Cultivating a diverse workplace is not a to-do list of items to be checked off.
Instead, think of advancing diversity as a culture shift. Culture shifts take time; they’re not a linear process. As such, it’s all the more important to routinely evaluate whether the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts you’re making are resulting in real change.
Whether you’re just starting out on the DEI journey or are checking in on your progress, asking tough questions about diversity of yourself or of current/prospective employers can help ensure you’re playing a role in cultivating a more inclusive workplace.
Let’s get started with 6 diversity reflection questions:
#1: Where do you see the most diversity in your organization?
Start out by considering where you already see diversity. Take a step back and examine different components of your organization, whether it’s your specific team, the C-suite, or the board. This can help you lay the groundwork for understanding what’s already working at your company and what needs to change.
When answering diversity, equity, and inclusion questions, factors that may readily come to mind include race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. But don’t forget that diversity also encompasses:
- Age and generation
- Income and socioeconomic status
- Language and nationality
- Location (for example, rural or urban)
- Mental and physical abilities
- Personality traits and behaviors
- Social origin and parental background
Now that you’ve assessed the overall state of diversity at your current or future workplace, it’s time to explore the growth opportunities. In the diversity, equity, and inclusion questions below, we’ll dive into how your workplace can foster a more inclusive environment.
#2: Where do you see the least diversity in your organization?
Tough questions about diversity are worth asking. Don’t be afraid to identify the areas in which your current/prospective employer needs to make progress. After all, this is where the growth begins.
Unsure about how to start promoting diversity in the workplace? See AboveBoard’s recommendations on strategies you can implement today.
If you’re asking this question of an employer, be sure to follow up with a question about what steps the organization is taking to address this lack of diversity.
#3: Does everyone in our workplace have access to the tools they need to flourish?
“Organizations should be mindful of not just recruiting but also retaining and promoting diverse individuals,” according to the Boston College Center for Work and Family. “Simply increasing the number of diverse employees does not dismantle the systems that prevent people of color from developing a sense of belonging and advancing within an organization.”
In other words, diversity is about more than just hiring the right talent, it’s also about how you train, mentor, and nurture the diverse professionals on your team.
Workplaces can develop diverse talent and leadership by providing access to mentorship, leadership training, and other career development opportunities that help employees get to the next level in their careers.
#4: Are there actionable steps an individual can take if they're treated unfairly because of their race, gender, or background?
As James Clear, author of #1 New York Times Bestseller Atomic Habits, says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
Yes, diversity goals are important, but so are the systems that support them. Examine what systems your workplace has set, if any, to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
At AboveBoard, we've found that diversity, equity, and inclusion drives innovation by creating an open space for new ideas. To reap this benefit of diversity, it’s imperative that employees know their experiences and opinions are valued and heard in the workplace. Systems that actively support diversity can play a key role in this.
#5: How are we educating ourselves and continuing to learn?
Without an education component, diversity initiatives can lose their purpose quickly. Education can take many different forms, like a book club focused on antiracism literature or more formal training, such as an implicit or unconscious bias workshop.
#6: Where do we see our workplace in the next five years, in the next 10 years?
Think about the type of workplace you’d like to foster or be a part of. What does diversity look like in this specific context? And remember, diversity includes manifold factors, like age, education, life and work experience, socioeconomic status, and more.
Plan for growth, hire with diversity in mind
Understanding how diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts unfold in reality is key to growth, both for yourself and for your workplace. Taking the time to ask tough diversity questions can help you and your organization move from talking about DEI to advancing it.
At AboveBoard, we’re on a mission to advance diversity in the C-suite and beyond. Our inclusive platform for executive hiring increases access and transparency to the executive hiring process, expanding opportunities for underrepresented executives, including women and BIPOC leaders. Sign up today to connect with individuals and organizations committed to improving diversity, one hire at a time.