In today’s modern world, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are incredibly important for the success of any organization. With the right strategies in place, conversations around DEI can be meaningful and impactful to the entire workplace. 


Our team at Vested HR provides insight into how to conduct meaningful discussions on DEI in the workplace to ensure an inclusive environment. By following the approaches outlined here, employers and employees can create a safe space where everyone feels respected and heard.  


Diverse colleagues in a meeting-Vested HR 

What Does DEI in the Workplace Mean and Why is it Important? 


As a simple explanation, DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  


Workplace DEI is the process of creating an environment where  

everyone feels welcomed, respected, and valued.  


Despite what some may believe, DEI is not just about providing benefits to employees that may be considered marginalized. It is also about educating your employees on cultural diversity, and ensuring that all employees are treated with respect and dignity in the workplace.  


How to Conduct Authentic DEI Discussions at Work 


DEI discussions are a sensitive topic, and the way these conversations are communicated can have serious impacts on your team.  


First and foremost, DEI dialogue should be authentic and intentional; you can’t talk about the importance of DEI while at the same time marginalizing any members of your workforce.  


Luckily, Vested HR has some basic steps for you to follow that will help incorporate this much-needed topic into your workplace in the best way possible. 


Step 1: Build Trust


Many of us have been conditioned to not allow ourselves to be vulnerable at work which can make conversations like these difficult for many involved. So, to have authentic conversations about DEI, you’ll need to build trust and create an environment everyone feels free and safe to open up.  


Steps to build trust in the workplace: 

  • Be transparent about your goals and expectations for the conversation: Be clear and direct with your intentions and explain how you want everyone to contribute to the discussion. 


  • Build deeper relationships throughout staff: You cannot expect your staff to be willing to contribute authentically if they do not already have strong relationships with other staff or supervisors. You must strengthen these relationships before conducting such a conversation. 


  • Leaders to model vulnerability: It all starts with the leadership of your team or organization. When your staff sees that their leaders are all in the same boat with them, they’ll be able to trust being able to open up about their own struggles. 


Step 2: Plan the Conversation


As always it is important to plan ahead with any training or workplace development. Without having a plan in place for the discussion, it may result in disaster or simply make no difference in the work environment.  


How to plan your DEI discussion:  

  • Focus the discussion on a single DEI topic or challenge: Think of what challenges you’re facing and choose which one to focus on during your meeting. Remember the conversation should not be one-and-done, this will be an ongoing discussion as you evolve and tackle each challenge. 


  • Set clear goals: Ask yourself what you want everyone to walk away with once the meeting has concluded. A list of ways everyone can address the challenge at hand? A positive outlook and the willingness to bring change to the work environment? 


  • Write down questions you want your staff to discuss: Once you have your DEI challenge in mind, write down open-ended questions you can ask your staff regarding the topic that will guide them to achieving the goal. Begin with easy light-hearted questions so everyone feels comfortable to open up before digging into any deeper questions. It’s important to keep in mind, the more challenging questions are often necessary to make a difference and drive change. 


Step 3: Maintain an Open Dialogue 


You must maintain an open dialogue with your employees and encourage them to continue to share their ideas and experiences in and outside of the workplace. Keep communicating with your organization about what you’ve learned and how you plan to implement change over time.  


Be honest with everyone about what has been working well and what hasn’t. The more you’re open and keep the dialogue open, the easier these conversations will be and the more productive they’ll be throughout your organization. If you stick to these guidelines and commit to change, you will begin to see results over time.  


Read More > Creating a Culture of Employee Recognition  


Laughing employees-Vested HR  

Begin Your DEI Journey 


It’s important to keep in mind that every DEI journey in the workplace is different as every business has different challenges it faces. The most difficult challenge you’ll face is bringing your people together and ensuring they are comfortable enough to share their ideas and personal experiences authentically. That is why Steps 1 and 2 are crucial to making these conversations productive.  


If you find that you’re struggling with your DEI journey, reach out to our HR professionals at Vested HR for a consultation. We can help uncover your challenges and provide you with guidance on how to overcome these challenges in the most efficient and meaningful way.