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DEIB Part 3: Belonging. How your organization can step onto the road of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

By Tess Zachary

So, knowing all we know about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and the organizational benefits…where do we start? 

Begin with a DEIB Statement

First, decide who you want to be. Start working on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement that sends a strong message about what your culture holds dear. Don’t do this alone. This kind of project requires a wide array of voices and different perspectives. Ask for help. Accept help. Listen to other people. Let go of “your” ideas and be driven by your patronage and what they say. 

Your statement should connect DEI to your specific mission, vision, and values, and demonstrate what living your DEI statement looks like in real life. A good DEI statement includes the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Write in plain and simple language. Public statements like this should be written in a way an 8th grader can read and comprehend easily. 

Some questions to consider: 

What does DEIB mean to you? 

Clarify what these terms mean to you. Your statement should provide diversity, equity, and inclusion definitions for your culture. Words don’t mean anything without a shared understanding. Avoid repeating these terms instead of defining and contextualizing them. Explain the value of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging to your organization. Avoid using broad, ambiguous descriptions. Even if you do not explicitly define each of these terms, be clear and share your understanding about how your organization defines diversity, equity, and inclusion to foster belonging.  

Some places you can look for inspiration: 

Words can have multiple meanings, and even when terms have the same definitions, they can hold different meanings for various people. It’s best to come to a consensus on the definitions for each term and record them in writing to ensure your entire organization is on the same page with how they interpret diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The San Diego Foundation and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Extension Foundation provide good examples of nonprofits that have established definitions for diversity, equity, and inclusion and made them available to the public.

Some other “Glossary” resources that are similar, but each have something to teach: 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Glossary | College of the Environment (

Harvard University Glossary of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Terms

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Glossary |

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Key Terms and Definitions (

How will you prioritize DEIB? 

Describe how you will create an inclusive and equitable environment. Also, what knowledge, skills, or attitudes do you seek to foster in your organization and how do they relate to DEIB? You may also describe how you assess the success of your strategy. You may contextualize pressing issues in your organization. 

In what ways will your organization show commitment to DEIB? 

Training, outreach, mentorship, priorities in management etc. Be specific. What are your goals around diverse management and members of your organization?

The best diversity statements include:

  • the company’s mission
  • a commitment to diversity
  • mention of specific underrepresented groups
  • positive and inclusive language
  • unique information or benefits for diverse groups
  • The best companies use 20 to 75 words for their main diversity statement 
  • If you have an entire page dedicated to your diversity statement, then you can elaborate way beyond 75 words to support your main statement.

Some DEIB vision statements from large corporations I find inspirational:  

Supporting Multicultural Communities (

Stanley Black and Decker

BC Housing


United Way

Create A DEIB Team

Create a team to put your DEI vision into action-this team should be charged with shaping a comprehensive action plan with achievable, measurable, and meaningful outcomes

  • Set specific and measurable goals around DEI. 
  • Set policy about DEI. What do you do when someone resists or does not embrace the culture change?
  • Create Training. 

Who should be on your DEIB team?

Make sure your committee or task force is comprised of subject matter experts, and people who represent the kind of people your goals want to attract. For example: If women in leadership is a goal of yours, make sure women leaders are put onto your task force. Performative efforts are transparent, be committed to making changes. 

Do not expect people to do this work for free. This is a LOT of work, and emotionally draining, and people need to be compensated for this kind of effort. 

Granting your DEIB Team autonomy and empowering them

You cannot put this amazing group of people together and then tell them they cannot do their work. Be ready for change. Be prepared to support. Your team requires resources, support and decision-making authority. Be prepared to embed aspirational ideas into the organization’s institutional structures. It’s also crucial to have leadership invested. Without buy-in from the top, DEIB teams won’t have the same opportunities to strategize or create company-wide adoption.

Set your DEIB Team up for Success
  • Provide them with access to your people analytics, systems, and metrics so they can identify issues and areas for improvement.
  • Pull DEI teams into every big decision to ensure inclusivity and equity is a part of the conversation.
  • Give them the freedom to freely discuss findings with leadership to understand what is lacking and develop solutions together.
  • Empower them to hold managers accountable for not meeting goals.
  • Supply them with enough financial resources and team members to carry out their work.

Some Immediate Goals:

No one knows your organizational needs, so no one can tell you what your goals should be. Leave that to your DEIB team. However, below are some examples of low-hanging fruit that can begin to build momentum in your organization. This is not a checklist, just some things I’ve participated in or witnessed working for various organizations. 

