Since 2020, after Black Lives Matter gained momentum, organizations have been ramping up their Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DEI) efforts across the workforce. It can be intimidating when you don’t know where or how to start a DEI committee. Companies have created ERGs, strategize inclusive hiring, launched training, increased diverse headcount, and more. But there’s so much more work to be done, and the process can take some time.
What is a DEI Committee?
A DEI committee is a group of individuals within an organization from various departments that take the lead in the DEI journey for the company. They plan, promote, strategize, educate, and encourage DEI and its mission in the workplace. It’s not just run by HR; it’s essential to have members of other departments be part of this committee to help promote diversity across the organization and ensure accountability.
In some organizations, DEI committees are even decision-makers in DEI and HR, while others are advisors to the leadership team. Either way, it’s impactful and effective. DEI committees help bring change across various parts of the organization.
Plan Your DEI Committee
Before recruiting members, think about the areas in the organization where diversity and inclusion need to be strengthened. Understand the demographics of your workforce, listen to employee’s challenges, and identify areas of concern and improvement.
A great way to understand employees’ perceptions of DEI at your organization is by taking the free Diversity and Inclusion diagnostic microlesson available on the Emtrain website.
If you or someone else at the company is starting a DEI Committee, it’s okay to have a high-level plan and strategy put in place and evolve your plan once you have an actual committee. Remember to consider any challenges and roadblocks you might face, and include that in your plan.
Recruit Executive Sponsors and Other Members
A successful DEI committee is done together, not independently, and getting the leadership team on board adds the cherry on top. Ideally, the CEO of your organization would champion the committee. However, executive leadership can have the same impact. Involving executive leadership sends a clear message that DEI is taken seriously and that the organization is answering the call for change.
Additionally, it’s essential to recruit members from various departments, job levels, roles, and demographic backgrounds, not just the HR team. Your DEI committee should be as diverse as you’d want the organization to be. Start by getting the word out about forming a DEI committee. Send out forms so interested employees can fill out and submit them. DEI touches every part of the workplace, so it’s important to encourage members from departments like engineering, finance, marketing, design, product, and more to join. Committee members are doers, not just learners, and must be committed to the work and projects that will go into it.
Develop a Clear Vision
Once you’ve recruited committee members and gained executive leadership sponsors, it’s time to start developing a vision and mission statement. After identifying the gaps and challenges of DEI across the organization, think about the goals you want the committee to set and accomplish. To be truly effective, start the conversation with all employees in the workplace. Set up a time for an open discussion or use employee engagement surveys to get honest, anonymous feedback. Think about what areas the DEI committee can influence and change the most.
When creating your mission statement, ensure that it is aligned with your company’s overall mission and values. Be concise, empathetic, and include strategic goals and priorities in your mission statement.