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How to Create Sustainable DEI Programs at Your Company


Successful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs aren’t ones with an end date. Rather, the top DEI initiatives are ones that organizations are able to sustain and continually build upon.

With that in mind, your business — not just your Chief Diversity Officer and DEI committee (if you have such roles), but everyone at your org — needs to collect feedback from all employees to ensure diverse perspectives are heard and that feedback/those ideas are used to make the company a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive one over time.

One of the major upsides to mature DEI programs is a rise in workforce satisfaction. Employees feel more contented when their C-suite, human resources team, and people managers work in tandem to hire more members of underrepresented groups and create a more inclusive environment.

It’s not just existing staff that’ll appreciate a sustained commitment to inclusivity. Numbers suggest that job seekers are looking for evidence of diversity at work and that success can be compounded.

Proof of this can be found in Glassdoor’s annual Diversity and Inclusion Survey , which found four in five minority applicants count a diverse workforce as a deciding factor when evaluating an employer.

So, what is your small business doing to implement DEI programs (and specific, measurable goals tied to them) that help you build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace? If you’re looking for a place to get started with DEI initiatives for your SMB, you’ve come to the right place.

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Develop dedicated DEI programs around training

One-off diversity workshops aren’t enough anymore. In fact, they’re viewed as doing the bare minimum by employees. As a group of researchers publishing in the Harvard Business Review put it:

In order for anti-bias training to actually work, it needs to be reinforced regularly. The efficacy of a one-off workshop drops off as time goes on, and subconscious biases can resurface.

The University of Buffalo’s Katerina Bezrukova studied 40 years’ worth of DEI training results, and also found that “over time … attitudes regressed to what they were before the training.”

Remember: Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs don’t always have to involve lengthy and expensive workshops. Instead, learning experiences should be facilitated on a day-to-day basis by business and HR leaders and people managers by embedding diversity practice into company culture.

Business News Daily’s Paula Fernandes shared this advice from Bezrukova’s research. We think it’s a great summary of how to conduct DEI training: “Roll out a series of programs, events, celebrations, mentoring opportunities and other experiences for continual learning. This way, it becomes more about reinforcement of positive behavior than an annual lecture of all the prohibitive rules.”

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Ensure you have a sustainable inclusive hiring strategy

Good news: We already have a how-to guide on diversity hiring. If you read that and abide by our tips, you’ll (hopefully) end up with stronger, more inclusive recruitment processes. Here, though, let’s look at the ways in which you can measure and improve your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

You wouldn’t let your social media campaigns go un-evaluated. Your DEI programs are far more important than a few Twitter posts. It’s time to track your inclusivity performance with smart goals, using frameworks like KPIs or OKRs. Align inclusivity goals with your company goals, or vice versa.

Start measuring, and you’ll be able to take data-backed action to improve your DEI efforts and compound your successes. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have a healthy set of statistics that you can translate into positive employer branding that attracts even more diverse talent.

Here’s a helpful LinkedIn guide to the kinds of DEI metrics your hiring team, in particular, should be tracking. Once you’ve defined your goals, ensure that your applicant tracking system (ATS) is capable of collecting and centralizing all your diversity recruiting and candidate data in a single location.

(One that ideally dynamically updates and offers rich analytics tied to your DEI hiring initiatives.)

how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Communicate your commitment to DEI programs

According to a 2020 Quantum Workplace report, 48% of business professionals said that “respect” is the most important contributor to “a culture of inclusion.” Respect isn’t a token show of support. It’s an ongoing set of actions that tell employees you value their opinions. For your team to feel respected, they need to see consistency on the part of their employers when it comes to DEI efforts.

  • One of the simplest ways to communicate respect for your team is to listen to them, and act on the suggestions that arise from your conversations.

Job seekers are far more likely to trust employees than employers. As if communicating respect wasn’t enough, this makes another argument for including staff in the DEI conversation.

By listening to their suggestions and giving them a stake in your org’s DEI programs, you’ll be creating in-house advocates that have a sense of ownership and pride in the changes that are being made.

Then, you can involve them in the hiring process. That way, you’ll have ambassadors that job seekers — experienced industry veterans and those fresh out of colleges and universities — can trust. It’s a fantastic opportunity to both improve your employer brand, and to learn from your teammates.

Making DEI “business as usual” at your organization

Practically everyone at your org is laser-focused on improving your bottom line. As they should. Your company’s success has a trickle-down effect on your staff (i.e., earning bonuses, getting promotions and raises, upward mobility options). But, it can’t be the sole focus for your business.

Whether it’s initiatives around training, hiring, or communicating, the common thread that runs through sustainable DEI programs is communication, collaboration, and coordination.

Don’t just act like an org that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. Be one. Make diversity, equity, and inclusion an intrinsic part of your company’s identity, and you’ll not only see greater employee satisfaction and retention, but also a rise in more job seekers who want to work for your business.

Find out how investing in our advanced ATS can help your hiring team better identify, engage, and hire diverse talent. Schedule a demo of our leading recruiting software today for more info.

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