In recent years, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) have come to the forefront and its importance became more widely accepted in theory. However, some organizations pay “lip service” to the concept without actually making meaningful changes, and others would like to make a positive difference but aren’t sure how.
So what can workplaces do? The following are seven key points for workplaces to consider in implementing EDI efforts:
Check your unconscious bias
Unconscious bias refers to any bias that can affect your behaviour or decisions without you even realizing it. Often, it is based on inaccurate, incomplete or mistaken information. For example, you might think a white male is more competent than a woman of colour, which can significantly impact who gets hired and promoted within a workplace. Consider conducting unconscious bias training within the workplace, especially for anyone who is involved with recruiting and/or managing employees.
Hire someone with expertise in EDI to assess the workplace
One of the first steps to addressing EDI concerns is to hire an EDI expert to assess the workplace. You can then identify issues of concern and develop a plan to improve the workplace in line with your EDI goals. After all, you cannot fix what you cannot measure.
Ensure you have the proper company policies and training in place to prevent and address discrimination
Many employers do not have the proper policies or training in place to prevent and address discrimination despite having a legal obligation to do so. It is critical that you comply with your legal obligations and not only have the proper policies in place, but also train your employees. We can assist you to prepare such policies and implement them.
Feedback should be a dialogue
As you work on implementing EDI efforts, it is important to ensure that feedback is a two-way street. What are the problems your employees currently face? What do they think is going to work? What do they think is not going to work? Make it easy for employees to provide ongoing feedback without any fear of reprisal.
Encourage diverse candidates to apply, but work on retaining them by being truly inclusive
While it may be nice to be able to say that X% of your employees are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC), that is not enough to be truly inclusive. If you encourage diverse candidates to apply, you also need to put in the work to ensure there is inclusion in their day to day working lives. For example, after being hired, a practicing Muslim might feel excluded if social hours only consist of drinking alcohol (or if you have virtual cocktail nights without non-alcoholic options). Think about ways to include, and ways to not exclude, individuals within the workplace.
Ensure there is diverse representation at senior levels of the organization and that their voice is heard
You might have a higher percentage of BIPOC in the workplace than you did before; however, perhaps those in senior positions are mostly (or all) white, male, straight and able bodied. As an employer, you can ensure there is diverse representation at senior levels of the organization. In addition, you should ensure that their voice is actually heard and that you are not subscribing to tokenism.
Promote pay equity within the organization
Having diversity at senior management levels of the organization is not the end all and be all. It may be that employees’ pay varies significantly based on their skin colour or other discriminatory factors. In addition, managers may exercise their discretion to pay out bonuses in a discriminatory manner (note that they do not need to intend to discriminate for there to be a finding of discrimination). You can consider implementing structured/non-discretionary bonuses instead of purely discretionary bonus payments. In addition, you can consider implementing a transparent pay grid to ensure pay equity within the organization.
There is a lot that you can do as an employer to ensure diversity and inclusion within the workplace. The question is no longer when but how, and it is time to put in the work to be truly inclusive.