Should You Create a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Your Workplace?
Diversity and inclusion committees are becoming increasingly widespread in workplaces around the world. But while they certainly can have benefits if they’re set up and run effectively, they can also put the burden of building diversity on your more diverse employees.
So how can you create a diversity and inclusion committee in your workplace that has a positive impact on your employees without making members responsible for your organization’s diversity? Here’s what you need to know.
Diversity and Inclusion are Important
Increasing diversity and inclusion in your workplace is not only the right thing to do – it’s also good for your business priorities. In fact, 76% of job seekers and employees say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when they’re evaluating companies and job offers.
But only 55% of people say that their employer has policies in place that promote diversity and inclusion. And 45% of US workers have experienced discrimination or harassment in the last year.
When done right, a diversity and inclusion committee in your workplace can help create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce for all employees. However, simply announcing the creation of a D&I committee that lacks real power to implement change won’t make a difference.
And assigning only the more diverse leaders or employees to the committee puts all the burden of change on their shoulders, which is unfair and also makes lasting change less likely. Instead, approach your committee creation with thought and care.
How to Build an Effective D&I Committee
Know Why You’re Creating a Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Creating a diversity and inclusion committee simply because it will look good on your annual report, or because competitors are doing it, will not yield the best results. Some critical questions to ask before you form your committee include:
- What are your current DE&I issues?
- Do you have expertise on DE&I internally?
- Will this initiative start your DE&I journey, or is it part of an existing strategy?
- How are people currently engaged in D&I issues and discussions?
The Types of D&I Committees
There are two main types of D&I committees – you should determine which one works best for your organization. You can even include both types once your D&I journey is more advanced, as they can be more powerful together.
A committee of members who are senior leaders and have decision-making power in the organization. This kind of committee works to engage senior leaders who will embed inclusion in their departments, and be active and prominent advocates of inclusive practices.
A committee of junior to mid-tier employees from different backgrounds, providing insights from different perspectives. These members share their insights and perceptions of what it is like to work at your company, how initiatives are progressing in their view, and what they think your workplace should prioritize. It’s not their role to implement initiatives – you need a dedicated D&I leader to do that.
Gain Leadership Commitment and Participation
Your diversity and inclusion committee will not succeed if it lacks authentic, significant leadership buy-in. While D&I committees can recommend changes, implementing new policies and procedures and holding the organization accountable happens from the top.
Senior leaders must be encouraged strongly to participate in the D&I committees and associated initiatives. And assigning committee roles to only women, people of color, or LGBTQ+ leaders won’t work – you need leaders of all kinds to actively participate.
Define Your Goals and Outputs
What are you hoping to achieve with your committee? These goals should incorporate current areas of concern in your organization, such as a lack of women and people of color in leadership positions or unequal pay.
Your committee goals should be SMART ones – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. And you should have a strategy for communicating these goals and the work of your committee to both senior leadership and the company as a whole.
Measure Your Achievements and Outcomes
It’s vital to measure the outcomes of the initiatives that your diversity and inclusion committee has put into place. How much did diversity increase in your hiring process, or in your leadership ranks, or in other target areas?
Measuring these outcomes and communicating your committee’s successes shows everyone at your workplace that your business is truly committed to increasing diversity and inclusion, and making progress.
If you’re looking to increase diversity and decrease bias in your hiring process, Cangrade can help.