Implementing a Diversity Policy

When implementing a diversity policy, an organization should take the following critical steps:

Diversity initiatives must receive active management buy-in

  • There must be a significant amount of management commitment, leadership and support (the importance of words, public commitment and “walking the talk”), and championing diversity at all levels
  • Ensure that management encourages and communicates enthusiasm for initiatives to the other levels in the organization

Management directed and driven policies

  • Diversity strategy and associated policies should be led by senior management and/or a high profile individual within the organization. They should lead by example

Benchmarking best practices in diversity

  • Diversity practices and procedures from other organizations should be reviewed to identify the best practices and lessons learned to avoid pitfalls and implement diversity policies and processes effectively

Definition and vision

  • Define diversity broadly to include all recognized employment equity groups
  • Have a clear vision of diversity and its objectives
  • Understand the legal obligations related to diversity

Allocating resources

  • Commit the necessary resources (financial and human) required to develop and lead the diversity initiatives

Communication strategy

  • Communicate regularly with employees on the importance and benefits of having a diversity policy
  • Ensure continuing dialogue among all employees to collect their feedback and their ideas
  • Actively listen and alleviate employees’ concerns and fears through a planned communication strategy

Training and support

  • Educate and train all levels of the organization on the new diversity policy and how it will affect organizational practices
  • Provide socio-emotional and practical support to individuals who may be the target of negative reactions to diversity

Human resources management

  • Make changes to processes and policies to accommodate a diverse workforce
  • Make changes to organizational customs and values
  • Accommodate disabilities when appropriate
  • Change the traditional corporate culture and define what it will look like in the future
  • Recruit and promote the best qualified and most suitable people for the job

Implementing diversity

  • Tie the implementation into the business strategy (in areas such as recruitment)

Setting objectives, evaluating progress and rewarding success

  • Tie diversity to business objectives
  • Strategy should not result in preferential treatment for some groups, and must protect the merit principle
  • Incorporate diversity into business functions, units, and the organization’s mission statement
  • Create diversity action plans
  • Set accountability for diversity in business objectives, especially for senior and middle management
  • Establish long-term initiatives aimed at creating overall cultural change
  • Measure results against goals
  • Involve employees (focus groups, special committees, networking groups) at all levels