Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are hot topic words. If you don't believe me, head to LinkedIn, and behold the bounty. Organizations and companies in all industries, of all sizes, are realizing that having a sustainable DEI strategy will give them the type of social currency they need for sustainability.
"Everybody's bosses 'til it's time to pay for the office
'Til them invoices, separate the men from the boys, over here
we measure success by how many people successful next to you.
Here we say you broke if everybody else broke except for you.
— The Carters, Boss
As the Carters aptly remind us, being the boss requires more than just thinking of yourself and the bottom line. Having a DEI strategy is more than just a marketing ploy. It can be the catalyst to use our platforms as a voice—the voice of our culture.
You can create a robust DEI strategy with a few key ingredients: critical thinking skills, sincerity, and these three steps. So, let's get to it, boss.
Step 1: Create a diversity statement.
I can't stress how important this is; put pen to paper and make your vision for DEI in your platform real.
A diversity statement has two main components: a headline and the proclamation.
Here is an example of my diversity statement that I use to guide my teaching philosophy as a college professor:
You're More than a Student; You're a Scholar
Students learn valuable information to help master skills to use in the future. A scholar seeks knowledge and lends their expertise to an area of study. Scholars deserve a space for exploration and the opportunity to go beyond the bounds of a classroom. Your life experiences matter and are valid. In my class, you are a scholar.
The headline should be something bold and inspiring. The actual statement should be readable, sincere, and concise. I've found that some of the most provocative and inspiring diversity statements are less than 200 words.
Step 2: Create action items
Are you a creative who wants to make sure you share original voices from marginalized cultures? Do you want to partner with minority-owned businesses as part of your business model?
Remember my diversity statement in step one? Here are the action items that I created to accompany my statement:
- Giving students options on how to submit assignments
- Allowing students to discuss and consider controversial, non-conformist, or atypical topics in their work
- Create a safe space to have conversations, even uncomfortable ones
- Being willing to admit when I begin treating them like students and not like scholars and correcting myself
The point here is to start asking yourself how and make sure that you capture your sincere responses. Don't make promises you can't keep or actions that aren't sustainable. If this is your first go-round, keep it simple. Identify 2-3 action items that you can commit and deliver.
Step 3: Get the buy-in
If you have employees or partners, you must get their buy-in. They are going to help you propel these action items forward. So if you've got a team, include them in these first two steps.
Lastly, communicate your vision and your action items. If you have a website, your diversity statement and plan should be visible. Depending on your design, add it to your About section, or perhaps make it front and center on the homepage.
It should also be announced on your social media accounts and referred to often. Your audience must know where you stand and that this is an ongoing commitment.
As a bonus, create an end of the year Diversity Report and send it out in a newsletter and make it visible on your website. Showcase all of your DEI efforts and keep track of everything you accomplished. Think of it as a yearbook.
You don't have to be a major corporation to have a clear DEI strategy. Creating the DEI strategy isn't hard; it's sustaining and making business decisions that practice what you preach.