In the working world, DEI has rapidly gone from being a nice perk to an essential component of business. Companies know that a DEI program is necessary for them to survive and thrive in today's social and economic landscape. While this is generally a good thing, it has made it difficult to identify what companies have truly bought into DEI, versus those who are using it as a box to check off. Here are 5 ways to identify whether or not your company (or a company you are interested in working for) really cares about DEI, and 5 DEI red flags to look for.
1. They make sure whoever is in charge of DEI is qualified to be in charge of DEI:
DEI is a field of study. Just because someone is a POC or understands HR, does not mean they understand DEI. Any individual can learn about DEI, but it takes time and effort. Whoever is in charge of your company's DEI program should have some background - whether professional or educational - in DEI.
The responsibility of your company's DEI program is given to an “only” (the only POC, woman, etc. in the office) simply because of their minority status, with the assumption that their individual experience means they understand DEI.
2. They make sure whoever is in charge of DEI has time to be in charge of DEI:
DEI can be a full time job. Many companies have recognized this and have created roles specifically to head up DEI efforts. This is great if your company has the budget and need for this. If not, hiring an outside DEI consultant or trainer (like FIG!) is a great option.
The responsibility of implementing a DEI program is given to someone who already has a full plate and does not have the ability to prioritize it.
3. They understand that DEI is a long game:
DEI is a process, and one that never really has an “end”. Improving office culture, creating an inclusive workplace, and obtaining diversity at all levels will be a continuous ongoing process that is built into the framework of the company.
The DEI program is limited to a "one and done" training or an update to company policy.
4. Leadership is genuinely open to communication and feedback:
For DEI to be successful, all employees must feel comfortable expressing concerns, giving feedback, and reporting issues. They need to be able to do this in confidence without repercussions, and leadership should lead by example as well as encourage all employees to do so.
Employees are discouraged from or actively retaliated against for reporting issues or raising concerns.
5. They practice inclusion:
DEI isn’t DEI without the I. Diversity, especially in entry level positions, is easy to achieve. It is more challenging and involved to facilitate an inclusive workplace. Making sure all employees can show up as their authentic selves and that everyone has the tools to succeed at work is true inclusion.
The company emphasizes diversity in the hiring process, but stops there. Turnover is high and the company is only “diverse” at entry level positions, while leadership remains white and male.