A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) statement is a description of your company’s commitment to celebrating diversity and protecting stakeholders as foundational to the way you conduct business. When talking about DEI, it is important to know their definitions, and how it can show up in your business. Meg Bolger of General Assembly describes it as:

  • Diversity is the presence of difference in a given setting. In the workplace, this can look like a diversity of identities amongst the collective or in relation to one another, not a particular candidate.
  • Inclusion is people of different identities feeling valued, welcomed, and invested within your work environment. Verna Myers, DEI educator, describes the difference between diversity and inclusion with, “Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
  • Equity is ensuring that everyone has access to the same opportunities, and requires you to understand the root causes of why disparities exist. Due to a system of privileges and barriers, it is also the acknowledgment that we do not start from the same place.

A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement acts as a tool to build these core values into your organization’s operations, and model those values to advance your mission. While every individual should be celebrated, included, and have fair access to opportunity, know that research states that increased diversity leads to better quality decision-making and people are more creative, diligent, and hardworking when they feel authentically included.

Did we convince you? Canopy recommends building your DEI statement with three important parts:

What does diversity, inclusion, and equity mean to your business?

While each term may have agreed-upon definitions, the way your business sees, values, and uplifts diversity will be special to your workplace culture. Work with your employees or leadership team to determine why DEI is important, and allow your public words to reflect that sentiment.

Make individuals feel welcome by being seen.

We all have a special combination of identities, and no one wants to choose between what shows up at work and what stays home. It is important to make it clear that celebrating diversity is not felt as a general blanket thrown across the company, but that each identity is welcome, seen, and celebrated. At Canopy, we believe every identity should be intentionally included, and we do that by listing out Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) identities, Non-EEO identities, and different stakeholder classifications. Some examples (but not limited to) include:

    • EEO- Age, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, genetic information, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, religion or creed, veteran status
    • Non-EEO identities- gender identity and expression, political affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status
    • Stakeholder groups- employees, communities, shareholders, creditors, investors, government,customers, owners, managers

Hold your company accountable by showing how you will invest and advance your DEI efforts, and find places for your DEI statement to live!

Take time to find how you can make a difference in your DEI efforts. Are there any policies you can implement that result in tracking data? Are there any processes like hiring, promotion, and evaluation that can be changed with the goal of increasing DEI? Can you incentivize leaders based on DEI strategy? Also, think about how your statement shows up inside and outside of your business. Internal suggestions can be company culture publications, employee engagement programming, employee orientation, employee reviews, impact assessments, internal programming, policy and procedure manual, posters, professional development opportunities, town hall-style meetings, and vendor and supplier meetings workshops.

Externally, you can include your DEI statement in community outreach, company literature, core mission for direct services, other certifications or programming, periodic reporting, recruitment materials, social media, webinars or educational workshops, and your website.

Other Tips:

  • Involve your people. Open up a conversation with employees and volunteers. They will feel heard, and more perspectives will help you create a statement that is robust and holistic.
  • Include your mission statement into your statement, this way diversity is core to your values and the way you conduct business.
  • Use positive words like inclusive, celebrate, grow, freedom, commitment, experience.
  • Be specific by striving to do better. Can you create high-level goals across organizational departments?
  • Follow up with data to hold leadership accountable and check-ins to see how efforts are perceived.

Your DEI statement is a crystallized message of how your company honors and pushes diversity, equity, and inclusion. Did you find this helpful? Do you need additional support or a team of experts to give you feedback? Contact us at info@canopyky.org.