4 Things You Can Do to Move Your DE&I Initiatives Forward

Written by Erin Mahar

June 18, 2021

4 Things You Can Do to Move Your DE&I Initiatives Forward Hero’s Director of DE&I, Lenna Turner, recently hosted a special speaker panel, “How Practitioners are Moving the DE&I Conversation Forward,” featuring panelists from Chevron, WarnerMedia Studios, and Reddit. They talked openly about their struggles, strategies, and solutions in building a more inclusive workplace and inspired all of us with their insights.

Attendees asked hot-topic questions during the session regarding steps they can take to move their DE&I initiatives forward. Our panelists responded with four pieces of advice:
1) Take the First Step Towards Diversity

“We need concrete steps. What can we DO?  What action verb should we use?  Many organizations think they are already good in this area, how can we turn the tide--again?”

DE&I is more than just hiring and demographics. It requires a culture and environment where everyone can succeed. It also requires real focus on managers who do the performance reviews and make hiring and promotion decisions. Start with an audit. Here are the steps for doing a DE&I audit. Then prioritize what needs to change and improve. If you are interested in ideas, we have a series on Improving DE&I for Small Business.

“What can Boards do?”

Diverse boards can help companies achieve a more innovative corporate culture, better alignment of interests of customers, employees, shareholders and business partners, more effective risk management.

“How do you apply DEI to compensation planning and strategies?”

When managing a compensation system, we recommend that organizations ensure everyone has an equal opportunity for a raise, bonus, or promotion, etc. by understanding and examining the process and policies by which compensation elements are awarded such as the eligibility criteria, approval process, carefully examine “discretionary awards, plan documents, decision processes. Approach these decisions and reviews so that the outcomes are fair, equitable, and transparent. This applies to every organization.

2) Use Your Voice

“Speaking of the Asian-American community, when tragic behavior like the recent/ongoing attacks on the Asian population here in the USA occur, should organizations send out a message to all staff?”

If they don't, they should. Organizations need to be more aware of how personal these attacks feel for their employees. When a woman is harassed or harmed because of gender, most women relate. The same is true whenever the attack is on Blacks, Asians, Jews, Muslims, or any other group of humans by a different group based on that difference.

“In my experience, if employees aren't seeing something tangible, they tend to assume nothing is happening. How are you all telling your DEI story in a way that feels real and actionable to employees?”

However, you communicate with employees. Do a regular update where you celebrate making a difference, tell the story, and talk about what you are doing and why. It could be an email every month, a special DE&I resource page on the employee portal, a regular message from senior leadership, or a part of your all-hands or town hall meetings.

3) Revisit Your Applicant Pipeline

“What does ‘health of pipeline’ mean?

Be intentional and pro-active about creating and building a pipeline that has diverse candidates; Post on Diverse job boards, learn about minority professional associations such as Women in Technology, Asian/Hispanic and Black MBA Associations, build a recruiting relationship with some HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities); Partner with a school to offer internships to at risk high school and college students that are underrepresented in your line of business or profession.

“What strategies are there for tracking composition of job applicant pools? Since applicants are not required to provide this information about their identity, it seems hard to establish the composition of our pools and determine if we’re moving the needle.”

Tracking applicants by demographic can be challenging. But rather than measuring who is applying, track who is being interviewed and who is getting the job. It doesn't really matter if you are getting more applicants from marginalized groups; what matters is who you are actually hiring. So, focus on outcomes rather than measuring every stage in the hiring process. And make sure your focus is broader than hiring. Build an environment where everyone can grow and succeed.

“How do you balance internal discussions around DEI initiatives and remain compliant with EEOC guidelines with recruiting and hiring?  It seems like a fine line and a bit of a grey area.”

You cannot base hiring, firing, promotion, or other employment decisions on any protected factor. But you can request more diverse slates of candidates to interview. You can actively recruit for diversity by seeking a broader cross-section of candidates. You can have more diverse decision makers. Then make sure your new hires are welcome, valued, and have a voice once they start.

“What are some measurable outcomes of success?”

The big one is seeing historically marginalized groups represented at all levels, particularly positions with power and control over resources. Along the way, look at who is hired, who is promoted, who stays, who leaves, and who has a voice in the rooms where decisions are made.

4) Utilize Available Resources

“What resources/training/certificates can HR professionals take to get more experience in DEI?”

There are many educational and learning opportunities both free and for a cost. Several HR Professional Organizations and Universities offer advanced courses and certifications.

  • Josh Bersin Learning Academy; Webinars, Courses, Certifications
  • LinkedIn Learning - offers many courses and certifications
  • Cornell University – eCornell Online DEI certification program
  • Rice University Graduate School of Business – DEI Certification program
  • SHRM
  • Webinars on DEI matters presented by HR Consulting firms
  • White Papers
  • Diversity Publications, Podcasts, blogs
  • Books & Documentaries on Race Relations, Discrimination, Managing a Diverse Workforce
  • Harvard Project Implicit

Another approach that does not focus on any specific group is to look at discrimination through the lens of trauma and the experience of being told that you don't belong or that you are inferior because of something you come with. On some level, we have all had the experience of feeling "other." Imagine having that experience as your daily reality simply because of who you are by people who don't even know you. When we can see the trauma, we can start to understand more effective ways to approach the healing and we have the right people centered in our efforts.

Watch a recording of the DE&I panel, “DE&I: Moving the Conversation Forward” to learn more about taking on diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization, or get a free 30-minute DE&I consultation with one of our experts.

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about the author
Erin Mahar is a Marketing Associate at She loves collaborating with colleagues to create content that helps organizations get pay right. Outside of work, Erin likes to paint pictures of the places she's travelled to and spend time with family and friends!

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