Welcome to our Women Who Code Advocacy Toolkit, a guide to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within your workplace. This toolkit will give you a deeper understanding of DEI, offering ideas and tools to help you implement DEI best practices and culture in your organization.
You may have encountered “DEI,” as many organizations prioritize building more diverse, inclusive workplaces. More specifically, DEI can be defined:
- Diversity: Refers to the variety and differences among people in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, neurodivergence, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, family situation, educational background, and more.
- Equity: Involves ensuring fairness and impartiality in the distribution of resources, opportunities, and benefits. It recognizes that individuals have different needs and strives to address those differences to promote equality of outcomes. Equity goes beyond treating everyone equally and instead focuses on providing each person with what they need to succeed.
- Inclusion: Creates an environment where all individuals feel welcomed, respected, and valued. It involves fostering a sense of belonging and actively involving everyone, regardless of their differences. Inclusive practices aim to break down barriers, promote equal participation, and harness the benefits of diversity by creating a culture where everyone's perspectives are heard and considered.
These three components — diversity, equity, and inclusion — form the foundation for building positive and supportive workplaces. In the following sections, this toolkit will give you ideas for cultivating DEI in your organization — it’s essential to keep the definition of “diversity” in mind when taking these actions to ensure you are creating a workplace that equitably includes everyone your organization supports.
DEI goes beyond workplace initiatives and should be the root of any responsible organization. DEI involves acknowledging, respecting, and valuing each individual's unique attributes. But a diverse and inclusive workplace is more than just the right thing to do; it's a strategic necessity. DEI profoundly impacts workplace success. Specifically, through inclusive practices, you can:
- Attract top talent: Numerous studies, including those by McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group, have found that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more appealing to a broad talent pool.
- Reduce turnover: Research published in the Harvard Business Review and studies by Deloitte indicate that organizations with inclusive cultures tend to experience lower turnover rates. Employees are more likely to stay with companies where they feel valued and included.
- Improve employee morale: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Gallup have reported on the positive correlation between inclusive workplace practices and higher employee morale. Inclusive environments foster a sense of belonging, which is closely tied to overall job satisfaction.
- Gain a positive reputation: Corporate social responsibility, including a commitment to diversity and inclusion, can enhance an organization's reputation.
- Improve your bottom line: Studies, such as those conducted by McKinsey and Harvard Business Review, have found that companies with diverse leadership teams often outperform their less diverse counterparts financially. Diversity in decision-making can lead to better innovation and problem-solving, contributing to overall business success.
Elevating DEI in your organization is a tangible action you can take to improve nearly every aspect of your organization — and to contribute to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry workforce.
Making the shift from awareness to action is the first goal in implementing DEI practices. In this section, this toolkit will offer suggestions for tangible actions your organization can make to understand your current level of DEI success, elevate awareness about DEI, develop best practices, and facilitate a culture of continuous improvement.
1. Initiating DEI in Your Organization
Like any journey, to know where you are going, you’ll need to know where you are starting. Take these actions to include your stakeholders and understand the current state of your organization:
- Get leadership buy-in: Ensure commitment from top leadership to implement a diverse culture of equity and inclusion, including a DEI audit and policy review — and a commitment to make necessary changes. More on getting stakeholders on board.
- Create a DEI Committee (Advisory Board and/or Task Force): Form a DEI advisory board with representatives from various levels and departments or even external stakeholders. The dedicated team or task force are responsible for overseeing DEI initiatives, including a DEI audit and policy review and working with leadership to implement necessary changes. More on creating a DEI Committee.
- Clarify goals: Clearly define the objectives of your DEI commitment, considering both short-term and long-term goals. More on creating DEI goals.
- Identify scope: Determine the scope of the DEI initiative, including what will be audited and the departments, processes, and practices to be assessed.
2. Understanding Where You Are
- Review policies and practices: Evaluate existing recruitment, promotion, compensation, and employee conduct policies for potential bias. Assess HR procedures, including hiring, performance reviews, and promotions, to identify potential inequities. More on reviewing your employee handbook and overall policy assessment.
- Check legal compliance: Ensure all policies and practices comply with relevant diversity and inclusion laws and regulations. More on compliance.
- Collect data and analyze: Collect and analyze demographic data of internal employees, as well as external stakeholders like suppliers and contractors, including race, gender, age, and other relevant factors. Examine compensation data to identify any gender or ethnicity pay gaps. More on data and DEI.
