How to Get Started with DEI in the Workplace

Groupe d'employés souriants
Stories
Morgane Lança
June 20 2022

Have you heard about DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) and want to make it a priority in your organization? We’ve put together some tips from professionals and people directly involved to help you take your first steps in your business DEI policy!

1) Key Concepts to Get Started

Understanding the following key concepts is essential to building a relevant DEI policy. Therefore, a few definitions are in order before moving on to concrete actions!

Equity

Equity means that all people, regardless of who they are, are treated with consideration for their characteristics to help them achieve the same goals and results as their colleagues. Therefore, decision-making must be non-discriminatory and fair to all to maintain equity in your workplace.

Diversity

Diversity considers the culture and modes of expression of different groups (age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, ethnicity, disabilities, origin, culture, socioeconomic status…).

Inclusion

Inclusion is about creating an environment, through actions and decision-making, where all people are respected as individuals, are considered fairly, and have access to the same opportunities. In an organization, inclusion is a collective responsibility and requires identifying and removing barriers to people’s participation and contribution.

Intersectionality

Intersectionality considers how various factors influence lived experiences and discrimination (e.g., a black woman will have a different discriminatory experience than a white woman). Intersectional DEI ensures that we consider everyone’s reality while allowing diverse voices to resonate.

DEI Culture in the Workplace

DEI culture – or strategy – in the workplace means working with all of these concepts to make the workplace a fair, equitable space where equal opportunity is promoted.

Understanding that diversity ≠ inclusion is a must to get off on the right foot in your journey!

The biggest blind spot in EDI strategies? Believing that diversity leads to inclusion… instead, we should be talking about inclusion before diversity. And to talk about inclusion, we must necessarily talk about social justice and equity.” Elisabeth Petit, President and Senior HR Consultant

2) Examples of Notable DEI Issues in the Workplace

  • 47% of LGBTQ2+ workers have experienced discrimination or inapropriate behaviours based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation at work.
  • One in five women (20%) who did not report inappropriate communication or behaviour that they experienced at work stated that they feared negative consequences for their careers if they did so.
  • Nearly 80% of Black Canadians say that racism has damaged their relationship with their employer.
  • 67% of candidates look for workplace diversity when considering a job offer. Furthermore, over 50% of employees want their current employer to increase DEI efforts in their organization.

3) Education and Awareness

Progress begins with awareness! Opening the dialogue about inclusiveness and diversity is a crucial first step in your journey.

We recommend that you participate – and engage your teams – in dedicated workshops and training led by people concerned about the issue. Educating and raising awareness helps establish a healthy workplace by:

  • Showing your entire staff that you are making DEI an organizational priority;
  • Training the HR department to make the best DEI decisions;
  • Taking time to determine DEI training requirements among your teams;
  • Bringing everyone up to the same level of knowledge and awareness.

4) Re-structuring Your Organizational Policy

Progress should not be cosmetic or commercial, but deeply rooted in your organizational culture.” Elisabeth Petit, President and Senior HR Consultant

We recommend that you set up a dedicated DEI committee to ensure that the issue remains a priority throughout the year. Progress also requires re-structuring all your processes!

What would inclusive processes throughout the entire employee lifecycle look like? 

Recruiting

Generally speaking, women are more hesitant to apply for job opportunities if they are not 100% convinced that they meet all the selection criteria.” Myriam Jessier, Certified SEO Trainer at PRAGM

Inclusivity starts with the recruiting process. We speak from experience: you wouldn’t want to miss out on an interesting profile with an intimidating job posting!

For your job postings, we advise you to:

  • Use inclusive writing;
  • Erase adjectives such as ‘young’ and ‘dynamic’, to avoid showing an age preference;
  • Avoid listing too many requirements (differentiate required skills from ‘bonuses’): historically marginalized people tend to apply less to offers with too many requirements;
  • Mention that you encourage diversity in applications.

Employee Benefits

Offering benefits such as hybrid or remote work, parental leave, and flexible hours makes life easier for everyone.

You can also offer support and advice to promote mental health in the workplace. In short, make your organization a place where people come first.

Onboarding and Integration

For onboarding documents, as with all organizational communication, you should use inclusive writing and avoid assuming the hire’s pronouns. Remember to ask which pronoun to use and write it down!

Team-Building Activities

When organizing team-building activities where partners are invited, don’t automatically assume they will be the opposite sex!

Also, remember that not everyone drinks alcohol and that dietary restrictions or preferences are a reality for many people. Don’t forget to send out a survey in advance so that everyone has a good time – no need to go into further questions afterwards!

In short, considering everyone’s reality allows the entire team to have a good time together.

Performance Management

Feel free to use one-on-one meetings and performance reviews to ask your employees if they feel comfortable in their daily professional lives. We also encourage you to ask them what could be done to make to improve their workplace environment.

Another tip: make sure that your performance reviews are based on facts, not potential biases.

Of course, you should maintain these good habits throughout all your organizational processes.

5) Taking Part in Discussions and Representation

In addition to promoting diversity and inclusion in your organization, we recommend participating in representation and discussions on social media. This way, your involvement will be public and last all year long.

“You need to get involved in the community to show employees that inclusion and diversity are important to the company culture and that it’s not just “acceptance.” We can sponsor an event, have ambassadors, an inclusion committee, host a social event…” Alex Philibert-Smith, Human Resources Strategist

6) Listening, Learning and Improving

Dialogue and improvement are keywords for an effective DEI culture. Here are our tips for learning a bit more every day.

Encouraging Dialogue

How can we encourage dialogue? Why not by organizing activities that open up the discussion? For example, you can set up a large world map in your office, where everyone can ‘pin’ the place they are from! This simple activity not only improves team spirit and incites dialogue.

 

Continuously Improving Practices

Your staff is trained in DEI issues, and you have created a healthy organizational culture for everyone? Congratulations! However, now is not the time to rest on your laurels. There are always new things to learn: organizational DEI is a constantly evolving issue. Therefore, training on this topic must be an ongoing process!

 

7) Setting Concrete Goals and Measuring Your Progress

While it is difficult to set target figures for social inclusion in the workplace, it is essential to measure your progress to determine the relevance of your actions.

How do you measure your progress in organizational DEI? Trust your staff: survey them on their sense of belonging and well-being within the company. Engagement and work climate surveys provide concrete feedback on your actions.

If your teams feel right at home, you will have succeeded on all counts.

Make DEI an All-Year-Long Organizational Priority!

We know it’s Pride Month, but inclusion should be a company’s all-year-long priority! Avoid looking at DEI as an opportunity – except on a human level – and instead, see it as an everyday commitment.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to:

For their precious help in writing this article.

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