Building a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Organizational Culture, and Where to Start When Considering an Organizational DEI Assessment
Creating, supporting, and sustaining an inclusive, equitable work culture where all staff members are comfortable and effective (no matter employee/volunteer background or experience level) is imperative for organizational success. To gauge areas for organizational inclusivity improvement, review the following:
- When the last time a DEI review was performed to assess staff experience and uncover areas for improvements?
- Are the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and dignity for all reflected in your organizational culture?
- Do you have a written vision statement and or strategic plan for DEI? If it exists, when was it last updated and is it being used to educate the staff and promote a positive culture?
- Do you continue to promote your organizational beliefs and stand up and make room for all voices?
- Do you insist on a culture of respect, and recognizes that words and actions matter? The absence of action and words also matter.
- Do you believe in the freedom of speech, and encourage the civil and respectful expression of ideas and opinions?
- Do you share in the responsibility to create a positive culture and to safeguard equity, inclusion, dignity, and respect for all?
- Do you have a culture that takes action when you observe someone being treated unfairly or in a demeaning manner? What systems are in place? How can this be fostered?
- Does your organization have DEI based issues that are evident? Could there be underlying issues that not being discussed?
- Does your organization have the capacity to lead a nonprofit DEI assessment/audit, and or should you consider hiring a DEI consultant?
If any of these questions leave you without a clear and concise answer further DEI work and commitment could significantly benefit your organization. Consider the following 10 steps to foster DEI in your workplace.
Ten Steps to Commit to Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace
- Learn and understand the terms/definitions and issues surrounding DEI.
- Have a vision for your DEI values and communicate your goals via a DEI strategic plan and or vision document. Make sure your organization leadership is unified and promoting your DEI vision.
- Review your organizations DEI issues via surveying the staff and being open to learning how you can be a more inclusive organization.
- Educate your managers and all staff about inclusion and how to promote an inclusive workplace. Attend conferences focused on diversity and take a proactive approach to education and promoting the culture your organizational beliefs.
- Make inclusion part of your employee onboarding process. Preach, advocate, and promote that inclusion is an integral part of your organizational values.
- Start using and promoting the use of pronouns so individuals can choose how there are referred to and be less impacted by assumptions or intensity.
- Have a strategy to mitigate unconscious bias. Educate, challenge assumptions, make your culture one that is open to overcoming bias.
- Double check your organizational policies and current culture to ensure your policies are inclusive, equitable and are open to all.
- Set diversity goals for organization and hold yourself accountable. Seek to understand others and celebrate differences. Make all staff at any level feel included and valued.
- Hire a DEI Consultant and form a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and encourage communication as an organization. Understand that this work needs to be ongoing and continuous to successfully promote and hold an inclusive and equitable working environment.
The Importance of DEI Consultants/Continual Policy Review
The landscape of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion best practices and laws is ever evolving. The information provided is not legal advice nor should be taken as human resource advice for your organization or region. We highly advise having a DEI consultant and/or legal review of any policies for your organization prior to implementation.
DEI consultants can help your organization:
- Help determine how inclusive your organization currently is
- Develop a strategic DEI plan
- Review and revamp organizational policies and programs
- Help you to identify issues and make an actionable plan to improve
- Run workshops and trainings
- Advise organizational leadership to grow diverse organizations anchored on equity and inclusion
- Help ensure your organization is the best that it can be
DEI Information and Resources That Can Help Educate Your Organization
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- How To Be An Inclusive Leader by Jennifer Brown
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Raising Our Hands by Jenna Arnold
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
Online Articles/Blogs on DEI Issues:
- National Equity Project Blogs
- “America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer | Atlantic
- Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement (Mentoring a New Generation of Activists
- ”My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” by Jose Antonio Vargas | NYT Mag
- How White People Got Made by Quinn Norton
- The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The 1619 Project (all the articles) | The New York Times Magazine
- The Combahee River Collective Statement
- “The Intersectionality Wars” by Jane Coaston | Vox
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups developed by Craig Elliott PhD
- ”White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Knapsack Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic
Now Is the Time
Creating, ensuring, and continually fostering an inclusive, equitable work culture is a strategic advantage for organizations who leverage DEI practices. Organizations and companies that are more diverse and inclusive are more successful and create greater impact in their programs/work. We hope this list of readings and topics is helpful in your organizational journey of learning how to best build a diverse, fair, equitable and inclusive work culture.
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