As we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. here in the United States on the third Monday in January, it’s a great time to reflect on the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices of your organization. We all can be a part of improving the culture in your workplace.
DEI efforts are crucial to all employers, and doubly important in health and human services. The individuals and circles of support your agency supports benefit exponentially when you have inclusive policies and practices and when your staff is diverse, representative of multiple cultures, and prepared to support individuals of every ability and background.
In the non-profit and small business space, it can feel like there isn’t budget available to make DEI initiatives happen. Today we are sharing tips that you can implement at no or low cost to help you on your DEI journey.
Ways you can make a difference with little or no budget
When it comes to diversity, your hiring practices are key to changing your outcomes. One quick win is using an online inclusive language scanner like Gender Decoder or Totaljobs, both free resources, to help you remove gender biased language from your job descriptions and postings. You simply paste the information into the window and get color coded feedback on wording you may want to change. Small changes, such as using “they” instead of “he/she” and other gendered terms, can impact the diversity of your applicants. You can also use these tools for emails and other communications to improve inclusion in your organization on a day-to-day basis.
Hiring Process & Training
Adopt a policy of interviewing at least one underrepresented candidate for each open role.
Conducting training or group discussions about unconscious and affinity bias brings awareness to the topic and supports hiring managers to help them decrease and hopefully eliminate these barriers to diversity and inclusion. For non-profit agencies, check out this free unconscious bias training from Nonprofit Ready.
If you are already offering a referral bonus, is it feasible to pay a slightly higher amount when an employee refers an underrepresented candidate to an open job? This is a strong signal to staff that you take DEI seriously.
For this last tip, consider the areas in which you are already engaging outside vendors to support your organization. Look to those vendors and identify any that are already excelling at DEI initiatives, and what can they do to help you learn. What practices, resources or policies have been successful? It’s a great discussion topic for your next meeting with them.
As you engage with new vendors, intentionally seek out Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses in your selection process. Ask each potential vendor about their DEI program and what successes they have had in this area.
Big changes consist of many small steps
Creating a work environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive doesn’t have to start with big initiatives and a huge budget. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Success with DEI can come from grassroots leadership, intention, small changes and lots of open discussions.
- Beyond Diversity: 12 Non-Obvious Ways to Build a More Inclusive World by Jennifer Brown