Is your organization striving to create a more inclusive work culture? If so, you’re not alone. Many HR and business leaders are committed to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). But some strategies are more successful than others. What methods are actually moving the meter these days?
To understand what works in the real world, we asked eight business executives to tell us about effective DEI changes they’ve implemented during the past year. Their collective answers read like a best practices playbook:
- Improve Meeting Policies to Support Wellbeing
- Review and Revise Job Offers
- Establish Employee Resource Groups
- Share Diverse Employee Experiences
- Shift Pay Structure to Base Salary and Bonus
- Introduce Mental Health First-Aid Support
- Prioritize Leadership Paths for Women
- Intentionally Redesign Teams for Diversity
For details about these ideas, read the responses below…
How to Become More Inclusive: 8 Examples
1. Improve Meeting Policies to Support Wellbeing
As part of our commitment to workforce wellness, we addressed recent employee feedback about excessive meetings and pandemic-related burnout. Specifically, we emphasized the importance of taking small actions to reduce meeting frequency and duration, so we could ease stress for everyone. For example:
- We send regular calendar blocks so everyone can conduct brief “meeting audits.” This is when employees use our Meeting Decision Tree tool to review upcoming meetings and determine the necessity.
- We’ve recommitted to scheduling meetings only within core business hours (9:00 am – 4:00 pm) to promote reasonable work-life balance and family time in the evenings.
- We’ve designated Friday afternoons as meeting-free time. This enables people to focus on creative assignments, catch up on projects, and prepare for the week ahead.
Our new practices and resources are improving wellbeing. They’re also facilitating better collaboration, problem-solving, productivity, and innovation.
2. Review and Revise Job Listings
During the past year, we have intentionally revisited the way we write job ads. We’ve always made sure our offers are inviting, clear, concise, and accurate. However, we felt it was time to address other details so we could hopefully increase diversity among candidates.
The results are visible to the naked eye. Now, I am super happy to look at our diverse teams, knowing that our attention to rephrasing may have made it easier for people to join us.
These were our priorities when reviewing and improving job listings:
- We used truly gender-neutral language.
- We highlighted the importance of skills, so it’s clear that this is the decisive factor in our hiring decisions.
- We listed job requirements only if they were absolutely necessary. You never know if needless demands are unintentionally excluding people.
- Finally, we reviewed job titles and descriptions to ensure that they are truly inclusive and free of biased language.
3. Establish Employee Resource Groups
Our organization has been attempting to improve inclusivity by enhancing our approach to diversity and inclusion training. For example, we have created employee resource groups (ERGs) to provide a safe space for employees based on their identity or shared experiences.
These ERGs serve as proactive networks that help members build communities, collaborate professionally, and work together on initiatives that promote inclusivity across the organization. They also help our organization understand uncommon experiences and points of view, while ensuring that everyone is respected at all times.
Michael Alexis, CEO, teambuilding.com
4. Share Diverse Employee Experiences
For any organization that wants to build a more welcoming culture where everyone feels they belong, raising awareness about inclusivity is vital. However, it’s not always easy to understand the difficulties that other people face — especially when those difficulties aren’t highly visible.
This is why we’ve been providing opportunities for employees from across the organization to share their unique stories. Specifically, we invite everyone to discuss the unique difficulties they face, along with advice on how peers and managers can be more helpful. They also answer questions from others in the organization.
By sharing employee experiences, we’re spreading empathy across our organization. This helps team members build stronger bonds and creates a more positive, inclusive work environment.
5. Shift Pay Structure to Base Salary and Bonus
Although our industry traditionally pays employees on a commission-only basis, we’ve adopted a compensation package that includes base salary plus a performance bonus. This gives employees better financial security and peace of mind. Also, we feel it helps ensure our clients receive the best impartial advice from every agent.
What’s more, this move promotes more inclusivity. That’s because sponsorship and mentorship are integral aspects of mobility for people of color and other underrepresented employees. But commission-only pay can derail vital team relationships and breed a culture of competition that further divides people.
We encourage our people to collaborate in establishing performance metrics that will promote better team cohesion and move us collectively toward our DEIB goals.
6. Introduce Mental Health First-Aid Support
During the last year, our organization has focused heavily on promoting employee mental health. In particular, we’ve focused on making our workplace safe for people with any kind of neurological difference, such as ADHD, dyslexia, or autism.
As part of this effort, two of our staff members completed mental health first aid training. Now, people across our organization know that if they’re struggling, they have somewhere to go where they will be heard and supported but not judged.
This effort has been very well received. In fact, it’s been so successful, we’ve recently trained two more mental health first-aiders.
7. Prioritize Leadership Paths for Women
People expect modern organizations to provide an inclusive work environment. And this responsibility for creating a welcoming work environment for all falls on the management team. This is why we’ve essentially created a women in leadership program designed to help women from all backgrounds achieve their professional aspirations.
Unfortunately, many businesses don’t promote single mothers into leadership. That’s because they assume women won’t have the time or commitment to succeed. But in my experience, these women tend to be more driven than average.
Long ago, I started my company as a single mother. I understand firsthand just how hard it can be to juggle personal and professional life. But I also know how committed women in this situation are to keeping their promises to customers, employees and family members.
Our organization wants to reward this kind of commitment. That’s why we assist women of all ethnicities and backgrounds as they work towards a degree or a leadership position in our company. We want to help women in our company shoot for the stars and reach them.
8. Intentionally Redesign Teams for Diversity
We recognize the value of diverse perspectives and experiences in driving innovation and fostering a more inclusive work environment. So, one action we’ve taken this year to enhance diversity involves remixing our teams.
Specifically, we deliberately redefined the composition of teams across departments and projects. Our goal was to better represent the diversity of our workforce within smaller groups. Therefore, when reassigning team members, we considered factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, and skill sets.
By intentionally rethinking the composition of our teams, we’ve aimed to break down silos, encourage collaboration, and promote the cross-pollination of ideas. By bringing together individuals with different perspectives, expertise, and life experiences, we hope we’re better positioned to harness the collective intelligence and creativity of our workforce.