Empowering Diversity of Thought with Your DE&I Strategy

June 8, 2022 by Verified First

Empowering Diversity of Thought with Your DE&I Strategy

The month of June represents inclusivity for many people groups. With it encompassing Juneteenth on the 19th as well as Pride for the entire month, June highlights the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). While DE&I is a widely discussed topic in today’s talent market, many HR and TA professionals forget about an important outcome to look for when implementing a DE&I strategy. 

Diversity of thought is the byproduct of an inclusive work environment. In Season 2, Episode 5 of our HR at the Table webinar series, Teri Hassell, Region VP of HR at Sysco, brought up diversity of thought in our discussion on empowering women in the workplace. With insight from Teri, we’re breaking down the elements of diversity of thought and how you can use your DE&I strategy to foster an inclusive workplace. 

What is diversity of thought?

At face value, diversity of thought sounds a lot like DE&I. While they encompass the same idea of promoting diversity in the workplace, diversity of thought is an outcome of a workplace with a strong DE&I strategy. Without initial DE&I efforts, diversity of thought can’t reach its full potential. 

Teri described diversity of thought as the element that propels DE&I forward. It helps bring together cultures, understand one’s mindset, and promote different learning styles. When a company utilizes DE&I in their hiring and talent management strategy, the workplace puts emphasis on employee diversity and celebrates the blending of people groups. This healthy workplace culture fosters diversity of thought by encouraging employees to share their ideas and perspectives on business initiatives. Instead of going along with the idea of one, diversity of thought blends the ideas of many to promote inclusivity. 

How does a DE&I strategy encourage diversity of thought?

DE&I strategies look different in every company due to varying business and employee needs. However, there are certain areas of a strategy’s execution that are key to promoting diversity of thought. When these elements are executed properly, your workplace can create an environment where diversity of thought can flourish. 

  1. Recruitment - Incorporating questions to learn a candidate’s viewpoint of DE&I during the hiring process will help you understand in what ways they’ll contribute to the conversation.
  2. Promotions - Promotions should be based on merit, not on bias. Valued employees will share how they want to grow within the company and in their careers.
  3. Retention - Employees want to be heard. Low retention rates could hint at a weak point in your DE&I strategy that’s stunting an employee’s ability to share their thoughts.

A robust DE&I strategy with these elements will promote a workplace culture where employees feel respected enough to contribute to the conversation. 

How can you promote diversity of thought in your organization?

Promoting diversity of thought comes from promoting DE&I in your workplace. Teri suggested utilizing “courageous conversations” to get the ball rolling on diversity of thought. These conversations center around asking the hard questions about representation in your organization and requesting honest feedback. 

Teri remarked that diversity of thought is earned. If you want your employees to feel comfortable speaking up, you need to create an atmosphere of acceptance. This means training managers in healthy conversation tactics such as: 

  • Acknowledging and affirming concerns - There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Employees want to know that their concerns aren’t falling on deaf ears.
  • Asking questions - Politely ask for more information from an employee to gain context on how you can assist them.
  • Keeping it confidential - Structure these conversations as confidential, meaning that the employee can feel comfortable sharing their concerns without fearing their words will garner repercussions from others. 
  • Taking your time - Some issues can’t be resolved in a thirty-minute meeting. Follow up with the employee and schedule more time to further discuss concerns if needed.

How you empower your managers to respond to employee concerns reflects how your company views the employee experience overall.

How do you recognize diversity of thought in action?

Maybe you’ve structured a healthy DE&I strategy that already promotes diversity of thought. Maybe your execution needs a little work. Either way, recognizing if your organization is promoting diversity of thought means being mindful of your environment.

Teri said that you can judge diversity of thought in your organization by taking a moment to see who is speaking up versus who isn’t. If the majority of conversations are limited to the opinions of a few, that’s a good indicator of a bias of opinion. An unstated bias could mean that other employees don’t feel comfortable stating their thoughts.

In order to combat one-sidedness, find a way to conduct a pulse check on how your employees feel DE&I is being implemented in your company. Conducting private conversations or utilizing anonymous surveys could work to identify the gaps in your DE&I strategy that are restricting diversity of thought. 

In conclusion

DE&I initiatives don’t flourish overnight. With Teri Hassell’s insight, you can take the next step in promoting diversity of thought in your organization. To hear more wisdom from Teri Hassell, check out Women in the Workplace: Building the Business Case from our HR at the Table webinar series. 

About Verified First
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