DEI policies and practices.
Many organizations consider DEI a mindset, a way of looking at organization, collaboration, and getting things done. Creating policies is a practical step to facilitating this mindset and ensuring its long-term success and sustainability.
Why? Because policies are an accessible guideline for employees and leaders to base actions and behaviors on. In a fast-changing organization, they are a reliable base to fall back on if needed. Practices can change rapidly, and DEI policies will help you ensure equal treatment of your staff throughout the years.
Action 1: essential DEI policies
Action 1: Essential DEI policies
There are three types of DEI policies, each with a specific impact.
What? A high-level overview of your organization’s DEI mission, vision, and values and your commitment to DEI.
Impact? This text must inspire. It is a starting point. All specific equal opportunity policies come from the commitments described in this text.
Example? Here you go.
Impact? The desired effect of these policies is to protect employees from discrimination or harassment by colleagues, leaders, or partners at work, allowing them to do their job in a safe environment. They can also help people signal or report undesired behaviors or practices.
Is a policy enough? For most companies, this kind of policy helps them comply with national laws for employee protection.
Often there is a need to actively train and remind employees of the content of this policy, especially after reported incidents of discrimination or harassment. In addition, leaders need to role-model, coach, and provide employees feedback to encourage the preferred behaviors.
It is essential to integrate information about your report/complaint procedure. For example, where can employees report bias, discrimination, or harassment incidents, who to notify, which support to expect, and what follow-up procedures are in place?
Example? Here you go.
What? Besides the inspiring DEI statement and compliance-driven non-discrimination and harassment policies, organizations can create additional policies targeting specific areas. Those are tools with concrete guidelines for staff to ensure equal opportunities. For example, describing ongoing actions that the organization commits to.
Impact? The areas targeted in specific equal opportunity policies depend on the organization’s needs and the priorities defined in the DEI Strategic Plan.
Areas of impact can be:
Overall, policies guide staff in their actions, define the organization’s and employees’ responsibility, and ensure a stable interpretation and execution of a mission and vision in those areas in the long term.
Example? Here you go.
Should we integrate DEI into existing policies or create dedicated DEI policies?
That depends on your starting point.
If your current policies already reference DEI topics, you can build on them and extend the policies where necessary.
If you start from scratch, you can go either way. Reflect on which option will make the policies most accessible and visible in your organization.
No matter the option, collaborate with your legal or communications department to create explicit policy texts that are easy to understand and implement.
Action 2: from policies to practices
Action 2. From policies to practices
Good policy = good practice?
Having good policies is one thing. Putting them into practice consistently throughout the organization is entirely different. Policy interpretation and execution of follow-up depend on the department, level, team, or individual manager.
That, of course, negates the goals of these policies, i.e., ensuring equal opportunities for all.
What is needed to have an egalitarian implementation of DEI policies throughout the organization?
Action 3: communication
Action 3. Communication
Typically, significant policies are created with much care by a dedicated team, after which one of two things will happen:
Both are not ideal. Information that helps ensure equity is essential, but realistically, only a few people will take the time to look for it.
Collaborate with your legal or communications department to create explicit policy texts that are easy to implement.
Become a DEI expert.
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