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7 Strategies for Implementing Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

You want to improve diversity and inclusion in your workplace. That’s great, but you need a roadmap to help you get to where you want to go. Your attempts are only as good as your plan, and diversity and inclusion initiatives are the foundation for that plan because they act as the outline of specific issues you should tackle. Whether you want to promote the use of more inclusive language in your organization, prevent unconscious biases from hindering the diversity recruitment process, confront problems with sexual harassment, or boost the retention of employees from underserved communities, your D&I initiatives will be the framework for your goals and detail ways to achieve them. 

How to Implement Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives 

Your strategies need to be customized. D&I initiatives are not a one-size-fits-all affair: In order for them to be effective, you can’t just cut and paste the initiatives you heard your competition adopted, or strategies you read about on the Internet, and think they’ll necessarily be applicable to your own workplace. The following tips can help you create and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives that make sense specifically for your organization.

1. Compile and Review Data

Do you know exactly who is in your workforce? Collect data to find out what demographics are and are not represented at your company. Look at all categories to find shortfalls in diversity—whether it be race, gender, veteran status, age or an intersectional mix of different groups. As you analyze this information, it will become clear where you need to focus your hiring, as well as how inclusive your work environment is for the talent you do hire.

2. Identify Pain Points

As you look at your data, are there any glaring pain points in your organization that you need to address? Maybe you don't have any workers on a leadership level that come from underrepresented backgrounds. Maybe you don't have enough women in a specific department of the company. Whatever your pain points are, the data you've collected will reveal them so you know what kind of initiatives you need to enact.

3. Create Business Objectives

When producing initiatives that focus on things like the culture of your organization and your hiring process, it's also important to look at how diversity will ultimately boost your bottom line. For example, if your goal is to increase sales to specific demographics, you need to have people who are members of those groups in your workforce so their voice will help you understand what's important to these communities. This will also signal to the public—which include potential talent or customers—that diversity and inclusion are important to you.

4. Get Support From Leadership

Having D&I initiatives is great, but without a buy-in from your organization’s leadership, you may not be able to get that far with them—even after you've identified the business case for the strategies. Support from senior management means they will champion the initiatives throughout the organization and set an example for everyone else to follow, which will increase engagement when the initiatives are put into place.

5. Implement Initiatives

You’ve done the research. You’ve done the legwork. Now it’s time to implement your diversity and inclusion initiatives and begin taking action. For example, if one of the initiatives is to recruit more employees from black and brown communities and ensure retention, you'll want to include action steps that address sourcing talent, the interview process, creating an inclusive environment for the employees you do hire, and offering equitable compensation that will keep them happy. Don’t forget, your initiatives should be based on measurable goals and your plan should include thorough strategies to achieve them.

6. Publicize the Initiatives 

Once you have initiatives in place, you need to let everyone in the organization know about them because this should be an all-hands-on-deck effort. If your goal is to recruit more veterans, for instance, you can set up a referral program to encourage workers to tap into their own networks and make suggestions for talent—but everyone needs to know about this initiative for engagement to occur. Additionally, you need to externally communicate what your initiatives are so the community knows what your company is prioritizing. This will help attract talent, as well as potential customers and business partners.

7. Measure Results

Along the way, you need to know how successful your initiatives have been to hold your company accountable. You may need to tweak D&I initiatives at some point, so be sure to measure results, review the data, and figure out ways to improve your process to make it more successful.

Your D&I efforts need a strong foundation to be successful, so going through the process of creating diversity and inclusion initiatives will help you understand the areas you need to improve and outline specific steps to achieve your goals. These suggestions can help you create strong D&I initiatives that will help you attract the talent you want and make your workplace more inclusive and equitable.

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