  1. Do a read of the website and edit for:  
  2. Diverse images
  3. Inclusive language
  4. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
  5. Problematic policies
  6. Develop strategies and goals for expanding diversity in management positions 
  7. This can include training and mentorship
  8. Developing retention strategies
  9. Be specific in these goals and create deadlines 
  10. Do a read of policy and procedure and address: 
  11. Inclusive language
  12. Problematic policies
  13. Address financial disparities
  14. Is your organization as accessible as it could be? Could you change locations, structure of meetings, or dates/times to be more inclusive
  15. Scholarships so that more people can be included
  16. Stipend for presenters/educators/helpers to cover opportunity costs (babysitters, fuel, missing work etc.) making participating cost-neutral
  17. Accessibility
  18. Is your event/organization as accessible as it could be? 
  19. What can be done right now? What do you need to fundraise/plan for?
  20. Get input from those who need accommodation about what would be helpful
  21. For ideas you can view an Accessibility Article I wrote in 2022
  22. Find new ways to do your work (Seq’s article) 
  23. Gathering data
  24. People analytics
  25. Needs of your patronage. Survey stakeholders on diversity and inclusion goals and progress. Do so on a regular basis to inform whether or not your stakeholders are satisfied with the company’s efforts.
  26. Create a communication plan
  27. Weekly/monthly (whatever makes sense) of progress 
  28. Cascading messaging plan
  29. When and what is shared with management
  30. When and what is shared with the organization
  31. When and what is shared with the public
  32. Finding and providing training to promote awareness of DEIB issues. 
  33. Management Development: 
    • Training decision makers to remove unconscious biases during the interview process
    • Creating culturally sensitive promotional materials
    • How to create meaningful recognition 
    • Teach managers how to embrace the discomfort and awkwardness that often accompanies a shift into a culture of belonging
  34. Start a mentorship program for diverse members to train them for management roles 
  35. Start Resource Groups.  Resource groups are a great way to build inclusive cultures and support culture development. These groups bring together people who share an affinity, which allows them to connect despite their role in the organization or other interests. These groups are both a support function as well as a great source to mine for DEIB goals and training. Some examples:  
  36. BIPOC Resource Group
  37. Neurodiverse Resource Group
  38. Employees with Disabilities Resource Group
  39. Veterans Resource Group
  40. LGBTQIA+ Resource Group
  41. Families, Single Parents, or Caregivers Resource Group
Communication and Transparency

You should have clear and well-defined goals that are communicated widely. 

  • Your goals need to be well defined and measurable.
  • The goals need to be widely communicated. 
  • Any progress made towards these goals should be communicated.
    • Celebrate the wins
    • Share the failures
  • Create a process for sharing your DEIB team information

As promised, some classes I’ve taken that I found valuable:

Making Room for for DEIB—Start Today

Here are some things organizations I belong to have done to keep focus on and embrace DEIB that can be done right now.  As you begin to do small things, you will have other ideas and so will your group. 

Diversity Education during meetings. Choose someone in each meeting to give a short talk and share something about their culture or identity. Ask them to do a short writeup  that can live beyond that includes resources for people wanting to learn more.  If someone doesn’t want to share something personal, have them share a resource they found helpful. Create a prominent place for this.

Celebrate awareness months in meaningful ways. Gather resources, educate people. Examples are National Hispanic Heritage Month, Advocate for LGBTQ+ equality by celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month in October, Honor the Cultures and the True History of Indigenous People (educate yourself, participate in land acknowledgement), October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, where you can be a part of making sure that people with disabilities have the same access to job opportunities and honoring their contributions at work.

Survey your organization. Find out what ideas your folks have. This conversation is happening in your organization, even if you’ve chosen not to participate in it up to now.

Openly share pronouns to normalize the behavior.

Do Diversity Briefings.  People with different backgrounds can brief what holy days or holidays are essential to them to share historical and cultural knowledge. Additionally, they can share how to support these days.

Money-In-The-Jar. Years ago, I challenged myself to not use gendered language for an entire month. (This is hard to unlearn!). In support, an organization I was part of decided to participate.  Anytime we were together, and someone used gendered language improperly, they had to put a $1 in the jar.  We decided to donate this money to a local transgender youth program, but that money could be used for a DEIB speaker, training, anything that moves your goals forward. Please don’t force people to participate. A spare dollar is a privilege.  Alternately, just declare your challenge to yourself and invite other people to participate.

Plan a guest speaker or educational event around DEIB

While starting down the road of DEIB is challenging, and it takes time and focus, the rewards are numerous. Just deciding to make DEIB a priority will rapidly change your organization’s thinking. We’ve given you lots of options for training and process, now it is up to you to make it happen. Don’t spend so much time getting ready to get ready that you don’t move forward, just do something, right now, today.