8 Tips for Building a DEI Strategy

8 Tips for Building a DEI Strategy

The workforce is becoming more diverse, according to census data, there will be no racial or ethnic majority by 2045. Knowing how to create a workplace culture that works for these potential employees and makes everyone feel included is key to retaining and bringing in top talent. Having the right diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy is a great place to start, but developing the right DEI strategy for your organization can be difficult due to barriers such as a lack of leadership involvement, a lack of metrics, and ineffective training. Here are eight tips on how to build your DEI strategy for success.

Assess Your  Specific DEI Challenges

Creating a DEI strategy is a multi-step process, and the first step is knowing where you stand. For example, do you know if your company has a racial or gender pay gap? Do your policies need to be updated to be more accommodating for people with disabilities or who are neurodiverse?

You may feel hesitant about gathering metrics if you find, for example, there is a lack of representation in your leadership or that your company is not retaining Black talent or working parents, for example. However, being honest about where your organization is in its DEI journey is critical to getting better results.  After all, you can’t change what you aren’t aware of, or track areas of improvement if you don’t have any metrics in place. Don’t be discouraged by what you find and let it stop you from moving forward; instead, let it motivate you to make real impactful change.

Set a Goal and Choose Your Metrics

What does success look like for you when it comes to driving DEI in your workplace? It can be difficult to know where to begin; in this case, it can be beneficial to set a goal and work backward to determine what needs to be measured in order to accurately track what you’ve defined as success.

Ask yourself why your organization needs a DEI strategy. Is it because you want to better connect and serve a diverse customer base? Do you want to improve your culture to attract and retain diverse talent?  From your answer, set a relevant goal and metrics to measure.

For example, maybe retaining diverse talent is difficult for your organization. The plan would be to not only hire diverse talent but also to make sure you retain those employees by finding out what’s keeping them from staying and what needs to change within your culture to make your talent feel more included, whether that is closing a pay gap or creating more pathways to promotionThe next step is to make your goal something you can measure. for this particular goal, measuring your turnover rate for diverse employees may be the best metric.

Create Inclusive Hiring Practices And Policies

As an organization looking to make your DEI strategy a core part of your organization, you need to ensure that all feel welcomed and that they belong. This includes bringing belonging into your hiring practices and policies. Who are these policies potentially leaving out? How can it be changed to better encourage belonging?

For example, maybe your policy only allows paid holidays that could be considered ‘traditional,’ such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Floating holidays could offer paid leave on holidays that underrepresented groups celebrate.

Floating holidays can be:

Public holidays that don’t fall on the same day every year, such as Thanksgiving or Good Friday.
Extra paid time off or vacation time; this can be provided by an employer as compensation or as part of an employee’s benefits.
Substitution for another public holiday; this substitution can allow employees to take time off for special holidays or events.

Overall, offering floating holidays can ensure that employees from different ethnic backgrounds are able to celebrate holidays and events that are most important to them. Offering your employees these kinds of benefits can signal to diverse talent that your organization is a welcoming space for all.

Get Everyone Involved In Your DEI Strategy

Real change won’t happen if everyone isn’t on board with your DEI strategy, and this includes leaders as well as middle managers, who are key for creating inclusive cultures. A good DEI strategy could be set in place but without the aid and support of leadership, it’s most likely to falter. It’s important that leaders model behavior that reflects the values of DEI, not only to hold themselves accountable but to inspire their peers in their own DEI journey.  For example, leaders can speak for individuals who are often silenced while creating a safe space for others to speak  unapologetically.

And while there may be many barriers for middle managers when it comes to being DEI advocates, research suggests that managers don’t always understand the role they play in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and that this lack of understanding directly impacts their level of commitment. Offer concrete pathways for middle managers to get involved in DEI initiatives.

This means involving middle managers in creating the DEI framework and process, which will be unique to your organization. Doing so means middle managers will have more buy-in and be more likely to reach their goals, according to McKinsey & Company.

Involve your Employees

Having your employee’s feedback could lead to insights that help you see what’s working and what needs to be improved. Ultimately your DEI strategy is going to affect this group the most, so having their feedback and involvement is critical.

One way to do this is to track employee experience with pulse surveys. Executing of- the-moment surveys can offer valuable feedback in real time to help you get back on track and pinpoint potential inclusion roadblocks. Research suggests that questions should be tailored to seven key dimensions of inclusion for best results: fair treatment, integrating

differences, decision-making, psychological safety, trust, belonging, and diversity.

Ensure Your Team Is Properly Prepared To Implement The DEI Strategy

Does your team have the necessary tools and support to succeed in implementing your DEI strategy? Do your leaders know how to teach themselves and others the values of DEI? To ensure success, you can equip your leadership and employees with the right training for your organization. At Consciously Unbiased, we know that implementing a DEI strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all and that real change starts without shame or blame. Learn more about Consciously Unbiased’s training here.

Shift Your Focus From Experience To Skills

Hiring solely based on work experience and academic achievements can severely limit the range of talent your organization is exposed to. Focusing on skills rather than experience mitigates unconscious bias and allows talent from diverse backgrounds to be considered equally.

Take Your Time And Keep Adapting

Like any strategy, adapting your DEI strategy to your needs and limitations is critical. Remember that your DEI Strategy is an ongoing process; editing and adjusting are part of it. Don’t be discouraged by how long it could take to see change, real change comes slowly. Remember that DEI isn’t a box to be checked, and it’s not something you only do when the bottom line is good. Rather, those who play the long game and make it a core part of your strategies will create more sustainable organizations.

From inclusive leadership training to hiring diverse talent, Consciously Unbiased is your one-stop shop for learning experiences and solutions to help companies of all sizes build the framework for inclusive workplaces where all employees feel valued and engaged. Discover more about our DEI Training or browse our  DEI articles.


Alylah Burrola

Alylah Burrola is a Consciously Unbiased Marketing Assistant passionate about empowering minorities such as women and people of color. In her spare time, she loves to paint and read.
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