In part one of this article, we discussed the importance of business owners implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Here, in part two, we’ll focus on steps that your business clients can use to get started with their DEI initiatives.
Turning talk into action
It’s not enough for businesses to just say that they support diversity in the workplace. Today, they must implement proactive steps to ensure that their DEI initiatives are not only doable, but sustainable.
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, creating a diverse workplace requires an intentional approach that includes the following five action steps:
· Break down existing boundaries. Simply put, this is about spanning the business to map out and remove the unintentional biases that may exist. For example, are there groups of individuals, teams or branches of the business that aren’t accessing and setting DEI goals? Knowing where potential gaps exist allows the business to take actionable steps to break down boundaries and build connections across the organization.
· Review recruiting, hiring and promotion practices. Businesses must examine their employee development and hiring practices. The Center for Creative Leadership notes that a good place to start is with management and team leaders, asking questions to evaluate best practices and policies to reveal potential ways in which bias may be creeping in. For example, are assumptions being made about individuals’ current capability and future potential? Are different standards being applied to some individuals or groups?
· Put social identity under a microscope. Social identities are labels that people use to categorize or identify themselves or others as members of specific groups (e.g., generation, nationality, profession, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, gender). Businesses can no longer ignore this problem and must be proactive in uncovering potential issues. The unfortunate truth is that social identity groups are at the root of unequal power or privilege. Identifying and correcting social identity issues that may exist is a vital step for businesses in creating a successful DEI work environment.
“A social-identity lens can help [businesses] spot situations when actions and decisions may be rooted in unconscious bias or when it is unintentionally shutting down diverse perspectives.“
Source: Center for Creative Leadership, “Understand Social Identity to Lead in a Changing World.”
· Have meaningful, open conversations. Every person at every level of the business needs to be part of the DEI conversation, stressing the importance of creating a culture where there is increased openness, respect for differences in others and understanding. A good place to start a diversity conversation is with upper management and supervisory teams.
· Implement a coaching culture. Business owners can’t be everywhere at once. By establishing DEI mentors, businesses can create a network of coaches in all areas of the company to help foster diversity and the growth of all employees.
The ability to shift mindsets, behaviors and processes in the workplace isn’t an easy task. Business owners already have a full plate of daily responsibilities that can push implementing DEI initiatives to the back burner. However, taking small steps today can result in a big impact tomorrow.
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