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  • Writer's picturePolina changuleva

What makes an effective and impactful DE&I strategy?

Common pitfalls and how employers can avoid them, as well as ways to engage employees with your DE&I efforts from the start

Question: In your mind, what makes an effective and impactful DE&I strategy?

  • Understanding that diversity without inclusion is ineffective - you can hire all the diverse talent you want but if you don’t make them feel welcome and safe, if you don’t treat everyone fair and don’t provide the same opportunities to everyone working for you, it’s only a matter of time before they leave

  • Don’t assume you know what people need - ask them instead

  • Change your perspective on inclusion from a compliance item to a key element of your business strategy - make it tangible and measurable and report on it

    • 78% of people believe that companies' Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives are just a "tick box" effort rather than creating real change so people can distinguish real care and investment from one off performative actions

  • Be clear on what problems and challenges you’re addressing - you simply can't tackle everything at once and do it well. Set 3-5 organisational goals for the year and make significant progress on them

  • Self awareness all day long - without awareness we are all victims of our biases and we all have them! On the other hand knowledge of our conscious and unconscious biases is essential for intentional and meaningful change both on individual and organisational level

  • Leaders need to act as role models to set the tone of a work environment - without leadership support and activism any DEI strategy is destined to fail

Question: What are some of the common pitfalls, and how can employers avoid them?

  • No two businesses are the same so not knowing what your specific business challenges when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion are equates to ticking the box for the sake of being seen to do the right thing instead of actually evening the scales for underrepresented communities

  • Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk - DEI needs to be at the front and centre of your business strategy and everything you do from recruitment to procurement and partnerships

  • Accountability over perfectionism - your employees want to see you do more and do better and in the process be open and honest enough when you get it wrong. They’d much rather see you do something to move the dial than hide out of fear of getting it wrong - I’ve seen many good companies lose key talent because of lack of transparency and effort

Question: How can employers make sure they involve and engage their employees from the start?

  • Put your employees at the heart of your DEI efforts and strategy after all your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy is there for them and should be shaped and created on the back of their input and feedback

  • Create permanent feedback channels and emphasise your commitment with 2 way communication - DEI is a journey, forever evolving and ongoing

  • Open dialogue is crucial - hosting safe space discussions on various aspects of DEI or even current events are a great way to understand your employees, get insights into employee sentiment and attitudes (eg. 2 year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd or the conversation on abortion rights in the US, trans rights in the UK)

  • Driving change is everyone’s responsibility - think about creating Employee Resource Groups, Racial Justice Teams, Culture teams to name a few

Question: How do employers keep the engagement in a DE&I strategy high?

  • Leadership commitment is imperative

  • Unwavering vulnerability and transparency from leadership

  • Gather and implement employee feedback regularly - it’s the best way to keep engagement high and keep employees committed to your strategy

  • Allow people to share their true feelings and opinions without a fear of retaliation

Thank you for reading! Check out the rest of our blog for more insightful DEI content.

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