Like many organizations across the country, this year we felt an immense responsibility to ensure that our workplace was measuring up to high standards of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). While we still have much to learn, we wanted to share seven key steps that have guided us this past year in establishing our local DEI steering committee.
1. Be honest about where you are today. Start by reaching out and listening at an individual level. Begin with your most impacted employees, or those in your close circle. Doing so helps build a foundation of trust. Then give employees an opportunity to share honest feedback through an anonymous survey. Communicate upfront and transparently disclose the results of the survey along with key takeaways. At the core of all this, it’s about your people. Individuals who have unique experiences, perspectives, and beliefs. We recognized early that individually, we are all starting off at different points on this DEI journey – and that is okay.
2. Define your Vision and Mission. Ask yourself what your ideal future state will look like and how you plan to arrive there. Crafting your mission and vision statements will require meaningful, hard work and lots of revisions. Be thoughtful about each statement and how different constituents in your organization will internalize your message.
3. Recruit internal “Agents of Change,” and then empower them. This is your first opportunity to embrace diversity in a wholistic and broad sense. Be thoughtful of how to best represent your organization, not only in cultural background, but also tenure and seniority within the organization. Find passionate contributors who will invest the time and energy into your DEI mission for the long haul. Keep a tight group at the beginning so you can be more effective at executing your mission.
4. Build off your existing culture in an authentic way. Starting a DEI journey is similar to planting a tree, the soil in which you plant is your organization’s culture. It’s important to be honest about your culture and asses what it can support, or what is going to grow well in that soil. One way to work with your current culture is to assess practices and initiatives that are currently running well and graft your DEI initiates into those practices you’ve already established. For example, if you currently send company-wide communications on a regular basis, start including DEI focused material into those communications.
5. Communicate honestly and frequently. The purposeful use of words and language is essential to building the culture you wish to achieve. Transparent communication will build trust, which is essential to making sure your DEI initiatives succeed. Continually reinforce your intentions by communicating your mission and vision statements frequently and consistently.
6. Lead from the “top down” and the “bottom up” simultaneously. You will need both leaders in the sense of authority and position within the company, as well as leaders whose authority is not reflected in their title, but in their credibility with their peers. Both types of leaders will need to work together to effectively execute your DEI initiatives in your workplace.
7. View feedback as a gift. A successful DEI initiative will need to be embraced by all your employees. These initiatives should not belong to any one person, or steering committee, but to the organization as a whole. Listening to and encouraging feedback from all your constituents is what will help shape your journey to make sure your DEI initiatives succeed companywide.
Article provided by HUB’s Los Angeles DEI Committee. For more information, visit hubinternational.com.
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