group of diverse coworkers
A more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce can, according to SHRM, “increase the overall bottom line.” — Getty Images/Prostock-Studio

In today’s professional world, establishing diverse, equal and inclusive (DEI) practices for your business is imperative. Not only is it important for your employees, but creating an inclusive business can improve your profits, as well as employee retention, talent recruitment and innovation.

Developing a diversity, equity and inclusion committee can help your business achieve a more diverse environment. The following tips can help ensure your DEI committee succeeds.

[Read: Looking for Diversity? How to Build a More Inclusive Small Business]

What is a diversity, equity and inclusion committee?

A diversity, equity and inclusion committee is a task force of diverse staff members who are responsible for helping bring about the cultural, and possibly ethical, changes necessary for your business. A more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce can, according to SHRM, “increase the overall bottom line” of your business.

How to create a DEI committee

Here are six steps to help develop your DEI committee:

Prepare and compile data

Before you can create your DEI committee, you first need to know what your workforce looks like, especially when compared to the labor market. As SHRM states, “by capturing data on employee demographics, an employer is better able to understand the diversity of its employees and equity of its internal practices and identify any areas of concerns or trends.” Some demographic data to focus on include age, gender, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, ethnicity or national origin, family status and language.

Identify committee members

Be sure to invite different types of employees to sit on the DEI committee — the more diverse the committee members are, the more viewpoints and opinions that can be taken into consideration. Plus, including a variety of different employees is an equitable and thoughtful way to found your DEI committee.

Define goals or areas of concern

The first order of business, after selecting the committee members, should be to define the committee’s goals. Review the compiled data to identify problem areas throughout your business. You can also ask the committee to conduct a survey or focus groups to understand how your employees feel about the company culture and environment.

[Read: Inclusive Leadership: Being the Boss of Belonging]

For the DEI committee to create real change in your organization, you'll need to find allies in key departments

Address policies affecting diversity

After you’ve identified possible areas of concern to address, determine which, if any, policies that need to be modified or possibly eliminated. Some policies to assess are:

  • Benefits: While you should review the health, dental and vision benefits you offer, consider other benefits that could help attract more diverse candidates, including 401k match, parental leave that’s inclusive of LGBTQIA and adopting couples as well as childcare reimbursement.
  • Employee referral programs: While employee referral programs can be an excellent way to attract new applicants, they can often result in employees referring candidates of the same religion, national origin, race or economic background.
  • Employee resource groups: Employee resource groups can provide a way for employees to share their thoughts and opinions while also fostering diversity and innovation.
  • Company events: If you’re considering hosting more diverse company events beyond happy hours, consider offering in-office fitness classes, nutrition lunch-and-learns, book club and a non-denominational holiday party.

Implement and communicate initiatives

Once the DEI committee has identified which policies to update, it’s time to implement those changes and communicate the DEI committee’s initiatives to the rest of your organization. Your communication plan should include messages designed to inform, educate, engage and/or empower the rest of your employees through presentations, newsletters, corporate-wide emails, intranet messages and social media posts.

Find an ally or support system with decision-making power

For the DEI committee to be able to affect true change throughout your organization, you’ll need to find allies in key departments with decision-making power that can provide the necessary support to create true change throughout your organization. For example, if the DEI committee wants to update the new hire onboarding process, you’ll need an ally in the human resources department who can help implement those changes.

With these steps, you’ll be able to create and launch a successful diversity, equity and inclusion committee for your organization.

[Read: 7 Tips for Hiring a More Diverse Workforce]

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