- Get employee feedback: Gather anonymous feedback through surveys and conduct focus groups to understand employees' perceptions and experiences. Review feedback from exit interviews and workplace review sites (e.g., Glassdoor) to identify patterns and potential areas of concern.
- Evaluate communication and branding: Evaluate internal communications for diversity and inclusion language and messaging. Assess external branding and communication materials for diversity representation. More on inclusive communications.
- Benchmark: Compare your organization's DEI efforts against industry benchmarks and best practices. Consider benchmarking against peer organizations to gain insights into effective strategies. More on benchmarking.
Based on your review and evaluation findings, you can make an action plan, prioritizing areas that require immediate attention as you establish clear, measurable goals in cultivating DEI in your organization.
3. Building Your Framework
You’ll need a solid base on which to build your DEI culture. Your organization evaluation will help you identify gaps in your DEI initiatives, which may lead you to:
- Craft a DEI mission statement: Develop a clear and concise DEI mission statement aligned with the company's values. Communicate the mission across all channels to reinforce its importance and integrate the mission into organizational goals and performance evaluations. More on writing a DEI mission statement.
- Establish inclusive recruitment practices: Implement blind recruitment processes to minimize unconscious biases. Set diversity targets for recruitment and track progress regularly. More on inclusive recruitment practices.
- Ensure pay equity: Regularly audit and assess salary structures to ensure pay equity. Address any identified disparities promptly and transparently. Communicate the commitment to pay equity to all employees.
- Support diverse leadership development: Create mentorship and sponsorship programs for underrepresented employees and provide leadership development opportunities tailored to diverse talent. More on developing diverse leadership.
- Promote inclusive language: Encourage using inclusive language in all internal and external communications. Provide guidelines on what language to use and avoid. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable correcting language that may be unintentionally harmful.
- Integrate DEI into policies and procedures: Update HR policies to reflect DEI principles. Embed DEI considerations into decision-making processes. Communicate policy changes and their rationale to employees. More on DEI policies.
- Implement Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Establish ERGs based on various dimensions of diversity (e.g., gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ+). Support ERGs with resources and a platform to organize events and initiatives. More on starting an ERG.
Like any growing thing, your DEI initiatives will need nourishment. To continue feeding DEI culture, you can:
- Celebrate diversity: Celebrate cultural differences and bring awareness through activities, events, and holidays. More on celebrating diversity.
- Conduct DEI training and sustain continuous learning: Implement regular DEI training sessions for employees at all levels, including cross-cultural training. Use interactive and engaging methods to ensure active participation. Focus on raising awareness about unconscious biases and microaggressions. More on DEI trainings.
- Acknowledge diversity role models, leadership, and advocates: Showcase diverse role models within the organization through internal communications. Share success stories emphasizing the value of diverse perspectives. Acknowledge and celebrate individuals who contribute to DEI efforts. Integrate DEI accomplishments into performance evaluations and recognition programs.
- Engage in community outreach: Extend DEI efforts beyond the workplace through community partnerships. Support initiatives and organizations aligned with DEI values. Encourage employees to participate in community service and outreach. More on DEI community engagement and volunteerism.
5. Monitoring Your Progress
Regularly assessing your progress will allow you to adjust strategies and monitor and measure DEI efforts. Work to:
- Measure and track your DEI metrics: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) related to DEI. Regularly track and report on DEI metrics to leadership and employees. Use data to inform decision-making and identify areas for improvement. More on DEI metrics.
- Regularly assess the DEI climate: Conduct regular surveys or focus groups to gauge the DEI climate within the organization. Use the feedback to identify areas for improvement and celebrate successes. Ensure anonymity to encourage honest responses.
- Report regularly with transparency: Share initiatives, policies, findings, and progress with employees to promote transparency. Provide regular updates on DEI initiatives and achievements. More on creating a DEI report.
While this toolkit is not comprehensive, it will give you the tools to begin cultivating a cultural shift by embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into your organization's values and long-term vision. We encourage you to explore the following resources to grow your DEI knowledge.
Legal Advocacy and Human Resources
This toolkit is a starting compass for cultivating a workplace culture that celebrates diversity, promotes equity, and fosters inclusion. Remember that DEI is not a destination but an ongoing process, and we’re here to support you on your journey.