Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in a corporate context is sometimes thought to be synonymous with implicit bias training. This is unfortunate because implicit bias training has been shown to have shortcomings when implemented incorrectly and because training alone isn’t enough to create an inclusive culture in the workplace.
A recent study from LinkedIn found that 50% of workers between 18 and 28 years of age left jobs in tech and IT because the company culture made them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. In spite of the buzz around DEI, companies still regularly fail to be truly inclusive.
While DEI training, if conducted correctly, can help address issues like implicit bias in the workplace, it’s not a silver bullet. Much more than training is needed to foster an inclusive atmosphere in the workplace. Here are some things that you can do to help make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of your company culture:
Practice What You Preach
What concrete steps has your company taken to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? If your company has changed only some of the copy on its website or has issued a diversity statement without action to back it up, it’s not doing enough.
Employees will pick up on the insincerity of the organization’s efforts if they are only surface-level. Consider ensuring that your company reaches out to diverse job candidates, provides equal opportunities for diverse employees to advance professionally, and pays employees equitably. Conducting an audit of your company can help you identify areas to work on. Consider creating a DEI mission statement with concrete policies that signal the sincerity of your company’s commitment.
Establish Clear Lines of Communication
Hiring a diverse workforce isn’t enough if prejudicial behavior is still occurring within the workplace. It’s even worse if there’s no accountability for it. Creating lines of communication for employees to voice their concerns without fear of reprisal is essential for retaining a diverse workforce. This is even more important for remote workforces, where employees might feel a sense of social disconnection. Feedback from diverse employees can also help guide company policies.
Be Transparent About DEI Efforts
If your company has hired a third party to conduct a survey of its members to ensure equitable hiring and promotional practices, it’s important for the entire company to know. If management is taking time to speak one-on-one to get to know what employees think the company can do to make the culture more inclusive, it’s important to publicize the initiative. Make sure that there is transparency, too, about the progress of such efforts and their outcomes.
Ensure Leadership’s Commitment to DEI Initiatives
If senior executives have only a vague understanding of why DEI is important, they might not necessarily support the kinds of policies that make for an inclusive work-culture. Moreover, they’ll fail to signal to lower staff that they are sincere in their efforts. Leaders need to know why DEI matters and recognize the benefits for their workforce.
Educating them about how DEI can benefit their bottom lines, for instance, by helping them retain employees, attract the best candidates, and become more innovative, can encourage them to buy into DEI initiatives.
You might share educational resources, such as the Society for Human Resource Management’s report on the cost of racial injustice, which details the $54 billion costs incurred by anxiety, worry, stress, and frustration over racial discrimination in the workplace. In addition, make sure that leadership understands DEI terminology so that they can communicate with their employees effectively.
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