As studies have shown, companies that embrace and emphasize diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace can benefit in many ways—from improved financial performance to a boost in innovation to higher employee engagement and retention rates.
However, while D&I can play a key role in improving a business’s bottom line and culture, it can also be pivotal when attracting valuable talent. In fact, according to two ZipRecruiter surveys, 86% of Millennial and Gen Z job seekers say workplace diversity is an important factor when looking for a job. What’s more, 48% were more likely to apply for jobs with employers that have issued a statement of their commitment to D&I.
Because job candidates are prioritizing and evaluating D&I when researching companies, you want yours to be an employer of choice—one that fosters a work environment in which the well-being, safety, and happiness of its employees are of utmost concern. By creating a clear statement of commitment to D&I, you can help reinforce your organization’s values.
Before creating a statement, though, it’s important to get some context and understand what D&I is.
What Is Diversity and Inclusion?
The term “diversity” not only refers only to a person’s race, but a wide range of elements that make us unique. These include gender, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, personality, skill sets, education, national origin, and marital and socioeconomic status. An organization’s “inclusion” is based on its ability to champion these differences so that employees are treated equally and feel they are accepted and belong. “Equity,” meanwhile, refers to providing fair treatment, opportunity, and advancement for all employees and working to eliminate barriers that may keep them from full participation.
The Department of Labor provides several resources for guidance on disability, diversity, and inclusion.
The Purpose of a D&I Statement
In the wake of civil unrest and Black Lives Matter protests after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, institutions began to speak out. They posted messages in support of the social justice movements on their websites and social media platforms. In the months that followed, many companies all over the world allocated resources to fight systemic racism.
Though writing a D&I statement is just a start, it can be an effective way to set the tone for your company. It lets your customers, stakeholders, current employees, and job candidates know what your company’s intentions and goals are for D&I and how you plan to reach them.
Getting Started on a D&I Statement
Before you begin crafting a D&I statement, it’s best to gain input from employees at all levels so that you’ve absorbed a wide range of cultural perspectives. In addition, consider length; some D&I statements are brief (a few sentences), while others are considerably longer and include bullet points with actions that are being taken.
Once you’ve collected the key talking points and determined your statement’s length, it’s important to consider the tone and focus of the statement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers some tips:
- Be authentic: Start by determining what D&I barriers currently exist in your organization and what can realistically be done to address them. What do you value when it comes to your workforce and customers, and how can this statement support that goal?
- Make it customized: Make sure the statement is clear on what your unique contributions are or will be to address the issues of D&I. Tie it to your company’s mission, vision, and values.
- Tell customers that your company represents its values: The statement should not be focused solely on current or potential employees, but rather on your customers and other stakeholders, as well.
- Include action steps: Provide a clear outline on how your business goals will be reached and how they relate to the organization’s overall strategic plans.
D&I Statement Format and Evaluation
The formats of these statements vary widely—some fill a brochure, others are fewer than 100 words long. Many begin with a headline or tagline that sets expectations, while others accompany images that reinforce the message. All are acceptable formats, so don’t be overly concerned that you must have it one way or the other. Generally, and importantly, the tone of these statements is positive and progressive.
A D&I statement is not an apology for past actions, but rather a declaration recognizing societal issues and the company’s strong intention and commitment to actively address them.
Most statements are written simply and are easily understandable—this is a key attribute you should keep in mind. You may also choose to write three separate statements for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Once a draft is created, share it with employees and other trusted stakeholders to offer them an opportunity to give valuable feedback. It may take several drafts before you reach the final version. A D&I statement should:
- Align with your mission and vision statements
- Be displayed prominently on your website and in job listings
- Be shared on social media platforms
Printed materials and signs should also be considered. These physical and online placements can help make clear that D&I initiatives are a priority for your business, and perhaps inspire others to take responsibility—and action—in the process.
Examples of D&I Statements
To get a glimpse of the varying tones and formats that D&I statements can take, here are two examples from familiar brands:
Technology giant Apple provides an enticing, simple tagline, “We’re all in,” which tops its Inclusion & Diversity page. What follows is a scrolling data- and visual aid-filled experience that kicks off with this statement: “Across Apple, we’ve strengthened our long-standing commitment to making our company more inclusive and the world more just. Where every great idea can be heard. And everybody belongs.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, on the other hand, takes its sports focus to heart, using a team metaphor that aligns with its model and mission. The company states: “You believe in doing the right thing. So do we. Our commitment: From our stores to our distribution centers and our corporate office, we are a team. We believe the best teams not only share common goals and values, but they also need a diverse set of skills, perspectives and experiences to truly succeed. It’s important that our teammates reflect the athletes and communities we serve, and we’re working hard to make sure they do. We actively seek to hire a diverse workforce to promote and celebrate inclusion and diversity. Doing so strengthens our ability to serve all our athletes, drives innovation and growth, and enables us to attract and retain the best talent.”
The Statement Is Just the Start
While writing a statement can help signify your intentions to focus on D&I, it takes more internal effort to make real progress. According to a report released by HR analyst and educator Josh Bersin and employee analytics firm Perceptyx, the most successful companies embed diversity, equity, and inclusion as a business imperative into the mission, vision, and strategy itself.
Taking a long-term approach and prioritizing D&I initiatives, setting benchmarks, evaluating progress along the way, and making adjustments can ultimately bring about measurable success. While making a public announcement of your company’s values is a good start, backing those words up with actions will make your statement resonate even more.