Diversity Equity and Inclusion Statements (DEISs) should serve as more than an empty document on your website; they’re an official pledge and commitment from you to bring about lasting change within your workplace culture.
Your mission statement should convey your serious commitment to making an impactful contribution, while aligning with the overall business goals. Here are a few tips on how you can do just that: 1. Draw on accepted definitions of diversity and equity
1. Focus on commonly accepted understandings of diversity and equity
If you want your diversity statement to be effective, it must go beyond mere positive sentiments and include a plan for action and measurement of success. A comprehensive plan could include ideas tailored specifically to your field of work as well as for departments, campuses and communities at large; or focus on goals like diversifying an existing research group or incorporating diversity concepts into teaching strategies for future goals.
As part of your plan of action, it’s essential that you understand the differences between diversity, equity, and inclusion. Though some may use these terms interchangeably, these three concepts must be distinguished from one another. Diversity refers to our many unique personal and group characteristics which define us individually as individuals or groups – such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion/spirituality status age physical abilities.
Inclusion refers to an atmosphere in which differences are celebrated and everyone feels valued, respected and included; an environment that encourages everyone to reach their full potential. Equity refers to more targeted approaches which ensure fair outcomes regardless of starting point for all people regardless of background – such as by addressing structural inequalities that benefit certain groups while disadvantage others.
Diversity, equity and inclusion must be prioritized within an institution’s core values as an ongoing effort. They should permeate everything it does – including its mission, vision and goals – as well as be visible throughout every interaction, both online and off.
To foster an inclusive culture, it is vital that attention be given to all groups, particularly those with little power or voice. This strategy, commonly known as multi-track strategy, requires engagement from all stakeholders involved with engaging communities while encouraging participation through dialogue and providing training/support to employees/students at every level of an institution.
Multi-track strategies can be an excellent way of creating a culture of diversity and inclusion at your workplace, university or school. But sometimes this approach simply isn’t possible with limited time or resources available – in such instances it is crucial that leaders champion diversity efforts by investing their own time to help lead and champion change efforts. In such instances, champions should be identified and recruited.
2. Highlight your commitment to action
An Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement (EDI statement) shouldn’t just be about setting out your vision or paying lip service to it; to demonstrate your real commitment is by taking real actions towards changing company culture more inclusive. Failure to follow through could quickly lose trust and credibility among employees;
Many colleges and universities require faculty to submit statements of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) during the hiring process or when considering tenure and promotions decisions. Although the exact content of such statements varies according to each institution’s needs, their overall purpose should demonstrate willingness to integrate diverse viewpoints and experiences into research, teaching and service endeavors.
Your DEI statement should acknowledge that your understanding of diversity and inclusion is ongoing; that you recognize you have not reached full capacity yet in addressing issues, yet are actively engaged in finding solutions to move forward with. Furthermore, it should include your commitment to listen and learn from others including those from marginalized populations.
As part of your proposal, your statement should clearly outline the significance of your work and commit to removing any barriers that prevent those you work with from working together with you. Furthermore, it should state your willingness to take steps such as reaching out to student groups to promote opportunities or partnering with external organizations to develop new pathways that advance marginalized communities.
Finally, an effective diversity statement should detail what concrete steps will be taken to meet your goals and how success will be measured. This way, employees and the public alike will see your commitment to making a difference, while simultaneously creating an urgent feeling within your team that ensures they reach goals as quickly as possible.
3. Make it easy to find
Make it accessible for staff, applicants, and visitors can be an effective way of showing your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. One effective method for doing this is including a link to it on your website – this shows visitors that your commitment is genuine rather than just PR stunt. Ideally, keep it brief and easy to read; research has revealed that retention drops as sentence length increases (i.e. eight words or less per sentence can achieve 100% comprehension while 14-word sentences only achieve 90%). (See How to Score Your Job Descriptions Readability for details).
Your DEI statement on your website can also serve as a gateway to other initiatives you are undertaking to foster equity and inclusion in your organization, such as company-wide cultural change initiatives or programs for underrepresented students. Incorporating it into larger organizational frameworks helps emphasize its significance while creating urgency around taking necessary actions.
Some organizations have taken this a step further by including their DEI statements on their websites along with additional resources to enrich the statements, including workforce diversity reports and racial equity strategies, employee or candidate testimonials and more. Such resources can provide useful guidance for organizations looking to develop their own DEI statements.
One final thing to keep in mind when developing a diversity statement is making sure it fits with your overall business strategy and goals. Simply having it as an afterthought document won’t do the trick; to maximize impact in the long run it should be integrated with mission statements or values statements such as those found at OHSU (like their diversity statement).
Finally, it’s essential to acknowledge that your definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion will likely change over time as new insights come in. Therefore, your diversity statement should remain an active document incorporated into research, teaching and service agendas whenever possible.
4. Be honest
Public calls for greater diversity have become increasingly vocal over time, from workplaces to media. Companies that embrace inclusivity are widely acknowledged and applauded. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line caters to diverse consumer bases while Target made headlines by featuring differently-abled models in its ads campaigns. These initiatives can serve as great examples of your company’s commitment to diversity equity and inclusion if done in an open manner – crafting an employee engagement statement helps convey this commitment effectively to employees, consumers and other stakeholders.
An effective diversity statement will serve as proof that your company has pledged to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace, identify current demographic data, highlight primary focus areas and outline steps being taken toward creating an equitable culture. A Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) statement also holds your organization accountable for adhering to its DEI goals and principles.
Avoid using your DEI statement as a marketing ploy. Distributing an empty DEI statement could leave your company vulnerable to accusations of discrimination and could hinder recruitment efforts. Likewise, setting ambitious goals without being able to meet them makes it hard for any such statement to have credibility.
To craft an effective diversity statement, it is crucial to acquire knowledge of EDI terminology. Diversity refers to a set of differences among people that spans many aspects, including race, gender identity and sexual orientation; religious beliefs; age; physical ability; political views and lifestyle choices. Include and equitable treatment are two components that create an atmosphere in the workplace where all individuals feel valued, psychologically secure and free to express themselves freely and safely. Furthermore, equity refers to fair treatment of all people regardless of background or perceived social status; by understanding these terms you’ll be able to craft an impactful diversity statement that resonates with your target audience. For more information on writing diversity statements please check out our guide on creating diversity statements and inclusion statements.