Best Practices for DEIB Action Planning
The most important aspect of employee surveying involves leveraging data to improve the employee experience. Despite its importance, many organizations struggle with identifying practical approaches to action planning.
When action planning around DEIB, it’s critical to leverage individual and team conversations to better understand ways to make improvements throughout the organization. Engaging in two-way dialogue with employees in response to survey results can ensure that employees feel heard, as well as allow the manager to better understand opportunities for improvement from the employee’s perspective.
While DEIB action planning will differ based on the listening maturity level of the organization, there are several best practices to consider when determining your organization’s action planning strategy. As you create your action plan, remember to always think through the impact the strategy might have on multiple groups throughout the organization. For example, some initiatives might benefit some groups more than others. Consider those differences and consult with the appropriate departments to proactively mitigate risk (e.g., legal, labor relations, HR).
Organization-Wide Action Planning: Creating Inclusive Organizations
Company-wide policies and practices establish the structure for inclusive organizations, as these policies codify expectations for how employees should interact with each other while creating transparency around the organization’s commitment to DEIB (Ferdman, 2014).
Prioritize Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Many organizations want to take on DEIB work without allocating the appropriate time, resources, and commitment. While something is better than nothing, effective DEIB strategy starts with a sound commitment from the leadership team. This includes:
- Clear CEO commitment
- Zero-tolerance harassment policy communicated by top leaders and HR regularly to employees, clients, customers, and suppliers.
- Budget for DEIB initiatives
- Designated person or group that is responsible for creating, implementing, measuring, and reporting on inclusion initiatives
- Inclusion of DEIB in all parts of the organization, as opposed to siloed within HR
- Creation and tracking of inclusion objectives, goals, and results
Commit to Transparency
An essential element of making progress in DEIB involves committing to transparency, as employees want to see the organization is being authentic, open, and honest about progress. Regularly communicating goals and progress can hold stakeholders accountable and reiterate that DEIB is a priority of the organization. Actions organizations can take include:
- Communicate DEIB goals, the individuals responsible for them, and processes for lodging complaints
- Internally share DEIB metrics and results
- Publicly post all position openings
- Create job ladders that detail promotional processes and criteria
A commitment to DEIB should be accompanied by a willingness to extend flexibility to employees, given that underrepresented employees often benefit most from these arrangements. Some suggested actions related to flexibility include the following:
- When possible, offer flexible work options, including flexible hours and remote work
- Offer extended parental leave and encourage its use
- Offer transition programs before and after extended leave to help with adjustment
A sense of connection between employer and employee as well as among employees can contribute to the success of DEIB action planning. Some examples of how to accomplish this include:
- Provide trainings on inclusive behaviors
- Create mentoring and sponsorship networks with executive involvement
- Cultivate and support employee resource groups (ERGs) for employees with shared identities or characteristics
- Ensure that ERGs are supported by leadership and have an executive sponsor
Leader-Level Action Planning: Creating Inclusive Leadership Practices
Because their efforts will have a considerable impact on the success of action plans, leaders are at the forefront of all DEIB action planning. Some steps leaders can take include:
- Communicate support for diversity efforts and trainings
- Offer advice to help employees advance
- Advocate for employees to have specific opportunities, such as leadership trainings and stretch assignments
- Evenly distribute high-visibility assignments and workplace housekeeping
- Create and clearly communicate transparent performance expectations
- Give constructive criticism in private, directly to employees
- Close the loop when employees lodge complaints or propose suggestions
- Clearly communicate available work/life benefits and programs – don’t penalize employees for taking advantage of them
- Join or form a mentorship network
- Use your influence to sponsor individuals who may not otherwise have internal organizational networks
Individual-Level Action Planning: Creating Inclusive Interpersonal Behaviors
Individual decisions and behaviors contribute to DEIB action plans in multiple ways, some of which can be easily overlooked if the individual is inattentive. Some ways individuals can foster inclusive interpersonal relationships include the following:
- Give your full attention, including eye contact to people communicating with you if possible
- Create an open dialogue about non-work parts of peoples’ lives – don't ask prying questions, but stay connected and build mutual trust and respect
- Communicate support if you know someone is going through something difficult or may be personally impacted by current events
- Don’t make assumptions about the values or life experiences of others based on stereotypes or generalities
- Believe people when they say something about themselves or their personal experiences
- Find appropriate moments for curiosity after building mutual trust
- Keep learning – find opportunities to leave your comfort zone and learn about the communities to which your employees belong
- Avoid harassment, microaggressions, and microinequities
Action planning is a make-or-break part of any survey strategy. Gathering data is one thing, but doing something with it is another. Survey fatigue stems from lack of action rather than too many surveys. Consequently, survey fatigue can set in if no action is taken from your DEIB survey.
Worse still, due to the nature of DEIB surveys, taking no action leads to employees losing trust in leaders and possibly even the organization itself. Ensure you communicate any actions you take, explaining why, based on survey results, you are doing this and why the actions you have chosen should lead to achievable results.
Perceptyx Can Help You Action Plan for Your Organization’s DEIB Success
An experienced listening partner like Perceptyx can help you extract the most value from your DEIB survey results. Our DEIB listening solutions enable you to action plan strategically, delivering world-class outcomes while evolving your listening program to meet ever-changing business needs. To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.
This is the final installment of our DEIB survey series. You can check out prior entries to learn more about interpreting and sharing your DEIB survey results, analyzing your survey data, and studying DEIB in the workplace.