11 Ways to Apply DEI to Your Business
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is not just a passing fad, but a continuous commitment which will not only benefit your employees and applicants, but also your business. By adopting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive space, you are guaranteed to have access to many talents from different cultures and backgrounds (recruitment advantage), foster an environment that encourages creativity, innovation and productivity, and drive improved financial and business outcomes.
DEI’s Current Status
Companies have come a long way in their efforts to advocate for DEI since the 2020 racial protests. However, while many have made the commitment, some are yet to make good on their promises. This resulted in the so-called “knowledge-action gap” which shows that, although 80% agreed that diversity is important to an organization, only 38% actually took action.
Another report shows that only 12% and 10% of support staff positions are occupied by African Americans and Hispanic Americans, respectively. Meanwhile, they only occupy 2% and 3% of executive positions. This glaringly proves that as you go up each level, diversity becomes sparser, if not non-existent.
When it comes to gender diversity and inclusion, statistics show that only about 56% of adult women in the U.S. are working or actively applying for work. You’d think this is a good thing since it accounts for a majority, but this number has not had a significant increase since 1990, and men’s labor participation rate is about 10 points higher.
A study by the UCLA Williams Institute brings forward the LGBTQ+ group’s experience in workplace discrimination, where 46% of them affirmed that they have experienced unfair treatment at work at some point of their lives.
Global DEI Charter for Change
At Cannes Lions, DEI took the spotlight as one of the highlights of the festival this year. Here, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) launched a Global DEI Charter for Change which calls on global organizations to commit to step up their DEI initiatives to provide a better experience for the 1 in 7 advertising industry members who say that lack of diversity and inclusion can make them leave their company or the industry.
WFA’s Charter for Change lays down 11 main action areas divided into three facets: actions for leadership, actions to support the underrepresented groups, and action on mental health. Although, intended for the advertising industry, these all-encompassing DEI points can serve as the backbone of your company’s initiatives. Here’s how:
Actions for Leadership
- Create a diverse leadership team.
This is where organizations’ attempts at diversity fail. They pull up data which confirms that their workforce have equal amounts of men and women, LGBT and cisgender, and demonstrate how multi-cultural they are, and think that their work is done. They don’t dive deeper into the data nor ask whether their leadership is similarly diverse.
By creating a diverse management team, all staff members will feel represented and similarity bias will be avoided on every point of decision, whether it be recruitment, promotion, or development.
- Understand and democratize your company’s data.
Go deeper into your data. Identify who are being promoted to each level or being given merit increases. You can also take a look at performance reviews, and find out what holds a particular group back, barriers, if any, and biases that should be avoided by the management.
- Create transparent policies and publish them.
When you have the data that you need in hand, start drafting anti-discrimination policies which should define guidelines, escalation procedures, and disciplinary actions in case of non-compliance.
These policies should then be cascaded to all executives and staff members by emailing it to them, publishing it through your internal channels, creating simplified posters about it, or organizing a lunch and learn session.
- Create psychological safety and support.
Cultivate an environment that makes everyone feel respected and safe to speak their minds. It is also crucial to have an institutionalized process to hear anti-discriminatory grievances.
Actions to Support Underrepresented Groups
Employees of all ages, young and old, should be given opportunities for growth and development through continued coaching and mentoring. There may be middle-aged employees who are looking for a career shift; give them cross trainings to see their potential in any of your other departments; or a young professional who wants to upskill; conduct a training needs analysis and have them join a training program.
Promotions should also be performance-based. There’s no reason to turn down a young employee or one who’s nearing his or her 60s for a management position, on account of age, despite their stellar performance and growth.
Adopt flexible policies that take into account the circumstances of employees who have caregiving responsibilities. This can be in the form of benefits like caregiver leaves to take care of a family member or partner with serious health conditions, or emergency monetary support.
Ensure that women are given the same prospects as men and address salary discrepancies, if any. Moreover, provide flexible working conditions for women to feel valued and supported in their responsibilities and undertakings outside of work.
4. Race and Ethnicity
Design programs that support and empower ethnic minorities. You can also provide recruitment opportunities for talents lurking within these groups and even expand your reach by recruiting them as remote workers.
5. Disability and Neurodivergence
During the onboarding process, identify and accommodate your new hire’s accessibility needs and strive to design a workplace that support mobility for people with disability.
6. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Foster a culture that embraces and allows the LGBTQ+ community to be themselves. Make room for self-expression in your dress code and ensure that same-sex couples enjoy the same benefits given to heterosexual couples like parental leave, bonuses, and health insurance.
Action on Mental Health
According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2022 mental health workplace benefits study, burnout, exhaustion, and hopelessness are more common than before.
Mental health is an important aspect of employees’ well-being, even more so for those who are members of the underrepresented groups who have to deal with discrimination and prejudice. By making mental health resources accessible, you are creating a safe space for them to be transparent about their issues, anxiety, and depression and to help them navigate through them.
You can take action by:
- Spreading awareness;
- Training your managers in how to respond to mental health issues;
- Providing workplace counseling.
Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is a lot of work and doesn’t end with recruitment, that part’s easy. What’s really challenging is being able to create a culture deeply ingrained with values that shy away from bias and provides opportunities regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, and personal circumstances.
With the WFA’s 11 action areas, you now have a head start with your campaign for workplace DEI. Talk to us today and we’ll help you plan out the rest.