FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SETTING UP A DIVERSITY & INCLUSION COMMITTEE
The following key points are important to consider when setting up a Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Diversity is a reality in all of our work and bring unique perspectives to our organization.
1. Visible and invisible diversity
Representation on the committee, beyond identifying based on gender, race/ethnicity, and age is important. Consider employing a survey to allow individuals to self-identify to understand the true landscape and demographic of your organization. Representation includes, but is not limited to:
- Power and position (social/administrative/economic/other)
2. Representation – avoid tokenism
Consider a range of professional experiences and life experiences – invitations, grounded in respect for both professional knowledge and life experience, are less likely to be felt as token representation. Invite participants with both diversity knowledge and identity-linked perspective that relate to the goals of the committee rather than just their identity.
3. Create a safe space for contribution
A strong introduction to allow everyone to share their own perspectives and lived experiences, as well ground rules to participation is important to ensure a safe space has been created. Employees with ‘less power’ might fear repercussions for not agreeing with a majority perspective. It is therefore important to consider and attended to the group dynamics. When setting up the committee, it is also important to consider and assess any participation-related needs and/or access barriers.
4. Voting – an unpressured decision-making tool
Consensus can be challenging when everyone has diverse experiences and perspectives. Whenever appropriate, voting by secret ballot can allow participants to influence the direction of the group without having to publicly stating their opinion or views on a topic.
5. Leadership – include a decision maker at the table
To ensure that the ideas and goals of the committee can move forward in a meaningful way and within the bounds of the organization, include an individual that is a ‘decision maker’. They are your ally at the leadership level that can advocate and move forward the mandate of the D&I committee.