allies are identified and actively supporting the sponsor’s vision.
To assess the current state, survey instruments, in-person listening sessions and leadership interviews are often conducted to identify the gaps and opportunities.
Often DEI champions and allies, who may form a DEI Council or leadership group are involved in the next step of identifying and clearly assigning actions that are consistent with the DEI objectives identified earlier.
Communication and psychological safety.
While it’s important for leadership to communicate the why, the current state and actions to undertake, it is as important to ensure there are open lines of communication for team members to provide their feedback and any additional inputs they may have. It is especially important to hear from team members from traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities whose unique needs and expectations may not have been taken into account.
This is why creating an environment that is psychologically safe is so important. Without such an environment, there will be little to no engagement, resulting in disappointing results and unmet expectations.
Measure, track and adjust.
The reason Peter Drucker’s “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” is one of the most famous business quotes ever is because it is absolutely true. It’s simply impossible to make significant improvements in the absence of measurements and data-driven adjustments. DEI is no different.
It’s important that what you start measuring often evolves as the organization grows and evolves. To effectively measure and get insights that can help adjust as needed, it is important to have a comprehensive menu of Key Performance indicators (KPIs) that can measure all aspects of the employee experience through their lifecycle with the organization, starting from their early interactions as a candidate with the organization.
Categories of KPIs that an organization may need to measure and track over a period of time often include representation, compensation and benefits, hiring and retention, as well as growth and development.