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Beyond February: Sustaining Diversity and Inclusion Efforts in the Workplace

Beyond February: Sustaining Diversity and Inclusion Efforts in the Workplace


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion abbreviated as DEI, are not just corporate buzzwords; they are the pillars upon which the future of work culture stands. DEI awareness, encompassing a deep understanding of these principles, guides organizations toward a more inclusive and equitable workforce.

Why is cultivating this awareness so vital? Envision a workplace where the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints of each person are not just recognized but embraced. Picture an environment where every individual, irrespective of gender, race, religion, or orientation, feels respected and empowered. This is the vision of the future workplace - one that prioritizes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) awareness.

There is broad agreement that diverse and inclusive workplaces are a good thing. These environments value all employees’ contributions and reflect the demographic characteristics of the available labor force. Put most simply, it’s the right thing to do. Additionally, diverse and inclusive companies find and nurture the best talent, increase employee engagement, and improve customer willingness to buy.

But there is a long way to go. The events of 2020 were a clarifying catalyst that helped business leaders see the enormous inequities that have always existed. A few years later, stakeholders (including current and prospective employees and customers) want to know if companies have lived up to the big promises they made that summer in 2020. Has your company done the work to create a more represented, inclusive space for employees?

Keep in mind the disparities Black Americans have faced in the workplace (currently and historically): 

Looking and Applying

White job applicants tend to receive more callbacks than equally qualified applicants of other races. A study was conducted to show this disparity and showed that white-sounding names receive 50% more callbacks for interviews than Black-sounding names, no matter the occupation, industry, or hiring size. 



Black Americans are overrepresented in lower-paying jobs and underrepresented in top leadership roles. Reports by  McKinsey found that 45 percent of Black private-sector workers (approximately 6.7 million people) work in three industries that have a large frontline-service presence: healthcare, retail, and accommodation and food service.” Which are the industries with the highest shares of workers making under $30,000 annually. 

There are huge gaps in representation amongst the highest-paying roles. In the same report, McKinsey shares that out of the companies who offered to participate in their study, only 4-5% of senior management, VP, and SVP positions are Black, while their total Black employees equate to about 14% of the total number of employees.


Daily Experience

According to the Pew Research Center: 41% of Black employees have reported discrimination or have been treated unfairly at their jobs. Everyone deserves to feel respected, heard, and safe at the place we spend most of our days.   

While 2020 offered tragic and distressing events, we can hope for progress. During 2020 many companies, including McDonald’s, Microsoft, Boeing, and Best Buy, made pledges to improve diversity hiring practices and introduce diversity and inclusion (D&I) training. The hiring of D&I professionals in general did spike - more than 60 U.S. companies appointed their first-ever chief diversity officer (CDO).

So how can you ensure your workplace is diverse and inclusive beyond February? Below are a few activities and resources that are worth researching deeper to foster inclusivity and enhance awareness within your organization. 


DEI Activities 

The DEI awareness activities go beyond traditional diversity training and engage employees in thought-provoking, interactive, and enjoyable ways. They promote understanding, empathy, and a culture of inclusion, making the workplace more diverse and equitable. Here are a few creative and unique Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) awareness activities for the workplace (please do more research in each of these activities to see if they would be appropriate for your industry/workoplace):


Diverse storytelling workshops: If your employees feel safe enough to do so, provide a space for them to share personal stories and experiences related to diversity and inclusion. These storytelling sessions can help colleagues better understand each other's backgrounds and perspectives.


DEI book club: Create a DEI-focused book club where employees read and discuss literature that explores various aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This activity promotes education and awareness. This can also include podcasts. Find some recommendations below.


Privilege walk: Organize a privilege walk where employees physically represent their privilege or disadvantage based on certain criteria. This eye-opening activity helps participants understand privilege dynamics.


DEI film screenings: Host film screenings of movies or documentaries that address DEI issues. Afterward, engage in meaningful discussions about the themes presented in the films.

Cultural potluck: Encourage employees to bring in dishes representing their cultural backgrounds. This potluck not only celebrates diversity but also introduces colleagues to new cuisines and traditions.

Inclusive workshops: Offer workshops on inclusivity and equity, focusing on specific topics like microaggressions, allyship, or inclusive leadership teams. These interactive sessions provide valuable skills and insights.

Resources for Education and Awareness

Recommended Books, Shows, and Podcasts


Certified Diversity Professionals

Certified diversity professionals promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations, and check the reality of the status of diversity in your offices. They undergo specialized training and certification to develop strategies and initiatives that foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. Hiring a professional for guidance can lead to positive change, and is a great resource for lingering questions or providing extra resources to follow up on.



Sustaining diversity and inclusion efforts requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing long-term commitment, continuous improvement, and a dedication to education and awareness. By embracing diversity, fostering inclusion, and providing resources for learning and growth, organizations can create environments where all individuals can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential. As Black History Month comes to a close, let’s remember to continue to do the work to affirm your commitment to creating a workplace (and personal spaces) that reflects the diversity and richness of the human experience. 

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