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If you’re ready to develop a DEI strategy for your business, here’s what you should know about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how to to make your business more inclusive. — Getty Images/ljubaphoto

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become vital indicators that both employees and potential candidates use to identify the most progressive, supportive, and innovative companies. Developing a DEI strategy is a must for businesses across all industries to keep track of their efforts and uncover any blocks diverse employees might be facing.

If you’re ready to develop a DEI strategy for your business, here’s what you should know about diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as four steps to make your business’s culture more inclusive.

What is DEI?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are often mentioned in conjunction with each other as part of social reform in the workplace; however, there are two ways to define DEI — each term on its own and as a holistic concept.

The eXtension Foundation Impact Collaborative defines these terms as follows:

  • Diversity refers to people’s “race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment or political perspective.”
  • Equity promotes “justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedure, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.” It’s important to note the distinction between equity and equality. Equality is the acknowledgment of the disparity in resources and opportunities individuals experience. On the other hand, equity allocates additional resources to ensure everyone can achieve the same outcome, regardless of their privilege and power differences.
  • Inclusion ensures people of all diverse backgrounds are welcome and have a seat at the table. This involves giving all employees the power to weigh in on important decisions and participate in development opportunities.

Combined, DEI involves creating a place where everyone is welcome, supported, and has the resources they need to grow and thrive regardless of identity, origin, or difference in circumstances. Employers typically achieve DEI goals by creating a DEI strategy to develop best practices and track their progress.

[Read: 6 Small Business Owners on Making Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Part of Their Business Plan]

Your mission is the foundation of your business’s identity. Incorporating your DEI strategy into your overall mission emphasizes its importance to the organization’s present state and future.

How to develop your DEI strategy

Every business should prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Here are four tips for developing your DEI strategy:

Identify opportunities and areas for improvement

Before you can implement your DEI strategy, you’ll need to identify possible opportunities for improvement. For instance, perhaps your business lacks diverse leaders or specific teams only have workers from a specific background.

Once you’ve identified the parts of your organization that need immediate attention, develop a specific plan of action with short- and long-term goals, a hierarchy of tasks to tackle, and timeframes for completion and analysis.

Tie DEI to your mission

Your mission is the foundation of your business’s identity. Incorporating your DEI strategy into your overall mission emphasizes its importance to the organization’s present state and future.

Weaving your DEI strategy into your overall mission will also signify to current employees and potential candidates that you value and are willing to invest in everyone’s success.

Hire and promote diverse employees

One of the best ways to start incorporating your DEI strategy is by surveying the demographic makeup of your organization. Inspect your recruitment and promotion practices to understand how both impact the diverse talent in your workforce. If you find your business lacks diversity in leadership, you’ll want to consider promoting or hiring diverse employees so they can bring different insights and perspectives to the company.

Additionally, determine whether you’re properly developing your diverse employees and providing them access to the necessary resources. Be sure to also analyze your recruitment and employee development efforts to identify any unconscious biases that might be creeping in.

Lead inclusively and train employees on DEI

Once your DEI strategy is in place, provide the rest of your workforce with the necessary training and resources. Keep in mind that it may take time as well as consistent training and discourse to manifest equitable outcomes throughout the organization.

Include yourself in the conversation and lead by example. Create an in-house DEI committee or advisory board to help achieve a more inclusive and diverse environment with regular assessments of your DEI strategy.

[Read: 6 Essential Steps to Creating a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee at Your Company]

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Published April 12, 2022