3 Key DEI Initiatives for 2022

January 25, 2022 | Bryan Barajas

A lot of diversity, equity,  and inclusion (DEI) work in the past has been performative rather than igniting real change. In fact, out of $49.5 billion pledged by corporations to combat racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd, a stunning $45.2 billion (more than 90%) was from investments that those companies stood to profit from, reports The Washington Post..

But fewer organizations are content with standing by silently. Meanwhile, customers and employees alike are calling for real change in how companies operate in terms of DEI. “There’s an expectation from a job seeker’s standpoint, and from a public standpoint,” says DEI Consultant and Analyst Xin-Yi Yap. Companies can’t afford to simply perform DEI.

In 2022, it’s imperative that organizations really grow to create space for employees across all dimensions of diversity. Here are the key DEI initiatives for 2022 that will take your company to the next level.

Committing to Structural Change

Improving DEI is a cultural shift that can’t be limited to just the chief diversity officer or a designated team. Change won’t happen without the right endorsements and involvement across the company.

Such change has to start at the top, says Tiffany Castagno, CEO and Founder at CEPHR LLC.  Executives need to ensure that leaders tasked with envisioning the strategy and putting it into action have the resources and support they need to make it happen. Front-line managers have their ears closest to the ground and are in the best position to bring the strategic vision to life, but they will need ongoing training to do so.

Finally, because DEI must reach across the organization, Yap suggests appointing ambassadors to each team to help them live out the company’s commitment.

Connecting DEI to Your Talent Strategy

DEI initiatives have historically lacked the budgetary and logistical support that other key business initiatives receive. Such efforts have been reactive rather than from a planned strategy. “We shouldn’t be firefighting anymore. We should be restoring and looking forward,” Yap says.

In 2022, companies must take real steps toward lasting change, and that starts by mapping DEI goals onto their talent and business strategies.

Take an honest assessment of where you are now on your DEI journey. Survey employees across the company to get a better sense of the true culture. Based on your talent strategy, what do you want your brand to be known for? Set goals to work toward throughout the year. Create channels for accountability. There must be clear ownership over each step in the process or else you won’t see the results you need.

Creating Space for Intersectionality

Your employees bring hundreds of dimensions of diversity to work every day. You need to create a space that welcomes this variety. Many companies fail at DEI because they’re focused on getting candidates from diverse backgrounds without first doing the work to make sure they’ll feel welcome once they arrive.

“Are you ready for diverse ideas and thoughts?” Castagno asks. “Those people won’t feel like they belong if the organization isn’t prepared to act versus doing it performatively.” After you’ve set your strategy and allotted an appropriate budget, consider bringing in a consultant to help refine and manage your plan. A consultant can advise you on creating functional spaces for intersectionality.

Although it’s a daunting task, 2022 is the right time to truly move the needle on DEI. “There’s heightened awareness, acknowledgment, and focus on DEI in organizations,” Castagno says. This year, companies need to create inclusive spaces where employees can bring all of their dimensions of diversity to work and unleash the full potential of the workforce.

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