In the wake of increasing social unrest in 2020, many companies have ramped up their emphasis on DEI, recognizing the need to ensure an inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees. But how do organizations turn intent into action and build truly meaningful change instead of hollow commitments to DEI?
To move beyond DEI as a buzzword, companies need to understand why DEI matters to their business and what actions they can take to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture that will last.
A diverse, equitable and inclusive culture is linked to greater productivity, innovation, employee engagement and retention—not to mention a positive reputation among potential consumers and clients. An environment where employees feel they can’t speak up and bring their true selves to work breeds dissatisfaction and low morale. Worse, a workplace where employees fear discrimination and worry about being subject to racist behavior leads to absenteeism, jeopardizing the employee’s performance and feeling of psychological safety. (See SHRM article “The Cost of Racial Injustice” for details.)
Building a DEI culture is both a moral and business imperative. But how can your organization create lasting growth and change in this area? You can’t just look at diversity targets—hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t necessarily lead to more inclusivity. It’s where you should start, but don’t focus solely on the pipeline. Think about your employees’ collective experience and work on everyone owning the workplace culture. Everyone needs to be invested in making the culture better, which will foster a greater feeling of belonging.
Another aspect of creating a DEI-driven culture is embedding DEI in all areas of the business. Recognizing employees’ contributions to DEI and incorporating them into the company’s larger business strategy will help drive change. This needs to happen at all levels of the organization.
So you know why DEI is important and that you need to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture—but how do you do it? Here are some best practices you can follow to build and promote DEI at your organization.
As you work on implementing strategies to build a DEI-driven culture, remember that internal communications can help you engage leaders and educate employees, fostering a greater sense of belonging. Here are a few ways comms can get DEI off the ground:
DEI initiatives often fail despite good intentions. Building a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture requires resilience, dedication, curiosity and empathy. By seeking out underrepresented stories and perspectives and celebrating unique experiences, companies can create a strong sense of belonging among its communities.
Author Bio: Britt is a Consulting Writer at PartnerComm, Inc., who has over 15 years’ experience as a communication and training specialist. She helps clients in all areas of employee communication, developing and executing strategies to support their business objectives. She leads projects ranging from benefits communication to healthcare marketing to website development.