While DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) efforts are increasingly becoming a part of most organizations’ plan for workplace development and culture, many struggle with how to put their commitments into words. How do you articulate your dedication to… hiring a diverse workforce? Creating and maintaining safe spaces for all employees? Investing in staff development and continuous learning? Summing up something so broad can be daunting! And while it’s important to develop a solid DEI statement, it doesn’t have to be hard. So let’s get into it.
What is a DEI statement, anyway?
A DEI statement is a formal articulation of your company’s commitment to hiring a diverse workforce, while also cultivating an environment of inclusivity and a culture of belonging. It should evoke a sense of your organization’s dedication to prioritizing the needs, voices, and perspectives of marginalized groups.
What does diversity mean to your organization?
The first step to writing a cohesive DEI statement is to be clear about what diversity actually means to your company. This requires intentionality and input from employees at every level of your organization. Tasking HR with the development of this statement excludes the rest of the people who actually live and implement the values that you will outline. Moreover, allowing for diverse perspectives and opinions (a hallmark of DEI practice!) shows your commitment to the work from the start. So take some time to identify what diversity means for your organization and be clear about why it’s a part of your value system.
How will you demonstrate those values?
Once you have determined the value of diversity to the company, you should consider developing a plan that illustrates to employees, stakeholders, and customers how you’ll demonstrate that it is an integral part of your practices moving forward. It’s easy to draft a statement that sounds good and feels great to say, but if there’s no action behind it then the aforementioned process is pointless. Construct a plan of action for how your team will embody DEI in all practices, beyond those that are required by law (we can help you with that!).
What to say and HOW to say it
The tone of your statement is just as important as the message itself. While diversity is a serious subject, it’s important to embody the culture of the company within your messaging. Not only will the statement be consistent with your brand, it will also feel organic to consumers who are already familiar with the way you roll (so to speak). Deviating from your style may read as performative or inauthentic, which would be counterproductive to your diversity efforts. It’s also alright to be upfront and honest. Authenticity in your DEI statement is going to be key. No one organization has figured everything out. If you’re still working on certain areas or efforts, consider naming that as part of your statement. Own up to where your organization is today, and what you’re striving to be in the future.
The best DEI statements are those that grab your attention with meaningful, bold assertions. They make people stop and take notice of what you have to say. And since this is becoming more of a common practice, you want to make sure that you’re not just rewording what someone else said, but rather constructing an honest expression of the organization’s dedication to centering DEI in all aspects of business.
Keep it simple
Most diversity statements are not incredibly lengthy and top out at about 75 words. You want to construct a statement that is powerful but concise. If it’s too long, you begin to enter TL;DR territory, in which people start to tune out and your message becomes lost. Aim for a direct, bold statement followed by a few sentences of clarifying text that solidifies your position.
Writing a diversity statement should flow from your answers to a few key questions (we’ve outlined them below). If you find it difficult to answer any of these questions, perhaps this is a sign for you to spend some time assessing internally and listening to various groups of stakeholders first, and then return to this exercise. Some key questions include:
- Why is this important to us?
- What are our goals relating to diversity, equity, inclusion?
- How do we define these terms as an organization?
- How do we currently incorporate or include DEI within our organization?
- How do we hope to or plan to include DEI within our organization?
- Is there data we can cite?
- Are there specific things that we are already doing well that we can point to? (For example, employee resource groups, inclusive benefits, etc.)
- How does our DEI work tie back to our values?
- Have we involved voices from all aspects of our organization in the creation of this statement? (Or, whose voice is missing?)
With all these tips in mind, go forth and start your brainstorming and crafting process! Let us know how it goes and what you come up with.
Need more hands-on help crafting a statement that gets to the heart of DEI in your workplace? Learn more about our consulting services. To see more videos about DEI in the workplace, follow us on YouTube!