DEI Tips That Every Leader Should Know About
While companies have made some progress on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion front (DEI), there is still a lot of work to be done to create inclusive workplaces and combat inequality.
The good news is, investing in DEI efforts is worth it, from increasing engagement levels to fostering team collaboration and innovation. For example, a 2022 report revealed that diverse companies earn two and a half times higher cash flow per employee and that inclusive teams are more productive by over 35%.
As a leader, it’s now essential to understand core DEI principles and embrace a few best practices. Chandre Torpet, a strategy consultant specializing in DEI, says that you need to keep in mind the three following things:
- Diversity is a unique talent already in your business.
- Inclusion is how you attract more unique talent to your business.
- Equity is what keeps the unique talent in your business
Information alone is not enough though – here are five tips to make an actual impact with DEI in your organization.
1. Practice acts of inclusion
Performing acts of inclusion is one way you can put DEI into practice on a daily basis. “We call Acts of Inclusion (AOI) the small everyday behaviors and gestures that invite a person, and their perspectives, into your environment. There are countless AOIs, so be thoughtful and get started,” says Torpet, who recommends setting a daily reminder on your phone to demonstrate an AOI.
According to Deloitte, examples of AOIs include admitting you made a mistake, taking an interest in learning about different cultures the people you work with are from, and creating more space in meetings for listening to your team without judgment.
2. Acknowledge the DEI influencers in your company
Is there one team member who is always taking initiative to organize things like Pride and Women’s Day celebrations? It’s important to acknowledge those DEI influencers, says Torpet:
“Diversity fatigue is the exhaustion, frustration and isolation people feel when they actively attempt to build DEI in an organization, yet see minimal results. It’s a silent burden that threatens engagement in your team. Acknowledging those culture creators is a first (and easy) step to alleviating diversity fatigue, which positively impacts the company.”
3. Hold all leaders accountable for DEI – not just HR
Leaders who take DEI seriously turn it into a business objective. As Torpet puts it, “DEI affects all areas of business” and “the results are tangible.” She recommends setting concrete targets for DEI with all managers. Treat it as you would treat any of your other team goals.
4. Get strategic support
Even with the best intentions, it’s normal if you feel the need for extra support. Hiring a consultant who can guide you through the process of fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace through genuine and cohesive actions and messaging is a good idea — especially if you are hiring for executive leadership positions like a chief marketing officer or are in the process of finding a technical co-founder or general business partner.
“The most noticeable changes come from the top. Senior leaders are privileged in wielding influence across large groups. Being a visible and transparent leader regarding DEI can create trust and build engagement in your organization,” according to Torpet.
5. Revamp your hiring process
Finally, your hiring process is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to DEI – don’t neglect it. “As the CEO of a tech hiring platform, I’d like business leaders to focus in 2023 on diversifying their talent pools. Traditional hiring practices can exclude historically underrepresented groups by, for example, valuing certain degrees while failing to take into account the access and privilege necessary to gain them,” says Ryan Agresta, founder of Candidate.co.
According to him, while job descriptions can include specific requirements, it’s important to take a more holistic look at applicants and expand your talent pool by focusing on the qualities truly needed for success instead of a cookie-cutter list of traits and experiences. Being transparent about compensation is key, too. “It’s important for every leader to be transparent in order to ensure equity and inclusivity. This can be accomplished by including compensation transparency in job postings,” he says.
Also, consider your hiring team while implementing DEI-driven hiring practices. “If a company is just beginning to focus on attracting diverse talent, you may not be able to assemble a hiring team that is entirely representative of the diversity you’re hoping to achieve,” adds Agresta. However, building a diverse hiring team will help decrease the risk of bias and make interviewees more comfortable.
Walking your talk is, after all, one of the most crucial aspects of successful DEI practices.