DEI Initiatives That Can Make Your Business Better

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have proven to help employers attract top talent and convince high-performers to stay for the long term.

Conversely, organizations that lack any concerted DEI initiatives whatsoever have seen high employee churn and low retention rates, in recent years.

  • Lever’s 2022 State of DEI report found 49% of businesses — many of which lack dedicated DEI goals and programs — have trouble retaining workers.

Ada DEI & People Operations Lead Kareen Onyeaju said culture-shifting DEI initiatives impact just about every company’s ability to hire and keep premier employees today.

“Your potential to attract diverse, top-tier candidates relies on enhancing the culture on the inside,” Kareen wrote for BenefitsPRO. “And this has a direct effect on how your employees interact with your customers and … how your business is perceived by the outside world.”

The big question for your company: What specific DEI initiatives can help you attract and retain high-quality talent and build a world-class org people are proud to work for?

5 DEI initiatives that can positively impact both your company culture and bottom line

The term “DEI initiatives” can be deceiving. It implies the need for a dedicated person or group of people whose main job is to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

  • The truth is you don’t necessarily need one or more full-time DEI professionals.

Many people at your business — including you and others on your talent acquisition team — play a pivotal role in developing a more equitable and inclusive environment for employees and building a genuinely diverse workforce.

Here are five tried-and-true DEI initiatives HR and TA experts discussed at Accelerate that your company can implement to make your business a highly diverse, equitable and inclusive one candidates want to work for and evangelize on your behalf.

dei initiatives communication from leadership about diversity

1) Establish clearly defined DEI goals

Basis Technologies Director of Talent Acquisition Michelle Michael noted how her company built a DEI “task force” to define diversity, equity and inclusion goals at Accelerate

These goals give leaders across the business, including those in TA, the structure they need to best contribute to critical DEI-centric objectives that impact everything from company culture and the employer brand to revenue growth.

“It’s more than just a passion” for DEI leaders hired to promote diversity and inclusion, Michelle said. “It’s a skill set. It takes work, right? A leadership-level DEI practitioner and team is absolutely necessary to move the work forward in a sustainable and long-term way.”

2) Revisit your recruiting and hiring process

Attentive Chief of Staff, Recruiting Cierra Tavarez shared during Accelerate how her organization diversified the makeup of its candidate pool amid the pandemic, when the business — unlike many others globally — picked up hiring considerably.

“The way that we were thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion when we were in a period of hyper-growth was really that we have [high-volume hiring goals] to hit and that created just a natural opportunity to diversify our pipelines from a recruiting perspective,” said Cierra.

“And that’s created just sort of a natural flow of underrepresented candidates into our interview processes and getting in front of diverse opportunities,” Cierra added.

3) Mandate DEI training for all employees

Diversity training entails educating employees — from the C-suite to entry-level workers — about key terms, concepts, trends and best practices tied to DEI.

As Michelle said, diversity training also raises awareness of the barriers that deter companies and their staff from driving DEI efforts forward — particularly around their recruitment of diverse candidates.

“We try really hard to make sure candidates are having an equitable experience … throughout the interview process,” Michelle said during our DEI Accelerate session.

“For us, this means giving all candidates who interview with our teams a resource guide to prep them,” Michelle added. “It also includes prep and resources on virtual interviewing, interviewing best practices, and background on our company.”

On the flip side, all interview panelists are also given clear guidance on how to ensure the interview process is inclusive, Michelle stated.

dei initiatives celebrating diversity

4) Create a culture of inclusivity with ERGs

Highly diverse companies have many individuals from historically underrepresented groups working at their orgs. This diverse workforce establishes a level of psychological safety for workers and encourages them to form or join employee resource groups (ERGs).

These ERGs can be for people of different genders and sexual orientations, individuals with certain disabilities, and members of specific ethnicities or races.

As Cierra relayed, though, ERGs can also be created for those with other traits or interests, like ones for working parents and those passionate about certain business fields.

For instance, Cierra noted how people of color and women in engineering at her company who join ERGs can “have a reasonable expectation that they are joining a space where they are not going to be the only one who looks like them in a room.”

Cierra added that she thinks it’s best to “devote resources to safe spaces for shared experiences.”

5) Build DEI-centric career mobility paths

At a high level, many businesses understand the need for concerted career mobility programs that give all employees a path to move into new positions on or outside their teams.

At a more granular level, orgs with strong DEI initiatives understand they must ensure equitable lateral and upward mobility for their workforce so people of diverse backgrounds have equal opportunity to grow internally.

Michelle said proactively engaging tenured diverse employees about moving into new roles can show newly hired diverse employees there is a viable career-progression course they can chart within the business to advance their careers as desired.

Consistently promoting diverse talent means “you are more likely to foster an internal environment where people of color, people of underrepresented backgrounds are likely to thrive,” said Michelle. “That’s because they see people in the position where they want to be.”

Discover the roles dedicated DEI initiatives and programs play in employee experience. Download our special 2022 State of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report today.

lever 2022 state of dei report

Further reading