What is DE&I?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) refers to programs and policies dedicated to a more equitable future of work. Having an organizational and membership strategy that includes a DEI strategy is a priority for many organizations today, and we understand why!
Having a strategic DEI management plan within your organization can make the most of its diversity by creating an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable culture and environment. Diversity can create and foster greater innovation and inclusion is what enables organizations to capitalize on this potential. Equity refers to fair treatment in access, opportunity, and advancement for individuals. Creating a strategic DEI plan works to identify and eliminate barriers to fair treatment for disadvantaged groups.
A DEI strategy requires preparation, thought, and time. Your DEI initiatives should go beyond checking a box, it should be an initiative that your organization is passionate about and committed to fostering. It is a living, breathing effort that needs to be continuously cultivated and evolved. Your first steps include knowing the current state of the organization. This can be done in a variety of ways, but having an annual assessment that asks both the members and staff of the organization, is a reliable way to reveal the different challenges each side faces.
Tips to improve your DEI efforts
Form a committee
Before introducing organization-wide diversity efforts, senior-level staff and the board of directors should learn as much as possible about implementing a DEI policy. During this time, the challenges each side faces should be taken into consideration, and the committee should also identify internal and external resources that they can rely on for support and assistance.
Define your mission and goals
The committee should work to clearly articulate the philosophy and vision about diversity, inclusion, and equity and the connection to the mission of the organization. What is it that you want to DEI plan to accomplish? What are any problem areas that you want to make sure that you address? It’s important to remain authentic and always deliver clarity and purpose.
Use Inclusive Language
When well-intentioned organizations try to incorporate the right tone, a culturally sensitive voice, or appropriate word choice into their DEI efforts, some organizations are more successful than others.
Language is one of the most powerful tools that we have as humans! When used well, it helps create common understanding. Using poor word choice can have an adverse impact on employees and members, muddle your brand, or even lead to an industry crisis. The words we choose to use make the difference between forging positive connections or creating distance in our personal and professional lives.
Amplify all voices
Each of us bears the responsibility to help everyone’s voice be heard. Executives and fellow coworkers can help marginalized people tell their stories by giving them a safe space to be heard and helping them to elevate their voices.By creating psychological safety in an inclusive culture, organizations can help ensure people feel safe sharing their thoughts and feelings, in a safe and respected space. A safe space is realized through trust, understanding, empathy and by setting an example.
Never stop learning
Be humble. Be curious. Ask questions, listen, and do the work. Reach out to your employees regularly for their input. Make feedback a regular, but informal exchange, and most importantly, always make yourself available. Pay attention to conversations that are being avoided and understand why your employees are remaining silent. Your efforts will certainly be noticed and appreciated.
An effective DEI strategy requires a lot of thought and preparation. As your organization continues to grow and learn, your strategy will be consistently evolving. Putting in the effort now will have long lasting results!