Often, we think of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) solely being applied to large businesses but in reality, it applies to all sectors and all organizational sizes. There has been a rising trend over the last year of organizations wanting to prioritize their diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace. However, there seems to be less direct focus around how small to medium businesses (SMBs) plan to expand their DEI strategies.
Programs and initiatives on their own don’t drive lasting change, especially in SMBs where so many may already feel overloaded with work. It’s important to recognize that SMBs face significant challenges in their HR initiatives, such as lack of financial resources and time, lack of knowledge and guidance and lack of formal structure. This is a good opportunity to reach out to an external source or team of experts in HCM technology to offer their services in broadening company initiatives in human resources.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is not just one person’s role, it’s everyone’s responsibility to create a dynamic workplace for all involved. It is possible for HR leaders in the small to medium workspace to make practical, high-impact changes to help create a dynamic and inclusive work environment.
How to Position DEI Efforts
Diversity, equity and inclusion must be positioned as something that is fundamental to the entire workplace rather than just another assignment. Let’s take a look at how HR professionals can spread that awareness in an SMB setting to make sustainable changes.
1. Be Purposeful With Your Mission
One of the most important questions HR professionals and organizational leaders can ask themselves is, “Why is this important to the organization and why do we want this?” This is a critical question to begin to understand how these responses tie into the mission, vision and values of the company. How you engage your employees in your DEI efforts and how they will be impacted is a direct reflection of this question.
Employees, as well as customers, will notice the intention behind DEI efforts. HR leaders and companies never want to make the mistake of coming off as if they are solely joining diversity and inclusion efforts because it is the latest trend, especially now that DEI is becoming more embedded into the workplace. Having a foundation of shared thought, beliefs and definitions from the beginning will make it easier to incorporate DEI best practices into the organization over time. Employees can become overwhelmed if too much happens too fast, so initiatives should be executed at a steady trot, rather than trying to incorporate big change at rapid speeds.
2. Employ the 3 Cs: Clear, Concise Communication
Establishing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the organization and then not properly communicating the overall strategy can frequently occur. Engaging with everyone doesn’t mean blasting an email about new values and expecting the information to trickle down through the organization. Communication should extend to all employees. DEI efforts must be clear throughout the employee journey in any organization.
Announcements like company updates, progress, employee appreciation and how their contribution is critical to the business are some of the many ways to make front-line and hourly employees feel like they belong. Face-to-face interaction, 1:1 engagement, conference room meetings or internal company events are all great ways to communicate. Email should not be ruled out as a means to communicate, but should only be used with careful consideration regarding the content and message being conveyed. Technology plays an important role in engagement, such as the ability to send company-wide or targeted communications to front-line employees. Communal computer stations, signage posted throughout the workplace and instant messaging are some other ways to engage with front-line employees.
3. Diversify Your Networks
The more we can diversify our networks, the larger the variety of different perspectives we can bring to ourselves and to those around us. DEI efforts can be so focused on looking at large-scale programs and projects in prominent large companies that we forget the influence of local organizations like not-for-profit, community colleges and radio stations. Another prime example would be local DEI trainers in your community. Their impact can be far more significant on your workforce than larger and more costly national consulting firms that may be detached from the community and its employees.
Building Bridges That Lead Into the Future
Leading with empathy, compassion and awareness helps to further HR and business strategies in SMBs, since there may already be numerous struggles that are being faced. Taking essential, intentional and practical actions in employee engagement are just the beginning steps that SMBs can take to further their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the right HCM technology can be a big help.
Don’t feel too bogged down with admin work to really move the needle. If your employees are fed up with clunky, outdated and potentially biased HR processes, contact Quanta and let us give you a better way to run your small business. We’re not just a payroll company, we’re a people company. Improve your corporate culture today.