DEI&B Inc: Why it’s not fixed yet and what we need to do differently

  • The new standard of DEI is about transforming your company policies, operations, and culture to be inclusive of employees with various backgrounds.
  • C-suite and Sr. Leadership in line functions must drive DEI. Systemic transformation can’t start in a department designed for support like HR because the company culture comes from the line leadership, not from HR. Systemic change can be operationalized in HR, but the transformation must also be driven by line leadership.
  • DEI cannot be initially driven by decree, written rules, or policies about hiring or advancement metrics. Culture is about unwritten rules — the ones people actually follow. DEI is about human belonging; metrics dehumanize the initiative. Use metrics to hold the company accountable, not as a tool to initiate change.
  • Every leader will have to engage in self-study to understand how systemic inequity influences their own personal perspectives and how systemic racism has influenced corporate and government policies. Attempting to execute on DEI before leaders go through a personal journey of understanding will result in misinformed execution. This journey is easier than you may think.
  • Copying another company’s plan for DEI is like copying a book in a foreign language instead of learning the language yourself.
  • Leaders must personally come to their own determination of how much they value DEI, their personal beliefs on where it fits into business, and their personal convictions so that they can be honest about how far they are willing to go.
  • Leaders must patiently influence other leaders to critically engage with the notion of equity in the workplace. To do this, leaders must prepare for pushback that will include many reasons why DEI shouldn’t be prioritized instead of making it a core function. Popularity will not drive this issue; persistence will.
  • After a critical mass of leaders has invested personal time into understanding DEI&B through self-study or voluntary training and they choose to support it on some level, then the company is ready to make a strategic plan to create updated DEI&B policies and procedures. Policies and procedures can be drawn up and maintained by HR or by a DEI Council.
  • The company should use metrics and policies for accountability. Ideally, leadership should be held accountable for DEI&B in a similar way that leadership is held accountable for sales or profit goals in the company. DEI&B metrics should include a monthly pulse check of psychological safety and belonging. Analyze these numbers in a way that separates results by demographic quarterly to see how the company is doing.