There is no single (or preferred) strategy to help embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the work environment. It’s important that all members of the organization recognize that continuous forward motion is the only way to achieve success. Here are a few strategies to get started:
Start the conversation – this starts with the leadership team. Open the door, set the tone, and send a very clear message that DEI is something that will be discussed openly and acted upon.
Increase transparency and accountability – organizations that do not operate with a high level of transparency and understanding of what is being done to increase DEI, will not feel that enough is being done to make a sustained improvement.
Inclusive leadership skills must be developed – simply being aware of unconscious bias or having a basic business sense for DEI is not enough. Awareness is important, however, it doesn’t automatically mean that action will be taken. Leadership needs to learn the tools, understand the frameworks, and utilize the skills to help close the gap between theory and practice.
Take notice of diversity during conversations and decisions – leadership must create the conditions in which diverse viewpoints will be represented, they must be purposeful in seeking out people with opposing viewpoints, they must delegate equitably, and then proactively identify opportunities for all to maximize professional development.
Pay attention – the growing challenges of DEI efforts have been highlighted due to hybrid and virtual working conditions. Some groups have reported that the virtual working environments come as a relief where being at home has provided a safer place to conduct work during the pandemic. It is clear that flexible work arrangements bring huge benefits, it also creates a risk for widening the diversity gaps and possibly creating new ones. Leadership (and all other members of the organization) need to pay attention to how all people are being treated. Leaders should be intentional in the way they engage and acknowledge each person and their value to the organization.
Act as an ally – acting as an ally for someone is similar to being a catalyst for change. To embrace diversity in the workplace is to advocate on behalf of others and contribute to creating fair working conditions for everyone. Additionally acting as an ally becomes even more critical when supporting historically those groups that have been excluded and may face unique challenges.
Commit to change – to look inward is a very critical piece to enhancing a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each member of the organization should consider their own leadership strengths and opportunities as they relate to these best behaviors and best practices.
Building a platform – it takes every member of an organization to take action to embrace diversity. It requires the work of the individual, the team, and the entire organization. This work is difficult, so all of those involved should be considerate of others by maintaining their coworker’s sense of self-esteem and demonstrating empathy. Empathy is key. Leadership should continue to spread the message that there is always work being done in this area as well as modeling the behaviors they want to see in their teams and develop a loop for feedback.