3 Best Practices Along the Path to Equity.
When you created your DEI division and hired qualified individuals to implement equity strategies, you didn’t do it to check a box. You wanted to diversify your workforce, take care of your Black and Brown employees and clients, and make sure that people were granted every opportunity they deserve, regardless of their background.
But the reality is that equity work is hard. Effectively creating equity throughout an organization requires more than good intentions and hiring people from different backgrounds. A comprehensive commitment to putting your organization on the path to equity must be strategic and embedded in every aspect of your business.
Some of the most successful DEI initiatives are bottom-up efforts that gain buy-in at every level of company culture by making the people who are committed to equity and already performing the day-to-day tasks have ownership over DEI strategies in their wheelhouse within the company. While enacting such a strategy may seem daunting, it starts with professionals and altruistic leaders advocating for DEI within their workplaces and personal lives. Then executives must take accountability and show commitment to creating more fair, accessible, conscious, and welcoming workplaces.
Whether you’re just getting started on implementing equitable practice or you’re refreshing your current DEI strategies, the following 3 best equity practices will set you and your employees up for success.
Evaluate Current Practices
You can’t figure out where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. Taking an objective inventory of your current DEI practices is essential to developing an effective equity initiative. The way your company is perceived by employees and potential job applicants is just as insightful as quantitative hiring metrics. After looking at current employee demographics, ask for honest, anonymous feedback from your employees to understand successes and areas for improvement in your organization. Ask questions like:
- How often do you encounter microaggressions at work?
- How would you rate your comfort level with bringing concerns about racism in the workplace to your direct manager?
- How can this company remove barriers to success for employees of color?
From this initial data, you can begin to set actionable DEI goals that will address real needs within your organization.
Use Deliberate Recruitment & Provide Unbiased Opportunity
Recruiters attempt to recruit employees of color; however, most organizations are in need of a strategy to account for the barriers of entry created by intersectionality that left people of color out of the candidate pool in the first place. Evidence shows that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. Our society is ingrained with systemic inequalities and recognizing those inequalities that prevent people of color from successfully getting their resumes and applications in front of hiring managers is the first step to achieving successful DEI.
Proven techniques for non-biased and DEI-friendly recruitment already exist for HR reps and hiring managers to implement. Rather than scouring through a list of applicants for individuals of color, companies can ask recruiters to source candidates directly from HBCUs and other historically diverse colleges, associations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), or the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), sororities and fraternities comprised of students of color, and other cultural interest groups to bring the opportunities directly to diverse candidates. Once a diverse pool of applicants has been acquired, a great way to make sure the most qualified individuals are hired is to use blind hiring, in which all personal information about a candidate that would indicate age, gender, and race is removed from the materials the hiring manager sees so that they may focus solely on skill-related characteristics of the applicant.
Establish a Clear and Evident Commitment to Equity from Leaders
DEI initiatives are sometimes viewed as the responsibility of top management and/or HR, but the responsibility of advancing equity initiatives falls on every member of the organization. When every leader in an organization, from the team manager to the CEO, shows an authentic commitment to equitable practices, it is more likely that you will find success. A bottom-up approach develops different learning solutions and strategies to meet individuals where they are because multiple leaders from the organization are able to provide insight from their different backgrounds and experiences. Additionally, when selecting leaders during hiring, determining who should be promoted from within the company, and planning professional development, diversity competence needs to be at the forefront of decision-making. Diversity competent managers who have more than a cursory understanding of the history of racism, as well as current struggles and activism, are ideally suited to promote an inclusive community and facilitate the sensitive discussions that are inevitable in this line of work.
Evident leadership commitment to equity may include:
- Providing leadership development equity workshops
- Enacting zero-tolerance policies for discrimination in the workplace
- Beginning a social responsibility initiative to ensure your company has a positive impact
- Building retention programs for employees of color
- Enmeshing diversity into existing business goals
- Establishing culture-change initiatives in the workplace
Prioritized Persistence Pays Off
The path toward justice in the workplace is curvy and rocky, and sometimes you will feel lost. You may feel like you’ve lost your way at times, but this does not mean that you failed. Setbacks are a part of the process. The key is that you persist, return to these 3 practices, and stay true to your vision.
For information about how to accelerate equity in your organization, enroll in Solution Co.’s Equity Impact Hub.