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DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) was once a compliance issue in the 1960s, but now it’s a business priority to gain a competitive advantage in the market. According to research, companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion have become more profitable than their less-diverse competitors.

If you’re wondering how to improve your DEI policies at the workplace, you’ve come to the right place. To help you, we’ve listed some of the best practices to promote diversity in the workplace. Here’s what you need to know:

Do A Survey

Before you make any changes, conduct a pulse survey to get information on what initiatives and topics your employees care about and are invested in pursuing at your company. It’ll give you a real-time glimpse into the ideas and topics your team really cares about.

For best results, try to keep your survey short and conduct it at least once a year to understand and support your workforce. It’ll ensure that your employees feel like they belong.

After conducting the survey, introduce DEI-friendly policies and changes actively. Otherwise, your employees will feel undervalued and unheard. Once you implement the changes, your workforce might become happier and more engaged on every level, benefiting your company in the long run.

Conducting a survey will also help you assess which business areas have unconscious bias and discrimination in the workforce. A true DEI policy should allow every employee to have an opportunity to work equitably and fairly. Whether your employees work on-site or remotely, DEI policies should live beyond people and facilitate flexibility for all employees to create a more inclusive and equitable culture.

a sign supporting diversity and inclusion

Shuffle Your Teams

One of the most crucial steps in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is learning and understanding different voices with different experiences, cultures, and values. A diverse team is akin to sixty-four blocks on a chess board. Instead of getting stuck on one aspect of the board or where you’re happening to be playing, you must focus on all the sixty-four boxes and pieces on the board.

If you get stuck focusing on only one aspect of the geography or your team and department, you won’t be able to bring organizational change to promote diversity and inclusion.

Therefore, make a diverse team that allows enhanced perspectives to improve creativity, the flow of ideas, and talent. If your team is homogenous, invite someone with different gender, ethnicity, or cultural background to contribute to the latest project.

There is immense value in multiple perspectives and employee experiences that can help your workforce think in new ways, connect thoughts, and approach problem-solving differently. Therefore, shuffle your teams to facilitate this change.

Leverage Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led, voluntary groups that aim to promote a diverse and inclusive company culture aligned with organizational goals. They’re usually led by employees who share a characteristic like interest, lifestyle, religious affiliation, ethnicity, or gender.

ERG groups help and support career and personal development and create a safe space for employees to bring themselves to the table. Any potential allies to the group are welcome to join.

These groups can help develop and grow talent and help your managers learn from the groups in a safe space. They also build a culture of connection and belonging at a company and allow all employees to participate and share initiatives on the projects they’re working on. Therefore, provide your employees with guidelines and policies to create an ERG.

You must also get the senior board members on board to facilitate this change because it can help raise awareness, increase visibility, inspire innovation at the highest levels of the company and align ERG activities with business goals. Also, commitments from senior board members and C-Suite executives signal a larger and wider organizational commitment to promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

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Acknowledge Religious And Cultural Holidays

One of the best ways to foster greater inclusivity and build awareness of diversity is to acknowledge and be aware of upcoming cultural and religious holidays. As managers and team leaders, when closing a meeting, you can ask the people in your team what their plans are to celebrate their upcoming holidays, if the audience at the meeting isn’t too large, to respect everybody’s time. It’ll foster a feeling of inclusivity and connectivity in your workforce.

You can also use your company’s intranet or internal communication system to help employees keep track and be aware of multicultural holidays and religious celebrations. It’ll help you be more respectful when scheduling meetings and understand that some employees may require flexibility on those days.

Develop A Strategic Training Program For DEI

Diversity training helps employees understand cultural and ethnic differences and how they impact interactions at work. They influence everything from dealing with conflict, self-identity, communication styles, and concepts of time. That’s why diversity training is so crucial.

However, don’t make it mandatory for employees to attend. It’ll be more effective to offer diversity training as optional as it will force your employees to internally gauge if they need training and how they can help their colleagues feel at ease in the workplace.

As a company, try to focus on training that’s relevant to your organizational workforce that aligns with identified challenges in the survey, inclusion initiatives highlighted by your employees, and introduce policies that align with their broader diversity.

You may use external resources and consultants to create training programs and bring C-Suite executives to facilitate this change in company policy and culture. You can ask the leaders to make customized strategic plans for the organization as a whole and for specific departments too.

It’s also crucial that your senior leadership explains and communicates why this training is taking place, what you’re trying to solve, the expected outcomes, and what comes next. It’ll motivate your workforce and help them understand how the training’s outcome ties to broader organizational goals.

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Support Pay Equity

The playing field must be level for everyone so there’s a fair opportunity for each employee to excel. Use your internal analytics to figure out which employees are being paid less for similar roles within the organization. As a manager, try to pinpoint any existing pay gaps within your teams and figure out why that is so, while senior leadership can assess the overall pattern in the organization to get the root cause behind the pay gap.

This insight will help you identify patterns in your workforce compensation, like if certain people of color or ethnicity are being underpaid. Once the issue and underlying causes are identified, update your compensation plans to be more inclusive and equitable.

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