4 Key Players You Need to Fulfill Your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Goals
As a leader at your organization, you want to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace. But you can’t do it alone. You need individuals across the company to jump in and support you.
Thankfully, people are opening doors and asking how they can support change. At Thomas Reuters, Elizabeth Nelson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, has noticed how many are coming to her team asking how they can help make a difference.
“I’m getting more and more asks from allies for more learning and development and time for reflection,” she said.
Elizabeth can’t offer a magic crystal ball that shows the future of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at Thomas Reuters, but she’s sure that improvement will come from working together.
“We don’t have all the answers about what will get us from point A to point B,” she said. “This is a collaborative effort that involves understanding, listening, and learning.”
Most leaders want DE&I to be a top priority, but how do you get from awareness to action? To do so, you need shared accountability across all levels and roles. Everyone in your organization– regardless of position– must play an active part in driving and sustaining change in your workplace culture.
According to Elizabeth, here are the four roles you need to support your DE&I goals.
1. Get leaders involved in DE&I
We can’t create better, more inclusive workplaces without our leaders.
Building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is not something to be delegated to one department. Change must be led by executives leaders across the organization, who must be fully accountable for the strategy and its implementation. Leaders also need to understand how initiatives intersect with business objectives and key results.
“Making a more inclusive workplace is not just the work of my department. It’s the work of everyone,” said Elizabeth. “For the rest of the year and beyond, we need to ensure our work is led by the CEO. It needs to be seen as a business imperative alongside other market and product opportunities.”
Everyone within an organization knows that leaders set the tone from the top. By committing to action, results, accountability, and transparency, they show how serious they are about effecting change.
Making change requires leaders that are willing to hold themselves and others accountable. They must be ready to learn and change, even if it means being vulnerable as they rise to the challenge.
2. Enable Employee Resource Groups
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are employee-led groups made up of team members who meet regularly based on common interests, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, or gender.
“At Thomas Reuters, our BRGs are seen as talent accelerators, inclusivity incubators, and status quo disruptors,” said Elizabeth Nelson. “They also give employees access to connections and opportunities within the organization.”
Regardless of position within the organization, employees can join these spaces to network internally and increase their impact. These groups share and test ideas, discuss topics such as how to promote diversity and work with leaders to move ideas into scalable action.
No matter what you call these types of groups at your organization, it’s essential to create space where diverse voices and experiences can be shared.
3. Empower allies with tools and resources to take action
Allies are those who want to actively support change within the organization, even if they are not in leadership or part of an ERG. These are people who are willing to commit to learning about their bias, start conversations, and strive to stand up when things aren’t right.
It used to be that an ally might be a bystander, but today, a true ally is an upstander. An ally recognizes when something is wrong, acts to make it right, and prevents it from happening again.
“Allies act both inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly, they develop self-awareness and work to correct their own bias. Outwardly, they call out inequities when they see them,” said Elizabeth.
In recent months, allies are asking for more learning and development in this space. They’re looking for resources and ways to support DE&I initiatives at their organization. You must empower allies with the tools and resources to take action. Otherwise, individual actions may not be as impactful or scalable to the broader organization.
4. Push talent leaders to create equitable systems
Talent leaders need to prioritize efforts that foster empowerment, access, and trust, all of which are critical to DE&I efforts.
“Talent leaders can serve as ‘structural inclusion architects,’ putting equitable systems in place that mitigate bias,” said Elizabeth. “They can also take corrective action if bias occurs.”
Of course, it can be hard to pinpoint precisely where bias lives within your organization, but data can help talent leaders make improvements. “It’s imperative to examine and analyze the data and objectively assess how diverse and inclusive your organization really is,” said Elizabeth.
You can further identify pain points by directly connecting with employees. This can be done via empathy research, listening sessions, and tapping into ERGs, as we mentioned earlier.
Creating a more equitable organization
No matter what your role is at your organization, it takes several contributors to make meaningful change. Your employees, regardless of background, must feel heard and understood. Even more importantly, they must see that the organization takes action based on what they share.
“At the end of the day, we all play a role. It's not up to leadership, employee resource groups, allies, or talent leaders alone,” said Elizabeth. “We've all got to pitch in to make our organizations more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.”