How to Put Words into Action
Jump Into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
It is time to put in the work. I have heard a lot of ‘excuses’ on why people and organizations have not been ready to jump into action in the DEI space. I will be honest and say, I have had my fair share of excuses as well. The most common ones hear are:
- Diversity is not an issue here
- We are already inclusive
- I am scared to say or do the wrong thing
- I’m not racist, I don’t see color
- I don’t even know where to start
Those are just a few statements floating around out there. To live in fear and/or ignore others experiences because they are not our own will stall progress, innovation and opportunity. To truly change and improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace we must confront bias, challenge ourselves and others and be brave. Easier said then done right? Well, that is why I am writing this post; to provide education, a starting place on how to put words into action and some resources.
A Little Inspiration Before We Get Started
(Brene Brown rocks!)
First Things First: Diversity Versus Inclusion
A successful diversity and inclusion program understands the difference between diversity and inclusion. Diversity refers to traits and, often, the physical characteristics that make people different while inclusion refers to behaviors that make people feel welcomed and included.The two often get lumped together and while both are important it is best practice to start with inclusion. Take care of the people you already have and develop a culture of inclusion. Then, as you add diversity into your organization, the foundation of inclusion, communication, and openness will be set. The act of valuing and including all perspectives, backgrounds and diversity, is a longer lasting initiative than just focusing on bringing in and retaining those from different background.
Ideas on How to Put Words into Action
1. Start with yourself.
You cannot lead others in a direction of true change until you yourself can understand, process and acknowledge your own emotions and personal biases. A good place to begin is by educating yourself. Read, listen, and learn from those around you and those that are different than you.
2. Employee Round Table Groups.
Give your employees a safe space to share about their experiences and hear from others on theirs. It it good to set rules and/or guidelines for respectful and empathetic communication. An objective for round tables can be to provide actionable solutions that could improve employees’ ability to manage their emotions in order to reduce the impact on emotional health and workplace effectiveness. The most important part is to make room for open communication!
3. Employee Surveys.
Don’t be afraid to get your employees opinions. In other words, Ask them how they think the organization is doing on racial equity and what improvements could be made.
4. Bias Training.
Provide a facilitated training to your leaders and employees on unconscious bias, cultural sensitivity and racial bias. Fore instance, training will allow for common language to be used by all, a safe space for communication and formalized education.
5. Affinity Groups.
This can be used as more of a long term tool. An affinity group is defined in Merriam Webster as “a group of people having a common interest or goal or acting together for a specific purpose.” They are sometimes also referred to as employee resource groups. Developing affinity groups requires research, organization and consistency, among other things. If your organization is ready to put in the work it can be a valuable tool for an organization and their employees.
Are your policies and procedures reflecting action?
What do your policies and procedures say about your organization’s diversity and inclusion beliefs? There is no better time than the present to review your handbook and policies to ensure they communicate inclusiveness and clear non-discrimination practices. It is also important, not just to write inclusive policies and procedures, but to ensure they are actually being followed. If assistance or guidance is needed in reviewing policies or your organization could benefit from training on this topic, please reach out for customized solutions!
As stated above, start with yourself but then share with others! That can mean many things depending on your unique situation. Good starting places to look towards are education, taking care of your mental health, and/or getting involved with a diverse groups or organizations. Here are a few resources I have found extremely helpful:
- Justice in June – Resources for being a better ally.
- Anti-racism resources for white people.
- 31 Resources That Will Help You Become a Better White Ally (By Self Magazine)
- Tips for Discussing Racial Injustice in the Workplace (By SHRM)
- Mental Health and Well Being Resources:
Let Us Help Get You Started
We are prepared to support and assist with any or all of these actions, if needed. To discuss customized solutions please reach out!