Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to a healthy business. In honor of Celebrate Diversity Month this April, Erika Royal, CEO of The Life Coach School, offers five ways to ensure that these principles are part of the DNA of your workplace.
1. Make DEI Work in the Business Personal.
Most businesses are born from some belief, goal, ambition that is personal to the business’s creator. DEI work needs to be the same, and it must be a priority from the top down. A company’s leadership has to work to uncover and challenge their own unquestioned beliefs and biases and role model this work before they can reasonably expect their teams to buy in. It is important to create a nonjudgmental space in which people can engage in difficult conversations without fear of shame or recrimination.
2. Get Help.
This does not mean bringing in a DEI expert to give a one-off presentation or workshop and then returning to business as usual. At our company, The Life Coach School, we have partnered with a consulting firm, ScriptFlip!, specializing in helping entrepreneurs build antiracist businesses. Our work with the firm started with training on issues and opportunities—what we did not know that we did not know. It has since progressed to deeper conversations about how we can apply this work to every aspect of our business and be agents for change in the life coaching industry. Ultimately, we want equity to be “baked in the cake” and not the icing that we put on top.
3. Be Intentional.
Massive change will not just happen. A company must be willing to dig deep and root out the reasons that is the way that it is. Often, the lack of diversity in an organization is unintentional, and the only way to fix it is to be more intentional. This means, in large part, asking questions that you probably were not asking before. Good starting questions include: Are we being inclusive? If yes, how? Do we include underrepresented groups? Who are we excluding? Can we do more to create a sense of belonging? We have also become more intentional in our hiring practices. We post open positions on social media and utilize our personal networks to find candidates. We are also more proactive about tapping someone with great potential on the shoulder and encouraging them to apply for a position they ordinarily might not.
4. Revisit the Company’s Core Values.
Part of our DEI journey at The Life Coach School involved revisiting our core values to make them more substantive to represent better who we are as a company. More substantive core values are easier to live into and, therefore, better support our DEI initiatives and goals. Our new core values are: We’re an Example of What’s Possible, We’re Inclusive, We’re Thought Full, and We Make Hard Work Fun. We believe that these core values send a strong signal about our culture and what it is like to work here, as well as how we conduct ourselves inside of the company.
5. Bring the Work Inside.
Our first year of working with the DEI consultant centered largely around trainings conducted by members of their team. In our second year, we are moving that work inside the company with the creation of our own Equity Team. Our five-member Equity Team meets bi-monthly with the DEI consultant to discuss pressing DEI issues, as well as to examine existing company policies and procedures through a deliberately equitable lens. The team also creates company initiatives designed to foster more belonging within the company and our community of coaches.
Follow these five guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for your employees and your business to flourish.
Fort Lauderdale-based Erika Royal is a graduate of Harvard Law School and worked as an employment lawyer at Holland & Knight LLP for 22 years and 12 years as a partner before joining The Life Coach School.