Despite the driving force that is the modern Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) industry, too many DEI-specific initiatives fail to achieve any significant objective. Over time, both the trainers and the companies that hire them have settled on a middling status quo; everyone goes through the motions and nothing really changes.

Make your company different. Shift away from optics-focused, publicity-driven DEI and use these three cornerstones of comprehensive diversity instead.

Institutional Discrimination

Institutional discrimination is an inherent, often subconscious bias in a company’s policies or tendencies. It manifests when a large proportion of the management and employees think alike, impacting recruitment, hiring, promotions, and even firings.

For example, some companies promote a “young and hip” vibe. The deliberate elevation of those two adjectives disenfranchises individuals who may not embody, or not see themselves as embodying, them. It dis-incentivizes talented people from even applying at that company and could be especially discriminatory towards its current employees.

When creating a DEI plan, ask if your company is taking its “vibe” to discriminatory levels?

Cultural Bias

We are each a product of our respective cultural environments, which our brains set as the baseline “norm.” Individuals and cultures that deviate from this perceived “right” way to think, speak, and act become the victims of our cultural bias.

A good example is eye contact. We might tag someone who constantly averts their eyes as deceptive or evasive when, in their culture, it is an act of deference. Another example is hand gestures; innocuous things such as pointing with the index finger is a major faux pas in certain societies.

Is your team aware of these differences?

Intergenerational Bias

Intergenerational conflict is rooted in the terribly persistent myth that every generation can be described in its entirety by four or five traits. Our work and life experiences show us every day that that is not true. Mindsets and values transcend generations; it is more about priorities than personalities.

That priority difference is the biggest hurdle before intergenerational bias. Some of the strongest work bonds are forged outside of the workplace and the difference can come down to unwinding over drinks or rushing home to the family.

A good DEI outline should address team-building and interpersonal relationships beyond your office walls.

What Not to Do

Two of the most common DEI mistakes are throwing money at the problem and aping what others are doing. Remember, it is not a race to hire the most high-profile consultant, initiate the most elaborate program, and orchestrate the most sweeping organizational shake-up. Such superficial box-ticking approaches are precisely why change has been slow to come. In addition, resist the temptation to imitate and outdo and focus instead on establishing a truly open, non-judgmental working space where everyone is welcome.

Contact DeSantis Trusted Advisors today if you have any questions about creating a sustainable plan to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace.