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May 13th, 2022

How to Avoid Common Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Mistakes

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BiasSync

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As part of its virtual conversation series, BiasSync recently hosted a panel of experts to discuss diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives that give employees a sense of belonging. The panel discussed the common mistakes made in developing such programs and ways to avoid these errors.

DEIA refers to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Accessibility, according to Dr. Crystal Miller, BiasSync’s Chief Learning Officer and Organizational Strategist, manifests physically, emotionally, and mentally, requiring that companies pay attention to all of the different needs and provide them with equity.

Some companies are moving towards direction of focusing on belonging to the point of describing their priorities as DEIB, which adds the concept of belonging. Dr. Miller explained that placing an emphasis on belonging means that individuals feel safe, secure, and confident in their work environments and with their colleagues. They can be unique and yet still belong, having safety and confidence in their unique authenticity and feeling valued within the workplace.

Common DEIA Mistakes: Mitigating Bias

Forbes and Harvard Business Review have cited some common errors in DEIA/DEIB programming. They concern a “one size fits all” approach, which, according to Dr. Miller, means that they have canned a way to present this information and then roll it out to employees with the assumption that the company knows what the employees need. Sometimes it occurs within one single workshop or one type of program. Sometimes it is loosely interspersed. Organizations may roll out programs without even looking at what people's unconscious biases are and assuming that the training is going to address the behavior that they want.

What to Do: Unconscious Bias Training

Instead, organizations need to assess unconscious biases, know the employee base, understand where the biases lie and then have programs, training sessions and behavioral approaches that intervene and mitigate bias in those very specific areas.

Companies must understand that inclusion, belonging, and psychological safety are the individual experiences of employees in an organization. Then they must develop policies, practices, infrastructures, and resources to achieve equity. Finally, they should concretely audit and measure the effectiveness of the programs.

“Make sure that you have a development plan that includes continuous education, networking within the industry, leveraging lessons and learned benchmarks from other people who are showing success in this area."

Lara Harris, Amgen's operations of diverse inclusion and belonging lead, added, “Make sure that you have a development plan that includes continuous education, networking within the industry, leveraging lessons and learned benchmarks from other people who are showing success in this area. Fully immerse yourself in that whole experience.”

According to Tanya Towns, global operations driver and business performance, senior manager for Amgen, “Being grounded is the first step. When you bring in an external consultant, you've got a good foundation of information to work from and to build and grow. Then continually manage those relationships and get the executive endorsement, involvement, and resourcing, in that order.”

She concluded, “Because you've set the psychological safety, employees feel safe to raise their hand. They are able to collaborate. They are able to have thoughtful questions, but most of all leverage their lived experiences, background knowledge and inspirations for those answers. They belong there. They are taking that active role in what their career development plans could be and how they could contribute. They have connection with the mission and vision of the organization. Because you've moved in the space of where they feel they can belong, you have that retention.”

Specific Steps for Organizational Leaders: DEIA

  • Assess for equity barriers using BiasSync’s 8-Touchstone Equity Survey™
  • Develop a plan using BiasSync’s Five-Stage Inclusivity Roadmap™ (Inclusivity Roadmap)
  • Create psychological safety
  • Address physical, mental, and emotional accessibility
  • Develop a strong strategic framework
  • Develop partnerships with vendors
  • Analyze the results
  • Immerse yourself in the experience

How BiasSync Can Help: Fostering DEIA

"It is crucial to develop key partnerships, which might be community partners, but also vendors like BiasSync, to help bring in external resources, data analytics, to build credibility for the case and the change initiatives that companies are striving for to achieve."

Dr. Miller said, “It is crucial to develop key partnerships, which might be community partners, but also vendors like BiasSync, to help bring in external resources, data analytics, to build credibility for the case and the change initiatives that companies are striving for to achieve. This provides multiple viewpoints and voices highlighting your goals, initiatives, and metrics to really focus on the organization. When diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility are considered, this type of work has to have the same emphasis as any other strategic business initiative within your organization and be elevated as such.”

Not just diversity. Inclusion. And Accessibility. And Belonging: Mitigating Unconscious Bias and Advancing Equity.

Organizations that want to learn more about mitigating unconscious bias and its role in advancing workforce equity can start here.

Not just diversity. Inclusion.

Diversity is not just about numbers. It’s about people’s experiences in the workplace. If you’re ready to understand how bias impacts your company—with data to make effective changes, contact us now.