Developing a DEI Statement:
The Big Picture

Understanding the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion piece to the modern workplace puzzle.

What is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement? This DEI asset is a company’s formal and public announcement of their commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive workforce.

The statement should include a few examples of real changes the company plans to implement, as well as the promise that these changes will not just be temporary. The statement should be clear, concise, and personal. It should connect the concepts of DEI to the specific work your company does and the core values it wishes to uphold. 

Collecting Data from Stakeholders, Employees, and Customers

An important step in cultivating the perfect DEI statement is to collect data from current employees, stakeholders, as well as your customers and target audiences. A simple way to do that is provide a survey that looks at the current demographics of your company and the people that it serves. In the survey, include a section in which takers can request specific DEI related changes and/or highlight areas in which they believe your company can improve.

    Marketing and Distributing Content

    In order to demonstrate that your company takes these new DEI initiatives seriously, your marketing must reflect these ongoing changes. A commitment should be made to use a DEI lens through which to evaluate all forms of future marketing. Content which backs up the promises or claims made in the DEI statement should also be distributed. Here are a couple examples of what that content might look like: 

    • The data collected in a DEI focused survey of your company. Distributing this will demonstrate to investors and customers that the company is transparent, and ready to be held accountable for the changes they promised to make. 
    • A newsletter reporting on how the following: 1) New DEI strategies that are being implemented, 2) Some success the company has had in creating a more inclusive workforce, and 3) Employee testimonies on how these changes have improved their work life

      Potential Pitfalls of DEI Statements

      Anyone can write a convincing DEI statement, but not every company can back it up. In fact, there is some evidence which shows that organizations have seen a rise in exclusion and discrimination after distributing a DEI statement. 

      Why does this happen? The researchers at the National Library of Medicine have a few ideas:

      • The company over-promised. Combine that with the added scrutiny brought on by heavily marketing their new DEI strategies, and the public quickly realized that the company wasn’t up to the task they set for themselves. (An example of this is a company plainly stating that they ‘do not discriminate’. This type of statement is not only easy to disprove, but it also puts a target on the company’s back, opening them up to even harsher levels of scrutiny.)
      • The company used too much ‘meritocratic’ language when defining the parameters of their hiring practices. Research suggests that when a company makes the case that they only hire based on merit, this statement can have the opposite effect. This is often caused by hiring managers misperceiving their own unbiased attitudes.  

      So, then, what’s the best way to craft a DEI statement with authentic voice and intention, but creates expectations that a company can reasonably meet?  

      • Be humble, not defensive
      • Make promises, not arguments
      • Refer to these changes as aspirational and avoid responding as if your company has already solved the problem 

      The task of implementing these sorts of positive changes into the hiring process can be daunting. But it’s also necessary, in order for companies to grow their profits, expand their portfolios, and keep up with the shifting attitudes of customers and investors. Luckily, they don’t have to do it all on their own. 

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