In today’s world, there’s an expectation that all organisations, regardless of their size, sector, or capacity, should actively embrace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in their operations and culture. However, for small organisations that are resource-constrained and time-poor, taking that first step can feel challenging. In this blog, we aim to provide some friendly guidance on where to begin and how to embed DEI into your operations, creating positive momentum.
The journey toward DEI begins with a strong intention to make a change. It can come from the CEO or any member of your organisation. The key is to recognise the need for change and commit to taking action.
DEI isn’t just a buzzword; it has the power to improve organisational culture, productivity, and society at large. So, let’s all get curious about how to do DEI well. Start by acknowledging that it’s something you need to learn more about. Diversity is a complex topic, but there’s a wealth of information available. Read books, articles, listen to podcasts, attend webinars, and consider bringing in professionals through workshops or talks. Embrace the complexity and be open to unlearning what you think you know.
To create lasting and effective change, we need to address the system within which we operate. While we may not change the entire system, we can make a positive impact within our own spheres of influence.
To ensure DEI doesn’t get lost among other priorities, establish a group, committee, or taskforce to focus on it. Ideally, involve senior leadership or create a board-level committee. Make DEI a recurring topic in senior management meetings. Consistency is key.
As the saying goes, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed.” Start with simple metrics. Examine your processes, especially recruitment. Set targets for diverse hires and define what “diverse” means in your organisation. Implement actions like diverse candidate slates and interview panels. Track this data over time for insights and improvements.
Sometimes progress may seem slow but keep asking questions and seeking ways to improve. Engage your organisation’s members in discussions and feedback on DEI topics. Their insights can be invaluable.
Using Privilege Responsibly
For those in leadership roles, remember your privilege and the responsibility it entails. In the grand scheme of things, the effort required to stay on top of DEI initiatives is modest compared to the challenges faced by less privileged individuals in society. Small changes can lead to significant impact.
Avoid the pitfalls of thinking the problem is insurmountable or believing that you’re already doing enough. Challenge your own views and recognise the role you play in DEI efforts.
DEI is about understanding how the world is and how it came to be. It will increase awareness and empower you to become an ally for positive change. Don’t reduce it to a mere tick box; appreciate why it matters.
Lean into the Awkward
Expect uncomfortable conversations but embrace them as opportunities for growth and understanding. Along this journey, trust and understanding will grow. Remember that everyone’s experience with diversity is unique. Embrace the complexity of individuals and use your experiences to foster empathy and openness.
My Own Journey
In a multicultural city like London, my personal experiences are not often a topic of discussion – assimilating is something I do subconsciously, for better or worse. Therefore, not many people know that at the age of ten, I was a refugee, escaping violent conflict with my family, moving to a foreign country. Later, at twenty-three, I became an economic migrant, coming to the UK to work, like so many others. These experiences gave me an understanding of the complexities and trade-offs involved in cultural adaptation, in what it means to belong, or not. As someone who has experienced diversity firsthand, I seek to understand its complexity and try to keep an open mind.
My hope is that the tips provided here will inspire you to take those first steps. At Carbon Tracker, we’ve been on our DEI journey for three years, and the progress has been rewarding, with much more to do.
Don’t be discouraged by the challenges. Embrace DEI with curiosity, humility, and a commitment to making positive change. Each one of us can play a role in building a more inclusive and equitable future.