Developing a DEI Strategy in 4 Steps

By Association for Diversity in Financial Talent

A successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy is important to a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, shareholders, and the wider community. 

Employees are often particularly invested in DEI efforts, as a more inclusive workplace can lead to greater job satisfaction, increased retention rates, and a stronger sense of community within the organization. 

Customers also value companies that prioritize DEI, as it demonstrates a commitment to fairness and equality. 

Shareholders may be interested in DEI initiatives as they can lead to improved financial performance and reputation and mitigate risks related to discrimination and bias. 

Finally, the wider community can benefit from a company’s DEI efforts, as they can help promote social justice and improve the well-being of marginalized groups. 

Follow the 4 steps below to develop your own comprehensive DEI strategy as a crucial step in building an inclusive workplace and creating a culture of belonging for all employees within your organization.

Define Your Goals and Objectives

Start by identifying what you want to achieve with your DEI strategy. Do you want to improve diversity in your hiring, create a more inclusive culture, or both? Consider how your DEI strategy can help your organization to achieve its overall mission and vision. 

What are appropriate DEI goals? 

DEI goals can vary depending on the specific organization and its unique challenges and opportunities. However, some common goals that companies may consider include: 

  • Increase Diversity
  • Reduce Bias
  • Foster Inclusion 
  • Increase Equity

It is important to note that these goals are not mutually exclusive and often overlap. An effective DEI strategy will consider all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion and work towards creating a comprehensive plan that addresses the unique needs of the organization and its employees. 

Conduct a DEI Assessment

Before developing a strategy, it is important to understand the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization. Assess your current policies, practices, and culture. Use data from your  survey to identify areas where you need to improve. 

What are the elements of a useful DEI Assessment? 

A DEI assessment typically involves collecting data on various aspects of the organization, analyzing the data, and identifying areas where the organization can improve. Some of the key elements of a DEI assessment include: 

  • Demographic data: Collect data on employees and leadership, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and ability. 
  • Employee engagement: Use surveys or other methods to understand how employees perceive the organization’s DEI efforts and identify areas for improvement. 
  • Policies and procedures: Review these to ensure they promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and identify areas that need revision or new policies.
  • Recruitment and retention: Analyze demographic groups to identify disparities and determine strategies for improvement. 
  • Training and development: Assess and ensure they promote DEI and address potential biases. 
  • Community engagement: Evaluate relationships with diverse communities and identify opportunities to build stronger business partnerships. 
  • Communication: Assess communication strategies to ensure they are inclusive and promote DEI. 

Overall, a DEI assessment should be a comprehensive and ongoing process that involves collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources to identify areas where the organization can improve its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 

Communicate and Train

Your DEI strategy will not be effective unless everyone in the organization is on board. Communicate the strategy and the rationale behind it to all employees and provide training to ensure everyone understands their role in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. 

What is the best way to communicate DEI strategy? 

The best way to communicate a DEI strategy is through a clear and concise message that is tailored to the audience and DEI vision. Here are some tips for effective communication of a DEI strategy: 

  • Start with a clear vision statement
  • Use plain language
  • Tell stories
  • Use data
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Provide training and resources
  • Measure progress
  • Be transparent
  • Provide feedback 

What are the most effective DEI training strategies? 

There are several effective DEI training strategies that organizations can implement to educate employees and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Some of these strategies include: 

  • Cultural Competence Training: Teaching employees about diverse cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking to promote understanding and respect for diverse backgrounds. 
  • Bias Awareness Training: Identifying unconscious biases that people may have and providing strategies to address and overcome them. 
  • Inclusive Language Training: Teaching employees how to use language that is inclusive and respectful to all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. 
  • Active Listening Training: Developing active listening skills, which are crucial for effective communication and understanding of different perspectives. 
  • Allyship Training: Employees focusing on how to become allies and advocates for marginalized groups, and how to use their privilege and influence to promote DEI in the workplace and beyond. 
  • Leadership Training: Helping managers and executives develop the skills and knowledge needed to lead diverse teams and create an inclusive work environment.

It is important to note that effective DEI training should be ongoing and integrated into the organization’s culture, rather than a one-time event. Regular check-ins and feedback opportunities should also be provided to ensure the training is positively impacting employees and the organization. 

Monitor and Evaluate

Continuously monitor and evaluate your DEI strategy to ensure that it is achieving the desired outcomes. Use data to measure progress and adjust your strategy as needed. 

What are the best DEI metrics to monitor? 

There are several DEI metrics that can be monitored to track progress and measure the effectiveness of a company’s DEI initiatives. Some of the most used metrics include: 

  • Demographic data: Data such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation can help to identify any disparities in representation and ensure that diverse candidates are being recruited and hired. 
  • Employee engagement: Use surveys and other feedback mechanisms to help to gauge how employees feel about the company’s DEI initiatives and commitment to  a more inclusive workplace. 
  • Retention rates: Track by demographic group to identify any groups that may be leaving the company at higher rates and determine if there are barriers to retention that need to be addressed. 
  • Promotion rates: Monitoring demographic groups can help to identify any disparities in career advancement opportunities and ensure equal access to career development opportunities. 
  • Pay equity: Conducting regular pay equity analyses can help to ensure that employees are being paid fairly regardless of their gender, race, or other demographic factors. 
  • Supplier diversity: Tracking the diversity of suppliers and vendors can help to ensure that the company is supporting diverse businesses and creating economic opportunities for underrepresented groups. 

It is important to note that while these metrics can be useful in tracking progress and identifying areas for improvement, they should not be viewed in isolation. DEI is a complex and multifaceted issue, and it is important to take a comprehensive approach to monitoring and evaluating DEI initiatives. 

DEI Supports Your Organization’s Mission 

By following these steps, you can develop a comprehensive DEI strategy that supports your organization’s mission, vision, and values, and creates a more equitable and inclusive workplace for all. Companies that stay committed and invested in DEI efforts improve business results across the board. 

Contact ADFT to learn more about customizing DE&I plans, policies, and procedures to enhance your company’s ability to attract and retain top-performing employees.