By Anna Jovel
SOS Account Executive
With the recent events of injustice that have been happening across the country, talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion are on the rise, and if you aren’t talking about it, well… you should be.
“Business today is increasingly global, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. If your company's employees don't reflect this trend and represent cultural diversity, your business may be very much behind the times,” (Schindler).
So how do we have the conversation to get things started and how do we keep the conversation going to ensure long-term success in embracing diversity in our workplace or association?
1. “Let’s start with some definitions: “Diversity” tells us who is in the room, “inclusion” means those in the room are heard, and “equity” means those in the room have the things they need to thrive. Thus, the term “DEI” = diversity, equity, inclusion. And to be clear, equity doesn’t mean equality,” (Nessel).
2. Take a personal assessment. Look at your employees, your board, your membership and assess your current level of diversity. Asking your members about their backgrounds, ethnicity, gender pronouns or preferences, etc., can sometimes feel evasive of someone’s privacy. However, it is an important aspect of measuring your current level of diversity. Below are a couple of ways to ease this process:
a. Make these type of surveys or questions optional. It allows the member to make a choice for themselves as to whether to provide the information.
b. Make it anonymous. This assures them that their personal information will not be shared because their response is not linked backed to them as an individual.
3. Make a commitment to diversity and inclusion. “The leadership of an organization with successful diversity policies and practices demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” (The Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices). Diversity and equity throughout an organization starts at the top, an organization can only embrace this to the extent that the leadership allows or supports. Some ways that an organization can show their support of diversity includes reassessing your mission and vision to ensure inclusive wording, implement new policies and procedures around equitable practices, conduct regular educational and training sessions, and many more. There are a lot of resources on the internet, including an article from the Society for Human Resource Management about 6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace. These kind of practices, guided by the leadership of an organization “fosters a corporate culture that embraces diversity and inclusion,” (The Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices).
4. Keep up the conversation. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is becoming an increasingly valued part of the workplace conversation. As a result, many mission-driven organizations are signaling their desire to institutionalize workplace DEI practices by launching a staff-led taskforce, working groups, and committees,” (Lee). Implementing a taskforce or committee that focuses on long-term DEI, provides a space and a commitment to keep the conversation going. This committee will keep up to date with current events, take ownership over assessing policies and procedures, and ensure the continued focus on making your organization a safe, diverse, and equitable place of employment or membership.
“Through education and a greater grasp of cultural competence (an evolving developmental process that encourages the increasing awareness of and respect for the interpersonal styles, beliefs, languages and customs of those from cultures other than our own), many corporations are evolving into multinational melting pots,” (Schindler). Take the next step to implement DEI and watch your organization turn in to its own multinational melting pot full of diverse ideas, inclusive opportunities, equitable practices, and compassion for one another.
Lee, Yejin. “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace: Tips for Starting a DEI Committee.” Idealist, 3 July 2020, link to resource.
Nessel, Ariel. “How We Approach DEI Work With Organizations (And Why).” Encompass, 16 Oct. 2018, link to resource.
Schindler, Janine. “Council Post: The Benefits Of Cultural Diversity In The Workplace.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Sept. 2019, link to resource.
“The Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices.” FDIC, link to resource.