Now that we understand how critical it is to have Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace, we must know how to bring it into our organisations. What are the best practices that organisations can adopt to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion?
As we understand, the process has to begin right from when employees are hired. Then it has to be taken care of as they go up the corporate ladder for remuneration, benefits, opportunity, initiative and a host of other things. Also, the initiative for this has to be taken by those in power, those with the ability, the authority and the means to push for change in the organisation.
But before the process is set in motion, the organisation’s culture has to be considered to bring the necessary changes to make it inclusive and secure.
Here are some of the practices that can help in making diversity, inclusion and equity (DEI) an integral part of an organisation.
1. Develop an inclusive company culture with particular attention to unconscious bias.
The starting point for any change is the organisation itself. Before you get in people, you have to ensure that the people already there are open and receptive to the change, to the idea of having others who may not be like them. So whatever training, counselling or talking needs to be done should be done.
The culture has to be such that everyone feels included and valued. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of unconscious bias, which can creep up in conversations .in behaviours because it is unconscious. The training can help with overt forms of discrimination, but the unconscious bias can be more dangerous and so needs extra attention.
Also Read: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Part 3
Changing the culture will be a slow process, but it has to be initiated at some point.
Once the process begins, it will make people step out of their comfort zone, out of that familiar group and seek others who could have valuable inputs to share.
Every action in the organisation should be judged by looking at ‘Who benefits from it”, and ‘Who is harmed’. Once these questions can be answered satisfactorily, it means that the culture is getting to be inclusive.
People should be encouraged to look beyond their kind of people when they are looking for perspectives and viewpoints. Differences should be welcome and celebrated.
2. Make DEI a part of your company’s DNA
The desire and conviction for making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a part of the culture has to be enshrined in the company’s vision and mission, which is visible on the company’s documents and website. This admission and acknowledgement are what will make people believe you and trust you. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion cannot be a cosmetic change if you are serious about it. Access to diverse people and talent will be much easier once you do that.
3. Offer Diversity, Equity and Inclusion education, training and coaching.
This is critical as, many times, the bias is unintentional and unconscious, but if left unchecked, it can lead to harm. Therefore training and coaching for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion should be a part of the organisation’s culture. For example, you could invite speakers and conduct events, workshops and training sessions to make people aware of their biases and how they can get rid of them. A bias is like a disease that, if not treated in time, can be detrimental to the company’s health.
4. Set up a fair hiring process
Your hiring process has to be fair and unbiased and has to move from culture fit to culture contribution. It has to be an inclusive process that can attract people across cultures and divides. You may have to revise it to bring in these elements. The hiring process has to take stock of the communities that are under-represented and then altered accordingly. Hire people who contribute to the culture and not just add to the existing culture.
Also Read: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Part 2
For this, the following points may be kept in mind:
Rewrite job descriptions to ensure that nobody is left out inadvertently; avoid gender codes or terms that could spell bias or discrimination.
Call for blind resumes which do not require any information about names, addresses or any other information that could lead to bias and may be irrelevant from the job perspective.
Conduct structured interviews so that people are asked similar questions, making hiring easier and non-biased.
5. Pay attention to pay equity
This is another critical element. Pay inequity can create biases. Therefore, this should be kept in mind during hiring and promotions. Have a compensation strategy in place which takes into account the market trends. At no stage should people be made to feel unequal or not up to the mark.
6. Sponsor and encourage employee resource groups
These are highly essential for fostering the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion culture. ERGs are groups that build connections between employees with shared traits, interests and issues. They can greatly help and support large organisations where people in the minority could feel lost. These groups could be a great way to onboard new employees and give them a sense of belonging. For instance, there could be an ERG for women, blacks and so on.
7. Encourage team member feedback
When employees know that their voices matter and will be heard, they will get that sense of belongingness and inclusion. Therefore, it is essential to open up lines of communication. Employees should be encouraged to share their feedback, views, and opinions on the company policies and strategies. They could do this by voicing their opinion, through a suggestion box, or any other way the organisation wants. It is not only essential to encourage feedback but also to make it known to the employees that action has been taken. This will encourage them to open up and foster a sense of safety, value and inclusivity.
8. Set up performance indicators measuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts
You have to remember that what gets measured gets done. Therefore it is essential to have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)to measure performance and make people accountable. Goals for representation, talent acquisition, retention and promotion should be set up and measured at regular intervals.
Also Read: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Part 1
9. Conduct periodic reviews
Take a periodic relook at employed benefits and company policies. This is again very important. For instance, something like the company calendar may not be fair if t includes holidays for Christians and not for others. Give the benefit where it is needed. So if mothers need, then they may be given flexible working hours or the option to work from home. That will promote equity and foster inclusivity.
10. Foster a climate of transparency
The organisation should have a climate of transparency and openness. It should be where you share all data and information on promotions, representations, successes and challenges. When you do that, it means you have nothing to hide, which will help build trust in the organisation.
Despite following these practices, organisations must remember that working towards being a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace is not a one-time occurrence; it has to be continuous and ongoing. It has to do with changing the thought pattern, the ethos and then embracing and imbibing it. Diversity, inclusion and equity are about changing the mindset.