This June, we’re not just celebrating the start of a (hopefully) long, hot summer. No, it’s also Pride Month — a time to embrace and celebrate anyone who recognises themselves as LGBTQ+! One of the ways we can help, not only LGBTQ+ people, but all underrepresented employees, feel safer and happier at work is to implement a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) policy.
Keep reading to find out what to include in your policy and be the change you want to see in workplaces worldwide...
What is a DEI policy?
A DEI policy has a few different purposes. One of these is to promote a welcoming and diverse workplace, where discrimination and bullying are not tolerated. The benefits of having a diverse workforce are endless, from increased creativity to faster problem-solving and lower employee churn.
Another reason you might want to set up a DEI policy is to highlight your values and priorities – both internally and externally. Boasting about your values on your Careers page is one thing, but actually seeing this through in day-to-day work is another thing altogether. So following a DEI policy can do wonders for both recruitment and retention.
Having a DEI policy in place can also help to establish you as a leader in the LGTBTQ+ space. It demonstrates how forward-thinking you are as a business, setting you up to be a great role model for others. In fact, 74% of companies now have a DEI policy to show for themselves, so what are you waiting for?
What should a DEI policy include?
The first thing you might want to include in your policy is a DEI statement. This is a written expression of your company’s commitment to DEI along with any actions you’re taking. For example, Spotify’s DEI statement is “At Spotify, we welcome you with an inclusion mindset, one that prioritizes growth through listening and learning. No matter where you come from, or what’s playing in your headphones, we want to create a place where you belong.”
Then, you’ll want to remind anyone reading the policy of its purpose. Maybe you’re intending this document to make sure all employees are treated fairly, regardless of whether they’re part time, full-time or contract workers. Or maybe you’re committed to preventing gender-based discrimination when it comes to pay and benefits. Or, hopefully, both! Try to cover as many categories as possible, including age, disability status, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Too often, when people think of diversity, the first thing that springs to mind is the colour of your skin. But it’s a whole lot more wide ranging than that.
It’s important that your DEI policy aligns with your company values. This helps to tie back all the great work you’re doing and remind employees why they started working with you in the first place. Slack, for instance, considers “thriving” to be one of its core values. And this is demonstrated through Slack for Good, a set of initiatives giving underprivileged people the opportunities, support and training they need to thrive at work.
Remember to use inclusive language in your DEI policy, too. Only reference personal attributes or characteristics when it’s relevant to the context you’re talking about, and avoid using stereotypes or making assumptions about certain groups of people. A simple glossary of definitions might help anyone unfamiliar with certain phrases or acronyms to feel more clued-up.
How to set the wheels in motion
Once you’ve got your DEI policy in place, it’s time to communicate it to your teams as much as possible! Whether that’s including it on your workplace intranet, pinning it to the top of a Slack channel or referencing it in your new joiners’ handbook, don’t forget to shout about it. You could even host it alongside your other policies on your dedicated benefits platform, like Ben.
If people don’t know such a policy exists, how do they know what kind of employer they’re working for and what kind of rights they have? Plus, pulling a policy like this together isn’t an overnight job, and your efforts deserve to be noticed.
But how do you know if it’s working?
Before you go overboard with the laminator and blue-tack your policy to every inch of the office, remember that you might need to make changes. It’s not just a box-ticking exercise where you draw up a policy and forget about it. Think of it as a living, breathing document that can be improved over time.
Once you’re happy with the first version of your policy, kickstart a series of surveys to gather employee feedback. You could ask for people’s initial thoughts once the policy is live, and then send a reminder survey every few months to find out how effective the policy is on a day-to-day basis. This is the best way to check that your policy is working for everyone and not leaving anyone behind.
Maybe surveys have historically been a flop at your company. If that’s the case, you could create a slack channel for people to share thoughts and questions instead. Consider making all feedback anonymous so you know you’re getting your colleagues’ honest opinions. If you wanted to go the extra mile, why not set up a DEI committee at work to discuss and implement the feedback to make sure it’s working for everyone?
Now you know what to include in your DEI policy, use Ben’s template to create your own. Let us know how you get on, and don’t forget to share your ideas with other businesses! The more effort we all make to embed diversity, equity and inclusion into our workplaces, the better the talent we’ll attract and the better the work we’ll do.