Implementing Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices in Your Workplace: A Complete Guide

The need to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts has long been clear, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it even more apparent — and urgent.

Fully embracing DEI means doing more than just hiring people from a variety of backgrounds. A comprehensive commitment to DEI spans every part of the employee lifecycle.

From attracting talent all the way through to succession planning, opportunities exist for companies to think bigger and better about DEI and make a true impact on employees.

Workplace diversity and inclusion are vital for building a thriving, innovative company culture. But knowing the best practices that truly drive results can be challenging.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore proven strategies for championing diversity and cultivating inclusion at every level of your organization. Follow these best practices to create a respectful, welcoming environment where all employees can contribute their unique talents and perspectives.

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter

Let’s first examine why diversity and inclusion should be priorities for your company.

Diverse teams drive better business results. Companies with greater diversity are more innovative, more profitable, and better positioned to succeed in a global marketplace. Employees with different backgrounds bring fresh ideas and challenge status quo thinking.

Inclusion boosts employee satisfaction and retention, Inclusive cultures make everyone feel valued and able to perform at their best, Employees who feel a sense of belonging are happier at work and more likely to stay long-term

It expands your talent pool Removing bias from hiring and promotions opens up opportunities for outstanding candidates who may have previously been overlooked

It reflects your community and customers. Your workforce should represent the diversity of the communities and customers you serve. Multicultural consumers gravitate towards brands that align with their values and reflect people like them.

It’s simply the right thing to do. Building a culture of equality demonstrates your commitment to ethics and social progress. Diverse, inclusive companies set the standards others aspire to follow.

Now let’s explore best practices to turn these ideals into reality.

Best Practices for Advancing Diversity

Making progress on diversity requires looking at where bias could be preventing qualified people from entering and rising through your organization.

Rewrite Job Descriptions and Postings to Remove Unconscious Bias

Subtle language choices in job materials can repel diverse candidates before they even apply. Scrutinize these materials to eliminate bias.

  • Use clear, inclusive language – for example “people focused” instead of “outgoing”
  • Only list required skills to avoid discouraging applicants
  • Highlight opportunities for growth and learning

Widen Your Candidate Pool

To get diverse candidates in the door, expand your search beyond the usual channels like employee referrals.

  • Partner with diversity-focused hiring firms
  • Build relationships with professional associations for underrepresented groups
  • Promote openings on diversity-oriented job boards
  • Recruit at colleges serving minority populations
  • Offer employee referral bonuses for diverse candidates

Rethink Requirements and Qualifications

Do your job requirements unintentionally filter out applicants based on demographics like age, race, disability status or educational background? Re-examine to ensure you are only screening for skills and capabilities needed to succeed.

Standardize and Structure the Interview Process

Informal, unstructured interviews are prone to unconscious bias. Create a uniform process using clear evaluation metrics applied consistently across all candidates.

Train hiring managers to spot and manage their own biases when assessing applicants. Have them articulate objective reasons candidates were selected or passed over.

Make Diversity Part of the Company Brand

Highlight your commitment to diversity and inclusion in employer branding materials and website careers sections. Feature employee testimonials and images that showcase the diversity of your workforce.

Publicizing your efforts attracts more applicants from underrepresented groups who value diversity and equity.

Best Practices for Building Inclusion

Getting diverse talent in the door is just the first step. You must also cultivate an inclusive culture where they can thrive.

Lead from the Top

Executives and leaders must fully own inclusion as a business priority. They should regularly communicate its importance, hold themselves and others accountable, and link inclusion to concrete business outcomes.

Establish Employee Resource Groups

ERGs unite employees based on shared identities, backgrounds, and experiences. Offer funding and executive sponsors for groups focused on women, LGBTQ employees, veterans, working parents, employees with disabilities, and cultural/racial/ethnic identities.

Make Managers Accountable for Inclusion

Hold managers responsible for fostering inclusive, welcoming teams. Include inclusion-related criteria like cross-cultural mentoring and participation in ERGs in manager performance reviews.

Offer Regular Inclusion and Bias Training

Everyone has unconscious biases. Train employees to recognize their own biases and learn skills to overcome them. Refreshers keep inclusion top of mind.

Build a Speak-Up Culture

Employees should feel safe reporting inappropriate behavior without fear of retaliation. Communicate safe, anonymous options for reporting issues. Investigate thoroughly and share resolutions to rebuild trust.

Mentor and Sponsor Rising Diverse Talent

Partner emerging leaders from underrepresented groups with executive mentors. Sponsor their visibility to senior management. Onboarding and leadership development programs should be inclusive.

Support Employee Resource Groups

Provide dedicated budget and leadership support for ERGs. Compensate chairs for their efforts. Encourage broad participation from all employee groups, not just those featured.

Spotlight Diversity in Company Communications

Consistently feature diverse employees, customers and communities in your content and campaigns. But avoid tokenism by fully integrating multicultural representation throughout.

Make Events and Activities Inclusive

Review company events and programs to ensure they don’t unintentionally exclude some groups. Consider aspects like cost, location accessibility, dietary options, alcohol-free environments, childcare support etc.

Analyze Pay Equity

Conduct internal pay audits to uncover any demographic-based compensation gaps. Adjust salaries and practices to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Extend Inclusion to Customers and Clients

Look for ways to make products, services and customer interactions as inclusive as your internal culture. Form customer advisory panels to gain insights from diverse users.

Reap the Rewards of Diversity and Inclusion

Committing to these diversity and inclusion best practices requires dedication and self-examination. But the rewards are immense. You’ll build a vibrant, equitable culture where employees feel valued and empowered to do their best work. The result? An innovative, agile company that can capitalize on the strengths of all talent to drive business success.

diversity and inclusion best practices

Lean on learning and development

  • Provide consistent training, content, and conversations to teach and reinforce the importance of DEI — generally and to your organization.
  • Bring awareness to everyday DEI topics: current events, global/local news, teachable moments, or company milestones.
  • Task a DEI or inclusivity ERG with identifying and educating colleagues on how to use inclusive terminology in your product, communications, etc.

Facilitate inclusive onboarding

  • Include an introductory training session explaining DEI definitions and efforts at your company.
  • Highlight portions of your company handbook or policies that are specific to DEI.
  • Connect new hires with employee resource groups (ERGs) or other support groups.

What Diversity & Inclusion is REALLY About | Simon Sinek

Does the business case for Diversity & Equity & Inclusion still exist?

Although the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is stronger than ever, many companies’ progress has stalled. A systematic approach and bold action can help.

What are organizational objectives for Diversity & Inclusion?

According to L&D and HR leaders, the primary organizational objective for diversity, inclusion, and belonging eforts is alignment with organizational values (53%), beating out talent recruitment and retention (18%), and achievement of business results (13%).

How can organizations improve diversity and inclusion in organizational life?

Summary. A Stanford and Harvard professor convened a symposium on what’s actually working to improve diversity and inclusion in organizational life. In this article, David Pedulla summarizes the main findings. First, organizations should set goals, collect data, and hold people accountable for improving diversity within the organization.

Is focusing on Diversity & Equity a good thing?

November 15, 2021 Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) have rightfully risen to the top of organizational priorities. Many organizations recognize that focusing on DE&I is simply the right thing to do, but research also finds that prioritizing it is good for business.

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