The experts at Diversio have spent years talking to organizations about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies. One thing has stuck out to us: many companies, government agencies, and portfolios start with an intention to change, but in many cases immediately run into the question of what to do.
The business leaders we’ve spoken with often describe taking an ad hoc approach at first, trying out multiple inclusion strategies, generally with limited results. There are so many strategies and ideas to try, it’s no wonder leaders report to us that they have a hard time picking the right solutions.
So how can you adopt inclusion strategies in the workplace that will actually work? How can you move towards a measurable, effective strategy that creates a welcoming workplace where everyone can thrive?
Inclusion Strategies That Work
Before you adopt any inclusion strategies in the workplace, you need data. What we’ve found is that an “ad hoc” approach to DEI usually stems from an incomplete picture of the workplace. If you don’t know how diverse your workplace really is and where your pain points are, how can you know what to do next? And how can you measure how well those strategies work if you don’t have a baseline for comparison?
Once you have an understanding of diversity at your company, you can try these field-tested DEI strategies.
Words are loaded with meaning. They shape not only what we say, but how we think. For example, studies have shown that when speakers used male-first language — such as saying he when referring to leaders in general — listeners interpreted such language in a male-biased way. They pictured a male leader, in other words, instead of gender-neutral leadership.
The good news is that we can consciously work to change our language. Organizations can create zero-tolerance policies for sexist and racist language. They can create style sheets to help team members use more neutral and inclusive language in writing and in speech.
We all have unconscious biases. Our brains are wired for affinity bias, for example, where we tend to prefer and trust people who are similar to us. For our ancient ancestors, sticking with the familiar meant safety. Unfortunately, today it can mean subtle forms of bias and discrimination.
Our minds’ tendency toward bias is compounded by systemic inequities. Many of us grow up hearing biased comments or watching media portrayals that depict people as anything but equal. Without realizing it, we can normalize and even carry some of these ideas right into adulthood and into the workplace.
Strong DEI training is about undoing some of this conditioning. Without pointing fingers, training allows us to see each of our biases and work to consciously correct them. It teaches us how to create fairer, more inclusive workplaces and how to treat each other with more compassion and care. Leadership can benefit from this sort of training because they lead the culture and decision-making. However, everyone in your organization can benefit from diversity training, to learn how to contribute to an equitable and inclusive environment.
Creating an Inclusive, Accessible Environment
Look around you. The physical parts of your workplace, from your chairs to your computer monitors, all impact how inclusive your workplace is. Environmental microaggressions, such as narrow doorways that limit the movement of employees using wheelchairs or buildings named only after white, male community leaders, can create a workplace where some team members don’t feel valued.
Go through your workplace with a critical eye. Are all tables for team meetings accessible for workers and clients who use wheelchairs? Do you offer quiet workspaces or noise-canceling headphones for neurodiverse workers? Have you explored and activated all the accessibility features — such as closed captioning or voice recognition — for the tech you use? Do your employees know how to access these features? Do you have bathrooms that are welcoming for non-binary workers and visitors? Have you surveyed your team to find out what changes they feel are important in your workplace?
Mentorships & Sponsorships
Mentoring can be especially beneficial for BIPOC, female, and LGBTQ+ team members because it offers access to career-advancing networks and supports that have traditionally been denied to some employees. Mentoring can involve giving feedback, coaching, and offering advice.
Sponsorship happens when leaders use their positions of power to advocate for team members. It can involve promotions, increasing a person’s visibility in the workplace, or creating connections between the person being sponsored and others in the industry.
Employee Resource Groups
Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs for short, allow team members to meet and discuss their needs and experiences. With a budget and direct connection to leadership, ERGs allow employees to advocate for themselves while mentoring newer workers. An ERG for women, for example, or for workers with disabilities, can discuss best practices at work or can provide a safe space for camaraderie and professional development.
Mission, Vision, & Values
If your organization has a written mission, a company vision, or values statements, review them for reference to DEI. Is diversity, equity, and inclusion part of the core of your business? If not, would revising these statements help DEI show up more consistently across your organization and in every part of your operations and work?
Finding Field-Tested Inclusion Strategies Right for Your Organization
Thinking about the types of DEI strategies that have worked for other companies is a great start. It can get you inspired. But what you really need are strategies that will work for your unique needs, teams, and pain points. Diversio can help you take the guesswork out of inclusion strategies in the workplace, thanks to our AI-powered DEI platform — the first of its kind in the world. Our mission is to help transform workplaces with a people-first approach.
When you partner with Diversio, we can gather, analyze, and benchmark DEI data at your organization. If you’re a portfolio, we can measure your entire portfolio’s diversity and inclusion risk. If you’re a company, Diversio for Companies allows you to benchmark your DEI data for your specific industry, giving you an accurate picture.
Many companies who work with us find that they have workers who are LGBTQ+ but aren’t out at work. Or employees living with chronic or mental illness who do not disclose their diagnosis. Our anonymous system allows team members to feel safe in sharing, so you can see who works at your company, how diverse various departments are, and what you can do to support your teams.
With the Diversio Recommendation Engine™, you are presented with field-tested inclusion strategies, based on your organization’s pain points. You learn the exact next steps to address the needs of your teams, so you’re never guessing what to do next or find yourself trying an idea “just because.”
To see how Diversio can help you find not only the right DEI strategies but also a DEI plan that helps you get measurable results, book a demo today. We’d be happy to discuss your organization’s needs.