Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a journey. You cannot simply make a few changes and expect to move the needle in any meaningful way. Nor can you make meaningful contributions and expect them to make a difference once you’ve shifted your focus.
If you want to maintain a diverse and equitable workplace long-term, it’s important to make an ongoing, intentional effort.
Live and breathe your inclusive company culture
An inclusive company culture is the foundation for long-term workplace diversity and equity. It guides each team member in areas like hiring, promotions, compensation, and their interactions with others. But if it’s not often demonstrated or discussed, it can be quickly forgotten.
Keep an inclusive company culture alive by demonstrating it in word and deed. For example, if you find there’s low representation of women in leadership roles at your company, don’t be afraid to discuss the issue internally. Ask team members for feedback around why the problem exists, and what can be done about it. And the next time a leadership role opens up, ask team members for strong female candidates—whether internal or external.
Measure what matters
Keep an eye on your DEI key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can see when specific areas require your attention. For example:
- Representation. Track representation of each demographic and intersectional group overall, and by job level, department, and location. Compare that to the demographics of your area or industry to understand where you have gaps.
- Promotion rate. Compare your overall promotion rate to promotion rates by group, and do the same for time to promotion. Dig in further by identifying the specific team members who appear to be overdue for a promotion, and why.
- Pay equity. Compare average total compensation and compa-ratio by group. Identify pay gaps, and dig in to determine what’s causing them.
- Turnover. Compare turnover rate and average tenure by group. Look for patterns in the reasons people from different groups leave your organization.
- Talent pipeline. Look at how many candidates from underrepresented groups you have in your talent pipeline. Then look at conversion rates by interview stage for each group, to see if there are bottlenecks you need to address.
Staying on top of your KPIs can help you identify problems early, and correct them quickly.
Keep learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion
DEI is a vast, constantly evolving practice. There will always be something new to learn—or a reminder of something once known and forgotten. Make it a point to continue learning new ways to think about DEI, address it, and improve it at your organization.
- Attend unconscious bias training
- Hire a DEI speaker for a company-wide lunch and learn
- Watch a DEI webinar
- Listen to a DEI podcast
- Discuss DEI strategies with colleagues from other organizations
Learning more about the issues and problems faced by different groups, and how to address them, are important for maintaining a diverse and equitable workforce long-term. Make sure to set aside a budget specifically for this purpose.
Regularly collect—and address—feedback
As your workforce changes, so too might their needs. Collect feedback often through regular employee surveys, stay interviews, exit interviews, review sites, and recommendations from your employee resource groups.
Whenever possible, pair feedback with demographic data to understand how the employee experience differs by intersectional group. For example, you may find that Black men feel they are being paid fairly, but that Black women do not feel the same. If you were only looking by gender or race, you may not have found this difference.
When you identify problems, take steps to address them. This not only improves the employee experience for those affected, it encourages team members to continue providing feedback. A constant feedback loop is crucial for maintaining a diverse and equitable workplace long-term.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a quick fix—it’s a long-term commitment that requires intentionality at every turn. Always keep it in the forefront of your mind so you can weave it into your decision-making process. For example, when choosing new benefits, evaluating new software, or revamping your employee onboarding program. Consider how each decision can further your goals in this important work, to help you maintain—and improve upon—a diverse, equitable workplace.