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Ten steps to prioritise D&I

Williams-Johnson: Diversity targets alone are not enough to create inclusion
"Dispel myths and biases through education and training," eQuality Solutions' head of people and culture advises

The diversity and inclusion (D&I) clinic is a space for HR professionals to anonymously air their challenging D&I questions. Camila Williams-Johnson tackles how to keep D&I at the top of business’ agenda.

Q. In the current climate of corporate backlash to diversity and inclusion, how can HR ensure that D&I stays a priority?

A. In recent media coverage, a concerning narrative has emerged regarding the corporate world’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Elon Musk’s provocative statement in late 2023 (“DEI must DIE,”) alongside reports of prominent brands like Asos cutting DEI-related targets, has sparked widespread attention. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that diversity targets alone aren’t enough to foster inclusive cultures.

Read more: Turning intentions into outcomes: how businesses can make DE&I meaningful 

True inclusion demands the ongoing integration of DEI principles throughout an organisation. It is a sustained effort which, research has proven, will enhance profitability and overall success.

In the face of a potential backlash against DEI efforts, at EW Group we see HR professionals increasingly seeking our guidance on navigating these challenges. It’s crucial to remain steadfast in our commitment to DEI.

Inclusive workplaces aren’t built overnight; they require deliberate, long-term efforts to embed DEI principles into every aspect of organisational culture.

To ensure DEI remains a priority amid external pressures, HR professionals can implement 10 proactive steps:

1. Communicate the business case for diversity and inclusion, showcasing the vast amount of publicly available research on the positive impact of DEI on innovation, creativity and financial performance.

2. Collect and analyse data to track progress and measure the impact of DEI initiatives, celebrating successes and identifying the areas in need of improvement.

3. Foster leadership accountability. Once you have senior leadership’s buy-in, hold leaders accountable for driving DEI initiatives at all levels.

4. Address misconceptions head on. Proactively dispel myths and biases through education and training, fostering a culture of understanding for all employees.

5. Embed DEI in organisational DNA. Integrate DEI into the core values and mission of the organisation, emphasising its importance.

6. Engage employee resource groups (ERGs). Empower ERGs to drive DEI initiatives, advocating for underrepresented groups and implementing inclusive strategies.

7. Create inclusive policies and practices. Review and revise policies to ensure equity and fairness in recruitment, evaluation and advancement opportunities.

8. Build partnerships and allies. Collaborate with external partners to amplify DEI efforts and share best practice.

9. Lead with transparency and authenticity. Cultivate a culture of openness where staff feel empowered to contribute to DEI strategies.

10. Stay resilient and persistent in the journey towards creating a more inclusive workplace and society, despite temporary setbacks.

HR professionals can play a vital role in safeguarding DEI within organisations. By embedding DEI principles, HR professionals can ensure that DEI remains a steadfast priority, driving positive change and fostering a culture of belonging for all.

Camila Williams-Johnson is head of people and culture for the eQuality Solutions Group, which includes the diversity, equity and inclusion specialist consultancy, EW Group.

This piece was published in the March/April 2024 issue of HR magazine. Subscribe today to have our latest articles delivered to your desk