Have you ever wondered what makes some DE&I strategies more effective than others?
By now we’ve all heard the advantages of diverse and inclusive work environments. We know businesses who aren’t embracing inclusion in a meaningful way are being left behind, both as employers and marketplace performers. So how do we begin to craft diversity and inclusion strategies for our organisations that actually work?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a successful diversity and inclusion strategy, but here are some top tips to ensure your efforts genuinely attract, support and allow underrepresented groups to thrive in your workforce:
DO start by collecting ALL the data you can
If you’re considering crafting a diversity strategy for your business, knowing where to start can seem like an overwhelming task.
But like any journey, you need to understand where you are before you can start plotting a way forward.
We have access to more data than ever before to measure what’s happening in our companies. And more channels of communication to ask deeper questions. Go beyond an audit of the race, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality and disability already within your organisation. Investigate the family status, the languages spoken, the education levels, personality types and other defining life experiences.
From there, encourage your teams and employees to express their needs, to point out their barriers and what DE&I would look like to them. They can do this through regular feedback events or town hall-style meetings, or through one-on-one sessions where they have a safe space to share their feedback.
By opening up dialogues your employees are going to do most of the hard work for you.
DO implement strategies that cover the entire employment lifecycle
An inclusion strategy should be (by definition) inclusive. Inclusive in regard to the respect and opportunities given to every employee, and inclusive across every aspect employment lifecycle. Yet too often, DE&I strategies are mistakenly deployed and targeted exclusively within the recruitment stage of an employee’s experience.
Yes of course it is important to have a strong recruiting selection and screening strategy free from biases for/against any individual or group of society and promotes a broader range of skills and experiences in your teams. But your inclusion strategies shouldn’t end as soon as they’ve signed the employee contract.
Inclusion is ongoing — not a once-off training video.
Similarly, for real change to happen, every employee whether they’re a temporary intern, a senior manager or the CEO, needs to buy into the value of inclusion — both intellectually and emotionally.
Visionary speeches and glossy corporate brochures have little impact alone. The CEO and other senior leaders should be visible at workshops, training programmes and during Q&A sessions on diversity. If diversity goals are set top-down, it is more likely they can be implemented company-wide.
DO examine your language
To be effective recruiters and diversity practitioners, we need to stay abreast of new words, concepts, and trends impacting our work and the people we work with. Language has the ability to build relationships and forge connections, but it’s equally capable of creating barriers and impacting someone’s sense of belonging.
Ensuring all your initiatives, campaigns, and marketing collateral are written to reflect the world around us takes a precise use of language and means acknowledging the intersectionality of people’s identities.
What is intersectionality? It describes the multiple layers of people’s identity. Take for instance the term “colourblindness” — a practice in which racial identity is avoided — this term denies the intersectionality of people identity by ignoring how perceptions, thoughts and experiences are shaped by identity. Like many other factors – gender, religion, socio-economic status – race is a basic ingredient to the make-up of our being, whether or not you consciously acknowledge its role in your life.
The idea is if you start with this idea of intersectionality, you embrace the complexity of your employees, and your strategies no longer focus on quotas and tokenism, but by the question ‘who might this phrasing be excluding?’
DON’T aim for Equality – Equity should be the goal
Another nuance of precise language lies in the definition of the ‘E’ in your DE&I strategy.
While the terms ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ may sound similar, the implementation of one versus the other can lead to dramatically different outcomes for underrepresented people.
What’s the difference? Equality means every individual or group of people is given the exact same resources or opportunities. Whereas Equity recognises the different circumstances of each person, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed for everyone to reach an equal outcome.
Think of it like feeding a tyrannosaurus rex, a tortoise and a gecko lizard. Equality would give each reptile the exact same meal of the exact same size. Whereas Equity understands the dietary needs of each individual species and gives them each what they need to survive and thrive.
There are no quick fixes to creating effective DE&I strategies
Diversity and inclusion aren’t just marketing trends like adopting Tik Tok or Snapchat into your recruitment strategy. These strategies are vital to shifting systemic disparities. This requires a willingness to continually examine and address the data you collect, the people involved and the language you use.
If you need some guidance shaping an inclusive screening process, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.