Entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners are critical in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging efforts within the workplace. Every aspect of business benefits from these efforts; an enterprise that considers the perspectives and needs of all workers and customers can experience improved employee job satisfaction, retention, enhanced productivity and increased profitability. Review diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging best practices and consider a template for a strategic action plan for your business.
Concentrating your efforts on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in fostering a feeling of belonging strengthens your overall business. Here is a list of best practices for hiring, recruitment and management for a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible workplace.
Whether you are crafting an action plan focusing on your DEIAB efforts for the first time or updating your previously stated goals and values, this template will help you to refocus your efforts and improve their effectiveness. Use this strategic action plan template to think through the critical elements of the values and expectations of your business.
First use the conversation prompts below to assess where you are now, where you want to go, and what influences you are taking with you into this strategic planning:
A DEIAB strategic action plan communicates your business’s efforts to address problems, needs, challenges and opportunities concerning DEIAB. Using this template, you can write out your mission to foster belonging with an inclusive organization, map out solutions and opportunities, set target goals, and evaluate your progress. Take our example as a starting point and consider other strategic plans such as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s DEIA Strategic Plan, where their actions to achieve their goal of becoming a model employer for employees with disabilities include integrating reasonable accommodation procedures, assessing current accessibility models, and developing and implementing training on accommodations.
Creating partnerships that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging is what builds unity and strengthens communities large and small. Coalitions are partnerships formed in support of a common goal: bringing together groups of people from various racial, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Below, you will learn more about allyship, coalition building and using resources for a collective purpose.
Decentering Yourself in Community and Business
Centering ourselves means that instead of truly listening to someone’s experience, we refocus and challenge the conversation by sharing our own. It shows that you are just listening to reply, not to truly understand and empathize. A key component of allyship is lifting others’ voices and understanding their experiences.
Ask yourself the following questions before vocalizing (or communicating online) to help identify when you might be centering yourself and when you are not truly allowing space for marginalized voices to be heard and understood.
DEIAB, within the context of community and peer-to-peer relationships, relies heavily on the foundation of allyship. Being an active ally is more than just declaring yourself an ally. Allyship is not an identity, skill or performance. Allyship is a commitment to an active, ongoing practice of working in solidarity with marginalized groups and individuals to advocate for equal access, inclusion and empowerment.
Allyship and inclusivity can strengthen businesses, communities and partnerships. One key step to eliminating bias and ensuring a more equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace and community is to become an ally. Allyship is the practice that gives visibility and credit to marginalized and underrepresented groups, ensuring their voices are heard, and taking appropriate action. Taking action as an ally is an important part of promoting and prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging in your personal and professional life.
Allyship is a muscle that must be exercised regularly. Unless you are actively working on it, it will grow weaker. There is no single fix that will forever promote allyship in your organization. Just as you might exercise your muscles often, you must continue to develop your personal journey of allyship. When starting conversations with others about challenges, microaggressions or discrimination they’ve faced, start by requesting their permission. If it’s okay with them, be sure to approach the conversation with humility and a learning mindset.
While focusing on DEIAB efforts in your business and creating an environment in which employees feel that they truly belong, you also have a responsibility as a part of your community. Focusing on active advocacy through community involvement results in benefits for your business, your customers, your employees and your community. Prioritizing social responsibility has a positive impact on everyone involved.
One way to prioritize social responsibility is to organize as a community. Forming ethical partnerships with partners with like-minded values and goals is an important step to your business’s inclusive efforts. Whether in your own business or across the broader community, building a coalition or partnership is a good way to come together and address issues and opportunities.
A coalition is a group of individuals and/or organizations with a common interest who agree to work together toward a common goal. Coalitions can empower a community’s future by addressing urgent issues, launching community initiatives or sharing resources. The University of Kansas has created a Community Tool Box for step-by-step guidance in community-building skills, including a chapter on coalition building, where you can understand how to set an action plan for your coalition, recruit members, determine resources and maintain your coalition over time.
Creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace is a shared responsibility. Building a sense of community and fostering belonging begins with your strategic priorities mapped in your action plan, such as more inclusive hiring practices. Belonging can then be fostered through allies actively supporting, advocating for and sharing resources with marginalized groups.
While marginalized communities can benefit from allyship and advocacy, the lack of allocated financial resources continues to exacerbate the many challenges these communities face. For example, in Peru many Afro- and Indigenous Peruvians live on the coast. These coastal communities have suffered the devastation of flooding, brought on by climate change.
Allyship might look like organizing a volunteer group to rebuild structures lost to flooding. Advocacy might include petitioning local governments to address climate change. Both of these actions are helpful. However, resource sharing and allocating funds would also help community members to make critical decisions about their futures, such as relocating or sourcing materials that can withstand climate change.