In the last two articles, we discussed the advantages of diversity and inclusion in the workplace as well as some obstacles the HR department might face during the process of building a diverse, equal and inclusive environment. In the next step, we are going to sketch out a thorough plan that helps your organisation to achieve this goal.
Steps to initiate diversity and inclusion planning in the workplace
There are 6 steps to building a strategic diversity, equity and inclusion plan (DE&I).
1. Setting goals
All your plans, including the DE&I plan, must align with your company's values. Having the ultimate mission statement shows the commitment of your organisation towards the employees, allowing them to see the path that everyone is heading to and the goals they are trying to achieve.
For example, “Integrity” is one of our six core values here at TRG. Our Founder and CEO, Rick Yvanovich, stated: “We are direct, honest and transparent and aim to do the right things. We say what we do, and we do what we say.”
One way to accomplish this mission is to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace with a well-established DE&I plan. “We strive to respect and embrace individuals from different age groups, classes, ethnicities, genders, abilities, races, sexual orientations and religions." This statement acts as a primary goal for the company and a guide for all objectives and activities of our plan.
Therefore, make a statement expressing what you and your organisation believe and how you want to work on that. Then, develop smaller objectives to help achieve that mission.
2. Collect data
After building a core statement, employers need to know who their employees are to tailor their plans appropriately. You might need to track your own data over time and introduce changes when needed. Demographic data may include the following:
- Ethnicity/national origin
- Family status
- Gender identity or expression
- Life experiences
- Organisation function and level
- Personality type
- Physical characteristics
- Religion, belief and spirituality
- Sexual orientation
- Thinking/learning styles
- Veteran status
Captured information is valuable for both the practices of DE&I and human resources planning, which then enables employers to understand staff better and to address any needs and concerns timely and more effective.
There are many sources you can use to collect the data from your employees, but most organisations might need to conduct some additional voluntary surveys to acquire self-identification data, such as religion or sexual orientation.
Be transparent about how these pieces of information could be used. Otherwise, it leads to ambiguity and mistrust. This step is crucial to make your employees feel more comfortable with being exposed as it shows how much you are committed to developing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace.
However, please remember that these demographics could not entirely represent every individual. Stereotypes are extremely harmful to your DE&I plan; hence, keep revising them throughout this whole journey.
3. Identify needs/ concerns
Analysing data is the next crucial step to imposing appropriate solutions. For instance, depending on the demographics information and proportions in each category, you might find there is no diversity in sexual orientation.
It could be due to a trust-related issue in the organisation. This is, however, another big problem since we need to make every employee feels comfortable with who they are instead of trying to be “fit".
Establishing a sense of belonging is not only a psychological need but also essential to improving engagement and productivity in the workplace.
4. Develop a plan
This could never be a one-size-fits-all curriculum to the diversity issue. Therefore, a flexible and individualised strategy would be a great idea. Objectives in the strategic plan should relate to your employees, your customers and your community.
First, an employee-related goal could be to expand your recruitment to a more demographically diverse talent pool. Diversity could not happen in one day unless you give it an environment to gradually develop. However, the sense of connection is a long-term process, not just one-day training.
The brand and its culture are intimately connected. The products and services you provide to your customer portray your belief. Hence, a customer-related objective could be to assess your customers' demographic information and train your staff to develop communication skills specific to your customers' needs. This requires internal and external teams to work closely with each other to create a consistent image for your company. Your employee base should be congruent with your customer base.
Last but not least is the community-related goal. It could be to contribute volunteer hours and funds to a local nonprofit organisation that serves a diverse segment of the population.
5. Implement the plan
This step is where you go over the DE&I plan, answer questions, and acquire buy-in and support from all your employees. It is important to listen to their perspectives and embrace all differences. Ask them to join in at least one part of your objectives to achieve the common goals.
It is optional but highly recommended to have a diverse committee to ensure the DE&I plan runs smoothly within the organisation, and everyone’s voice is heard by the company. This committee could produce training and carry on conversations with employees.
Read more: Emotional intelligence for leaders
The plans for DE&I differ from the elements the company has for its demographic pictures. Generally, each plan has an outcome, action and people (or department) in charge. Try to think of specific actions and the expected outcome. You might want to break the action down into step-by-step instructions. This does not just help your employees know what you expect from them, but you can follow the plan better or make changes when needed.
6. Measure the results and adjust
Following the actions are the results. Set an expected outcome for your team so you can easily track them along the way. It is necessary to have a regular report from your employees about their activities as well as their satisfaction with the initiatives you made.
Outcomes such as the increase in minor group proportions or positive social reactions should be carefully captured. Compare the results to your expected outcome and make any intervention promptly. For example, ask yourself: did the training and/or change in recruitment policy work out? This will help you identify what slows down your plan.
DE&I plan is not static but rather an ongoing process that aims at meeting the workforce’s needs. Company culture and environment need to be nurtured over time with the contribution from all staff, leaders, managers and even the newest recruits, not by one or two actions solely from the top management level.
Keep this DE&I conversation going as a part of the organisation’s development, and you will see positive results in both the working environment and the company's income along the way.