So we've all heard the phrase about "I don't just talk the talk; I walk the walk" by now, right? Do you want that phrase to apply to your DEI culture? I bet you do.
A DEI culture needs to be complete in both structural and behavioral aspects. It's one thing for your leaders and HR team to talk the talk (e.g. roll out diversity policies, implement cultural sensitivity trainings), but does the employee culture walk the walk?
The structural aspect of DEI includes policies, initiatives, published strategies, etc. It's the promises that your organization makes toward DEI, and the concrete steps taken to fulfill those promises. The structural piece is formalized and quantifiable. If your DEI culture was a building, the structural aspect is, well, the structure. It's the foundation, the walls, the roof over your head.
The behavioral aspect is the comfy chairs and the decorations of your building. They're what make the building comfortable, livable, and desirable. This is the dialogue going on between employees, the accountability and the enthusiasm of leadership towards furthering DEI.
You need both the structural and the behavioral aspects to be fully functioning if you want a healthy DEI culture. Neither is more important than the other. In fact, oftentimes they feed each other: structural policies encourage behavioral change, which inspires further action and so on. Once this wheel starts turning, things change and grow.
If you just enact structural changes but not behavioral, your culture is inconsistent. That leads to employees confused about what the strategy is long-term, and how they can be a part of organizational change. So it's important to set up structural changes to improve your DEI culture, and then be intentional about fostering the behavioral changes.
Need some ideas to get you going? Here are three structural and behavioral actions you can take now:
Have your leadership publicly commit to identifying and reducing inequities across the organization.
Ensure you have resources (people and money) dedicated to support your DEI efforts.
Review your training programs for potential bias language.
Provide employee feedback to all managers, thus enabling them to take action on the feedback received.
Ensure your recruiters understand inclusion and how their actions influence the organization.
Encourage your employees to drive one-off initiatives in support of your overall efforts.
Now go walk and talk!