Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts can make your workplace more welcoming and inclusive for workers. They help you tackle unconscious bias and create a better company culture, but these efforts can also have a big impact on your business as a whole. Research shows that companies with diverse leadership are 36% more likely to outperform their competition in profitability. Successful DEI initiatives let you boost work performance by up to 30%.
There are other benefits to DEI company initiatives, too. Diverse companies have 19% higher revenues than their less-diverse counterparts. When polled, 34% of business leaders said improving DEI would offer a more positive workplace while 32% said successful DEI initiatives would improve employee trust and another 30% reported that diversity could make employee wellbeing better.
From business outcomes to creating better companies, DEI company initiatives offer a great return on investment.
What Are DEI Initiatives?
At their simplest, DEI initiatives are the steps and actions you take to implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in your organization. They take you beyond the mindset shifts and discussions that are an essential part of the process.
DEI initiatives mean your company is “walking the talk” and realizing the many benefits of a solid DEI strategy. But not everyone is actively doing this. In one recent poll, respondents said that while their companies have a stated commitment to DEI, one in five employees couldn’t name a person at their organization who showed DEI commitment through their actions. You want your teams and communities to see that not only are you committed to DEI but you’re doing something about it.
Examples of DEI Initiatives
One of the best ways to understand what DEI company initiatives are is to look at some examples. Every organization is different, but many begin with simple initiatives to create measurable change.
- Training programs to teach teams how to build an inclusive workplace
- DEI-friendly benefits, such as generous leave policies, flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, & mental health programs, all of which can help you retain talent
- Supports, such as sponsorships & mentorships, to help workers build their careers & develop leadership skills
- Employee resource groups (ERG), where a group of employees with shared characteristics gather for professional & personal development, & to create change within an organization
- DEI committees or groups that suggest & host DEI events or oversee DEI initiatives
- Company audits designed to uncover any hidden pain points & any potential for change
- Changing company policies to create a more diverse, fair, & welcoming workplace
- Hiring initiatives to recruit & hire more diverse teams
Examples of DEI Initiatives in Higher Education & Schools
Colleges and schools face unique challenges when it comes to DEI. In 2020, there were 6,247 new doctorates graduating from the physical and earth sciences, but only 79 were Black. Other fields of study did not fare better. This is significant because doctorates go on to lead their fields in research and guide new generations of students. Here are some DEI strategies that have worked.
- Supporting grassroots student organizations. Students routinely organize around issues of gender & racial diversity, forming groups & organizations to create change on campus. Students sometimes organize protests around safety for female students, for example, or demand changes to the curriculum. Schools can respond by listening to & supporting these student-led movements.
- Addressing the curriculum. In 2020, nearly three-quarters of college faculty were white. In addition, in 2019, 76% of those involved in the publishing industry were white, 74% were Cis women, 81% were straight, & 89% were non-disabled. Curriculum is often based on tradition, which in turn has been based on who had access to higher education & the financial resources to write, research, & produce scholarly material. Colleges today are seeking to introduce more variety in what is taught & even create entire programs or courses around a diversity of voices.
- Looking at environmental microaggressions. Schools have traditionally named buildings, scholarships, & other parts of the student experience after donors & college founders. Historically, this has meant many buildings & college spaces are named after white men, which is an environmental microaggression towards ethnically diverse groups. At Loyola University’s two campuses, for example, only two buildings are named after people of color. Many universities are tackling this by changing the names of university spaces. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has decided to change the name of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. The building was originally named after William Saunders, a former North Carolina secretary of state & known Ku Klux Klan organizer. Western University is seeking court approval to change scholarships named after Kenneth Hilborn, a former professor who spoke out against feminism, LGBTQ rights, & multiculturalism during his lifetime.
- Creating special programs for students. Some schools & school districts have created programs to help students succeed & access education. For example, The Delaware Department of Education has worked with TeenSHARP to create the Delaware Goes to College Academy (DGCA). This program offers free advice, training, & counseling to low-income students who may need extra support to apply to college.
Examples of Companies With Great DEI Initiatives
Let’s look more closely at companies that have transformed their workplaces with DEI initiatives. While there are many companies around the world making great strides, we chose these successful DEI initiatives specifically for some of their unique ways of promoting change for their employees.
- Johnson & Johnson has 12 ERGs & a Chief Diversity Officer who reports directly to the company Chairman & CEO. The company publishes an annual DEI review. They have also created an immersive education series, “Exploring Our Diversity,” to build cultural understanding among teams. The Johnson & Johnson SkillBridge Program helps military service members transition to a new career & the Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) program invests money in healthcare for people of color.
- Abbot has won recognition for their DEI initiatives, which include the Advancing Professionals Network to support early-career team members & nine other ERGs. The company also offers mentorships & sponsorships to employees.
- Accenture conducts a yearly pay equity review to ensure pay is equal across roles. The company also offers networking options, flexible work, training, & mentoring.
- Mastercard has nine business resource groups or ERGs. They have also created the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, which funds programs, businesses, & research. The company’s DEI efforts have led to initiatives that affect the wider community, too. Touch Card, for example, is a new card standard for those who are partially sighted. Mastercard has also created True Name™, a system to allow transgender & nonbinary persons to display their true names on their credit cards more easily.
- Instacart, in addition to establishing ERGs, also celebrates cultural heritage months across the entire organization with training, social impact projects, & guest speakers. The company celebrates for the entire month, alongside company milestones. This means that throughout Black History Month, for example, Instacart employees can take part in programs celebrating Black history.
What Are the Best DEI Initiatives for Your Organization?
While reading about what other organizations are doing can be inspiring, the real question is: what will work for you? What works for a college or for a tech company in Silicon Valley might not be right for your needs.
The reality is that before you act, you need data. Gathering, analyzing, and benchmarking metrics is the only way to understand where you stand with DEI efforts right now. What really needs to change? This can shape your ideas about what you want to try next. Data also gives you a starting point. You can measure your data six months or a year from now against today’s metrics to see how you’re doing. Are your initiatives giving you a great return on your investment of time and effort, or is it time to start something new?
If you need help gathering data anonymously and also want support in your DEI initiatives, Diversio can help. As a people-first, woman-owned company, Diversio is also the first AI-powered DEI platform in the world. We can not only gather, analyze, and benchmark your data, but our Recommendation Engine™ uses artificial intelligence (AI) to offer field-tested ideas, including initiatives, that are designed to work based on your company’s specific details.
Diversio can even help with specific initiatives. Diversio Training, for example, can help you implement a DEI training program quickly while Diversio Certification can help with hiring initiatives by giving you a way to prove your DEI work.
Of course, as The Diversity Data Experts™, our team is always there to help. Let’s start the conversation today so you can move towards action. Book a demo to experience the difference Diversio can make in your DEI efforts.