5 steps to keep diversity and inclusion top-of-mind with your employees
In my 16 years as an HR professional, I’ve learned that a diverse and inclusive organization is a well-rounded organization. When you invite diverse talent to help bring your mission to fruition, you’re also inviting new perspectives, perceptions and experiences that create more opportunities for empathetic thinking, creativity, and innovation. Research shows that companies that embrace and excel in areas of diversity, equity and inclusion outperform competitors, and I’ve seen the synergy that diversity brings to collaborative projects firsthand. The more diverse your team is, the better and the more vetted that project will be.
With organizations across the nation continuing to grapple with how to weave diversity and inclusion into their cultural fabric, Emplify built a tool to help leaders create a benchmark to measure their D&I efforts against. About 1,000 unique employees have taken the survey to date, and the findings offer an illuminating picture of the progress being made in D&I.
It’s encouraging to see that 85 percent of respondents believe that diversity and inclusion should be a top priority at their company. However, 39 percent of respondents wouldn’t say they’re proud of their company’s D&I progress, and more than half said their organization isn’t communicating frequently about its diversity policies and practices.
With many organizations still working remotely (mine included), it’s not surprising that communication is an issue when it comes to D&I progress. Zoom fatigue and inbox overwhelm are very real. But when it comes to making sure your employees are up-to-speed on the actions you’re taking to make your organization more diverse and inclusive, a little planning and some creativity goes a long way. Here are five steps to keep conversations about D&I going.
1. Create a cadence.
It’s important to create a cadence and set expectations around when people can expect to hear from you about your organization’s D&I efforts. At Emplify, our people ops team has committed to updating employees on our “hard metrics” related to diversity once per quarter. This communication typically includes:
- Updates on diverse candidate progression in our hiring process
- A recap of diversity programming and events from the previous quarter
- Any changes we’ve made to company policy regarding D&I
- A preview of D&I programming planned for the upcoming quarter.
Think about how your people would prefer to be communicated to.
It’s always important to put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and communicating with employees is no different. With many organizations still working remotely, people may be feeling bombarded with written communication or hesitant to fit another video call into their busy schedules. Knowing this to be the case, we delivered our Q3 D&I progress report to the company as a short video message over Slack. The asynchronous format allows people to watch or listen at their convenience. This also goes for sharing D&I resources like articles or podcasts. Give people some flexibility to engage with what you’re offering when and how they choose to.
Embrace formal and informal methods.
Not all conversations around diversity and inclusion have to be formal—in fact, baking D&I into your culture means informal conversations should be happening at every level. We’ve encouraged Emplify’s people leaders to be intentional about starting informal conversations around D&I with their teams and direct reports. Questions to consider having managers ask include:
- Do you feel like you belong here?
- Do you trust we’re advancing the diversity & inclusion efforts here?
- Do you feel you can disagree with me? With anyone here? Why or why not?
Encourage questions and feedback.
D&I is something that touches employees at all levels of an organization, which means there should be two-way communication between leadership and employees. Make sure employees know that they can ask questions and bring up concerns. We also use our own D&I assessment to gather quantitative data to gauge how Emplifiers think we’re doing to measure ourselves against quarter-over-quarter. All feedback is helpful feedback!
Find ways to “walk the talk.”
When it comes to making sure your employees know you’ve committed to D&I, sometimes small tweaks have an outsized impact. At Emplify, we’re reimagining the “swag bag” that all Emplifiers get on their first day to include items from Black-owned businesses and a card stating our inclusion promise. We’ve also taken steps to include more voices of color in our internal programming and professional development opportunities. Additionally, a few of us have put our preferred pronouns in our email signature, to show that we care about addressing people as they want to be addressed.
No matter where you are in the quest to become a more diverse and inclusive workplace, don’t give up! As philosopher Lao Tzu said, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.