While there is a lot of focus on diversity hiring right now, a complete and comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategy extends far beyond recruiting.
In fact, DE&I touches all aspects of the employee experience, from engagement to retention, to compensation, to career pathing, to promotion, and more. But to ensure you are incorporating principles of transparency in every aspect of your company’s operations, you need to institute specific, measurable targets, and follow sound strategies to get you there.
Moving the needle on DE&I won’t happen overnight, but rather in a series of thoughtful, impactful steps. In this piece, we explain what DE&I is and outline five ways to move your team, and eventually your company, in the right direction.
What is DE&I?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) refers to a collection of strategies designed to help organizations embrace differences, treat individuals with respect, and decrease potential biases in the workplace. While we won't go into the nuances of DE&I in this post (others have written on this topic already), we want to emphasize that it influences all levels of management, not just human resources professionals.
5 Strategies for building a diverse workforce
HR professionals are often responsible for setting DE&I goals, but everyone, from hiring managers up to the board of directors, should be held accountable for achieving them. Below, we summarize five key steps you can take to make everyone feel like they are contributing to broader DE&I goals.
1. Review your mission
Whether you know it or not, your mission is a reflection of your company’s brand. And you need a positive, healthy brand to attract diverse candidates.
If you haven’t reviewed your corporate mission statement in a while, consider this a sign to do so. With DE&I in mind, ask yourself, your leadership, and your employees:
- Why do we do what we do?
- Why do we want to address DE&I?
- Why are we not meeting or exceeding progressive diversity targets already?
- Why do we hire and manage employees the way that we do?
- Why are our pay structures and job architectures designed this way?
As you collect and analyze everyone’s answers, examine any assumptions or default processes that bubble up to the surface一they just might be holding you back. Where possible, make adjustments to your mission statement that showcase why your organization cares about DE&I.
Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to DE&I to new potential hires, it also signals to existing employees that systemic internal changes are on the horizon.
2. Identify core team gaps and issues
Reviewing your mission is also a great way to expose team gaps; not just in terms of DE&I, but also with regard to skills, experience, and knowledge. Deliberately targeting these areas in a holistic manner will help build a better, stronger, team overall.
You’ll find that there are synergistic opportunities to improve the company on many levels. For example, the more you add DE&I concepts into your hiring practices, the more candidates you’ll identify that can fill critical gaps all around. Plus, HBR found that hiring more cognitively diverse employees helps companies solve tough problems faster, thereby potentially reducing the number of future gaps or issues to address.
3. Promote from within
Promotion cycles are a tenuous time for employees and hiring managers. Recognition, or the lack thereof, can have a dramatic impact on the way employees feel about their organization.
While hiring can be an effective way to hit your diversity targets, promoting existing staff can go a long way towards making diverse employees, and those that embrace DE&I practices, feel valued and heard. Promoting people that go above and beyond to advance the company’s mission encourages other employees to emulate that behavior, and gives them hope that they too, can advance to the next level someday.
That said, an effective promotion strategy requires significant planning and monitoring. A transparent performance rating system is critical to ensure promotions are fair and take everyone into consideration.
To make things even more complex, compensation is often tied directly to workplace promotion. Getting compensation and promotion right takes a dedicated strategy, which is why we created Assemble, a platform, to manage these multi-layered considerations. Remember, if it's not measured it cannot be improved!
4. Remember the team
No team operates in complete isolation, so no DE&I initiative should be designed or executed in isolation.
Every new hire, promotion, and reorg impacts the dynamics of your internal teams. It is essential to plan for this and acknowledge the outcome it produces. So before any new initiative is implemented, reach out to employees for feedback. Make a point to collect ideas from employee resource groups or other diverse communities in your organization.
As your teams grow, it’s important to keep an open mind. Remember to continue soliciting feedback, particularly in times of hypergrowth. Getting “more brains in the game” helps reduce bias throughout the company and keeps your DE&I KPIs on track.
5. Leverage referrals
Many companies forget that employees can be some of the best recruiters.
They often have smart, driven peers who are curious about working at your organization or moving into a new department. And if your employees already feel included, engaged, and aligned with your values, any colleagues they refer will probably enjoy working at your company as well. Not only that, employees who make referrals will be more likely to help their friends assimilate and succeed once they accept an offer.
So, any time you open a new rec, consider asking your own employees for recommendations一from inside and outside the company.
Building and sustaining DE&I in your organization
Having an active DE&I strategy goes well beyond hiring for diversity.
Corporate boards need to craft long-term plans to build and sustain diverse and fair systems throughout their companies, potentially even tying progress to CEO compensation and including DE&I metrics in quarterly financial statements.
But to get to that point, you need to reframe your workforce management, and there is a wide range of issues to consider, from promotions to compensation, and more.
The Assemble platform helps your leadership team tackle these multi-faceted processes head-on, allowing you to set DE&I-related goals and make progress transparent to your employees and stakeholders. To learn more about how Assemble can boost DE&I initiatives at your organization, request a demo of our compensation platform or read more of our thoughts on corporate transparency.