What Do All Successful Diversity & Inclusion Programs Have in Common?

Many organizations have Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs to create more inclusive, diverse workplaces. After all, there are economic and cultural benefits to companies with more diverse companies, as employers can enjoy varied opinions and viewpoints and attract a wide range of customers and clients, who may better be able to see themselves reflected in a diverse company. For many organizations, diversity and inclusion efforts are also a way to make a global change, contributing to a better world.

Despite the best of intentions, not all inclusion programs work as organizations might hope. At least one study has concluded that diversity programs can result in declining diversity in companies. In some companies, diversity programs have been shown to lead to higher pay for a few women, while the majority continue to face lower pay than their male counterparts. It is clearly not enough to have good intentions or even a plan. Looking at successful initiatives, however, can offer some clues as to what has worked for businesses.

What Are the Common Components of Diversity & Inclusion Programs at Companies?

While every company is different and therefore DEI efforts vary widely, almost all programs have a few components in common. These include:

  • A realization. Companies realize that they need a formal DEI effort. This may be because they face a discrimination lawsuit or because they face criticism on social media. Leaders may have noticed that workplaces with diverse management have 19% higher revenues when compared with less inclusive workplaces. Whatever the inciting incident, there is a reason why organizations look to DEI programs.
  • Tracking. All DEI programs track data in some way. They may do a count of employees & their demographics, send out an employee survey, hire a third party to conduct research, or otherwise try to get the pulse of their current demographic.
  • A focus on recruiting & hiring. Most organizations that feel they don’t have enough diversity in their workplace start seeking applicants in new ways. This may mean committing to hiring more individuals from equity-deserving groups. It can also mean recruiting in places where they can find diverse talent or rewriting job descriptions to be more inclusive.
  • Leadership buy-in. All DEI programs need to have approval & commitment from company leaders, owners, human resources (HR) professionals, & other decision-makers.

Even with all these components in common, DEI programs can look different. In some organizations, annual DEI reports are the most obvious example of diversity efforts underway. In other workplaces, diversity and inclusion is a focus weekly or every day. The size of the company, the goals of the program, the resources available, and other factors can all determine the right DEI plan fit.

What Do Successful Diversity & Inclusion Programs Have in Common?

Successful diversity and inclusion programs involve a different mindset. Companies with successful, robust programs usually have a clear goal they want to achieve, whether it’s a specific certification or a percentage of diversity, or a certain goal on an employee scorecard. In addition, successful programs have these elements in common:

  • Invitation rather than mandatory participation. Studies have shown that in cases where diversity training is required, participants sometimes expressed more anger towards other groups. To change an organization, mindsets need to shift, & a better way to do this is by fostering engagement & enthusiasm rather than requiring employees to take part or to receive training they do not want.
  • Data-driven efforts. Data can help organizations determine where diversity & inclusion are needed, not just where decision-makers assume change is required. Data also helps keep organizations stay enthusiastic & accountable by helping track change over time.
  • A look at culture. Strong efforts look at inclusion as well as diversity, which not only means hiring a diverse staff but also creating an organization where all workers want to stay & contribute. This can mean using mentorships, changing the workplace, making spaces accessible, changing communication styles, respecting multiple holidays, & taking additional steps to ensure everyone feels welcome & engaged at work.
  • A framework. Rather than making DEI a one-dimensional effort or a moving target, successful programs use a framework. This may include a way to compare DEI scores to industry averages, using the employee lifecycle as the basis of DEI efforts, or using another framework to create a holistic approach.
  • An examination of intersectionality. Diversity is not a zero-sum game. Someone who is a racial minority may also be part of the LGBTQ+ community, be living with a disability, & be transgender. Some markers of diversity, such as ethnicity or mental health conditions, may not be apparent. Successful programs consider intersectionality & may ask employees to complete anonymous surveys to determine where intersectionality occurs in the workplace.

These elements of successful diversity and inclusion programs make a significant difference because they take initiatives from a general idea to an accountable, forward-moving system. Rather than making DEI another checkbox to check off, they take a thoughtful, ongoing approach to diversity and inclusion, committing to change over time.

What Can Companies Learn from Other Organizations With Successful Programs?

Fortunately for any organization embarking on a DEI journey, there are many examples of companies that have successfully made changes. Analyzing good examples, especially within the same industry, can help leaders see what has worked and what might be worth trying in their own workplace. Previous successes can also provide inspiration. Companies have achieved great things for diverse, inclusive workplaces, even in industries that are traditionally very monocultural and slow to change.

How Can Diversio Help?

With Diversio, you can launch a successful and effective DEI initiative while still having time to run your business. As the first AI-powered DEI Platform in the world, Diversio allows you to measure diversity and inclusion efforts at your company in a way that ensures full anonymity and lets you track results easily in the AI-powered DEI Dashboard. 

Diversio’s suite of certifications helps you share your results with stakeholders while the AI-powered Recommendation Engine™ lets you translate metrics into a powerful action plan. Diversio is your partner in developing a successful path towards diversity and inclusion. To see the power of Diversio’s proprietary technology today, book a demo.

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Diversio DEI Expert
Diversio's DEI expert shares everything about diversity that you need to know.
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Ekua Quansah
Head of EDI, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

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