10 DE&I Leaders 'Pass The Torch': 10 Things You Can Do To Personally Make A Change

Diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I), is everyone’s responsibility. Part of creating a culture that's welcoming for everyone is understanding that, beyond your diversity & inclusion team, everyone can play a part.

To help you personally make a change, we asked DE&I leaders and business owners for their best insights. We asked "What's one piece of advice you would give to others in your organization, to help them do their part to create a culture of belonging for their colleagues?"

From allowing others to take the lead to marking each culturally significant day, there are several tips that may help you to create a culture of belonging at work.

  1. Allow Others to Take the Lead
    Immerse employees into your company culture directly, and right from the start, by having new employees put together a small networking event. For instance, if your team works remotely, suggest that the new hire would be interested in planning an online event to help break the ice with others on your team. If you are onsite, allow the new hire to plan a lunch of their favorite foods. This will help them get to know other team members in the organization, build trust, and share a bit about them.  Also, by having them lead a project in which they are able to interact with others within your organization will help them get acclimated with others outside of their immediate team members.

    LT Ladino Bryson, vCandidates.com

  2. Be Conscious of the Language They Use
    As a DE&I leader, it is important to remember that everyone in the organization has something to offer when it comes to diversity and inclusion. When giving advice to others in the organization, it is important to emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion, and highlight how everyone can play a role in making the workplace more inclusive. It is also important to be aware of your own biases, and work to overcome them in order to create an inclusive environment for all employees. One piece of advice that DE&I leaders can give to those in their organizations is to be conscious of the language they use. Making sure that everyone is aware of the implications their words have and using terms that everyone can understand will help create an inclusive environment. Additionally, leaders can encourage people to ask questions and seek clarification if something is not understood. This will help ensure that all voices are heard and everyone feels welcome in the conversation.

    Chris Panteli, LifeUpswing

  3. Use the Right Technology to Bring Everyone in the Room
    Avoiding an "us vs. them" mentality is a challenge when you have a mix of hybrid and remote employees. But by reworking your meetings, you can create an inclusive work environment for all employees no matter where they work from. Many managers continue to hold discussions in a conference room with in-house employees separate from Zoom meetings with remote workers. This can lead to dropped details and misunderstandings among teammates. Investing in technology that ensures everyone on the team can participate via video conferencing bridges any communication gaps between your in-house and team members. A meeting experience that enables the whole team to participate wherever they work brings everyone in the room.

    Shaunak Amin, SnackMagic

  4. Hide Profile Pics to Focus Better On Top Talent
    While LinkedIn is a powerful business networking tool, it's also a robust talent acquisition platform. However, HR professionals that use LinkedIn Recruiter to evaluate potential candidates' qualifications may unintentionally overlook top talent due to unconscious bias. Fortunately, LinkedIn came up with a solution to help companies advance their inclusion initiatives. Recruitment teams who source the site can now select the Hide Candidate Photos and Names option. This feature works to reduce bias by replacing a candidate's profile pic with a nondescript avatar and generating a random set of letters for their name. Recruiters can then focus more on a prospect's qualifications and skills. As more and more job seekers turn to LinkedIn to search out new careers, the Hide Candidate Photos and Names feature will create equal access to opportunities for them and help build more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

    Jason Sherman, TapRm

  5. Practice a Gratitude Loop
    Practice creating a loop of gratitude and positive feedback to create a culture of belonging for everyone in the office. Encourage everyone to think of something they’d like to thank or commend a colleague for and have this loop pass on from one colleague to another. Thanking or commending someone for a nice thing they did makes them feel seen and validated.

    Brogan Renshaw, Modelers Central

  6. Offer Floating Holidays 
    In order to ensure a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), it’s important to make sure that company culture isn’t unconsciously biased against certain groups of people. For example, if a company has an annual Christmas party and doesn’t acknowledge non-Christian holidays, employees who follow other religions may feel excluded. A better way to include all employees is for holiday celebrations to be non-denominational and to offer employees floating holidays that they can take off to celebrate when they want to instead of closing the company offices for a specific holiday.

    One way to discover if there are unconscious biases is to ask employees if they feel that there are ways the company could improve its DE&I. Another is to look at hiring and employee data. If there are departments within the company that aren’t very diverse, then that may be a sign of unconscious biases in hiring as well as in company culture.

    Dave Rietsema, Matchr

  7. Participate in Employee Resource Groups
    Leveraging employee resource groups (ERGS) is an opportunity to develop talent and help others learn from these groups in a safe space. ERGs help in building a culture of connection and belonging among colleagues. It should be easy for everyone to share their different thoughts and opinions. Employees and everyone involved should ensure these groups foster an environment where contributions from everyone are encouraged. Senior leaders should also get on board to help increase visibility and awareness among other employees and align the ERG activities with the business's culture and goals. Ultimately, cultivating inclusion is an evolving process with constantly moving targets. You are never done.

    John Tian, Mobitrix

  8. Share Knowledge, Concerns, Questions and Ideas
    If we are to build organizations that have DEI top of mind, the workplace has to be one where people are encouraged and feel safe to share concerns, questions, ideas and knowledge. Every employee can help make the workplace a psychologically safe place by taking responsibility for creating an open culture and environment. Often people shy away from talking about topics that are uncomfortable or are typically known as "the elephant in the room". I would encourage leaders and employees to speak confidently about what is important to them and the organization without fear of being punished for having their say. If each employee is committed to driving a culture of belonging through open engagement, an organization will likely see increased innovation, creativity, and employees who are empowered to do more.

    Archie Payne, Caltek Staffing

  9. Collect Feedback from All Levels of the Organization
    People must know that their opinion matters regarding belonging in an organization. When you see things happening around you but you are not invited to contribute or participate, that is a problem. Asking all levels to the table, so to speak, and letting them choose if they want to offer feedback or not makes them feel valued and heard. The input can be given in focus groups, surveys, town halls, and department meetings, to name a few. However you choose to collect the data, the point is that the offer to give feedback happens, and it is and feels genuine to all concerned.

    Aikyna Finch, Finch and Associates, LLC

  10. Mark Each Culturally Significant Day
    One way to help others feel included is to recognize days of significance to their culture. We feel that we all know what is so special about the days we ourselves celebrate, and we tend to think that everyone shares them. But for many cultures, other days are more significant than 4 July or 25 December. Check for days that are meaningful to members of your team and make a point of marking them in a suitable and appropriate way.  Once we feel that everyone is helping us to celebrate, a spirit of unity will soon develop.

    Jonathan Zacks, GoReminders

Keep learning - free webinar

In this webinar, learn more about how your organisation can be more consciously inclusive, especially towards people with hidden disabilities and neurodivergences. Hear from DE&I experts at Next, Cundall, and Adjust Services. Gain practical strategies to encourage inclusion. Takeaway the recording, slides, videos, guides, case studies, and more.

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