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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a Time to Consider your DEI Strategy

“A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1961

Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, where we honor one of the most successful, well-known civil rights leaders who fought against racial inequality. Some of his greatest accomplishments include the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts are a modern continuation of Dr. MLK Jr.’s legacy. Your business can make big impacts in your business and in your community by using DEI initiatives as a tool to proactively advance engagement, innovation, business performance, and talent recruitment and retention. Businesses can celebrate Dr. MLK Jr.’s legacy by creating a plan or by evaluating and assessing their existing DEI strategies and policies. A DEI strategy is not only an important diversity benchmark, but companies that embrace DEI are more likely to experience business growth, according to the McKinsey Global Insititute.

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

The term DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which is a newer term for a workplace initiative that involves policies, programs, and overall practices that embrace differences, fairness, and support of employees. DEI is about creating a workforce more representative of our world. Though each word in the abbreviation is related, they each set to accomplish a different mission. When developing a plan and working towards becoming a diverse, equitable, and inclusive business, it is important to consider all three parts. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines DEI components as the following:

– Diversity: “Diversity refers to the similarities and differences among individuals accounting for all aspects of their personality and individual identity.” It includes characteristics such as age, sex, disability, race, and more

– Equity: “Equity in the workplace refers to fair treatment in access, opportunity and advancement for all individuals.”

– Inclusion: “Inclusion describes the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member.”

In general, diverse employees make up a business, equity is how the business treats its employees, and inclusion is how involved and supported the employees feel.

Pasco’s Perceptions on DEI

To measure the Pasco business community perspectives on DEI, workforceCONNECT hosted a DEI-centric Pasco 50 event in June 2022. Human resources and recruitment professionals from Pasco’s fifty most influential companies came together to share their thoughts on workforce development needs and trends. In June, Pasco 50 was held at Santander Consumer USA with speakers Dr. Virnitia Hendricks, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer at Santander Consumer USA, and Cathy Grant, VP and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Moffitt Cancer Center. The DEI experts shared information about DEI strategies and sparked discussion about DEI in Pasco. Many Pasco companies participated and shared great ideas and current practices to incorporate into effective DEI strategies and policies, such as:

– Diversity training
– Reflecting DEI in core company values
– Host active listening sessions with employees
– Provide mentorship opportunities
– Create a supportive work culture with open-door policies
– Regularly survey employees on DEI efforts
– Establish DEI committees to maintain the policy and efforts

Even if your business has an existing DEI plan, it is important to consider the above ideas as well as regularly evaluate it for improvements. For inspiration of how to create your own DEI strategy, you can review Santander Consumer USA’s DEI strategy and Moffitt Cancer Center’s DEI strategy. SHRM states that the DEI initiative should focus on achieving business results, stay aligned with business purpose, take ownership and accountability, plan ongoing maintenance and communication, and engage senior leadership. To learn more about how to design your DEI plan and what elements to include, visit SHRM’s guideline tool.

If you have not created or reviewed your DEI plan in some time, now is the perfect time to do so. Like Dr. MLK Jr.’s achievements, creating and maintaining a good DEI plan will create everlasting change.