Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Resources

Lauren Adelle Coaching
11 min readSep 15, 2020

What this post is for

Thinking about where to start with DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) initiatives can be overwhelming. This post is meant to provide startup founders with a curated set of resources from DEI experts. It’s a starting point (and by no means comprehensive) to educate yourself and lower the barrier to take action in building DEI into your company and culture. This post is divided into four sections:

  1. Defining DEI
  2. DEI Resources
  3. Expert Trainers, Consultants, & Services
  4. Tools

The most important takeaway: just get started. Don’t try to do everything at once, and don’t give up. As a founder or executive, you have incredible potential to influence many people. DEI is immensely important (not to mention good for business). Just get started and build from there.

Defining DEI: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity means having people with diverse backgrounds and identities at all levels of your company; it also means hiring and advancing people from underrepresented groups. Traditionally, underrepresented groups have been thought of as women and people of color. But true diversity also includes people with disabilities, diversity of sexual orientation, ages and stages of life, religious affiliation, veteran status, and more.

Equity means everyone has access to the same opportunities. Underrepresented groups face with barriers and disadvantages that others don’t have to deal with. Committing to equity means recognizing, addressing and correcting these systemic imbalances.

Inclusion means all employees truly feel welcomed, included, empowered, supported within your organization.

Equity and inclusion are every bit as important as diversity. You will not succeed in your diversity efforts if you don’t also create an equitable and inclusive working environment.

DEI Resources

Unconscious bias

A first step in DEI efforts is to understand what unconscious biases are, and understand that we all have them. We need to learn how these biases show up in the workplace, and how to manage and counter unconscious bias to build more diverse and inclusive companies. Before digging into the rest of the resources below, watch these two videos on unconscious bias.

Managing Unconscious Bias — Facebook

Unconscious Bias @ Work — Google

Identify your DEI next steps

These resources will help you identify options on how to begin bringing more diversity, equity, and inclusion to your company. Read through this list and choose which articles and topics to dig into deeper based on your stage of company. Don’t underestimate the value in building systems and processes to support DEI early on; be proactive, not reactive.

Then, identify your first few action steps. It could be to understand what diversity currently looks like within your org, to assess your current hiring process, to implement one of the listed tools to support DEI efforts, or something else. Commit to taking an initial step, even if it’s a small one.

Project Include

Project Include suggests building a plan based on three values: Inclusion, comprehensiveness, and accountability. It offers a great set of actionable recommendations for CEOs and their companies. Topics range from defining & implementing culture, hiring, onboarding, feedback, training, and measuring progress.

“Project Include’s mission is to give everyone a fair chance to succeed in tech. We are a non-profit that uses data and advocacy to accelerate diversity and inclusion solutions in the tech industry.”

Diversity and Inclusion Handbook

Developed by Lever for tech companies, this resource is a great tool to build a foundation for diversity and inclusion at your company from the ground up — from building an inclusive environment, to your recruiting, interviewing and onboarding processes. Contents include:

  1. Build an inclusive environment. Without an inclusive culture, you compound your diversity issues with retention challenges. If you don’t build an inclusive culture, people won’t want to stay. Two important elements for inclusive cultures: equality in the day-to-day, feedback loops, open communication, and empowerment.
  2. Set diversity goals that resonate with your employees. Set goals that align with your employees’ values and feedback. Solicit team-wide input, track and measure existing hiring bias, analyze your results, set goals and deadlines, assess wins and opportunities.
  3. Leverage the support of your team. Respect the right of employees to choose whether to be involved. Empower with recognition and support. Get buy-in from execs leveraging data. Know what you’re asking for.
  4. Embed diversity and inclusion goals into your hiring process. With awareness of biases, hiring teams can become less reliant on bias ‘shortcuts’ that limit better judgment. Three actions to reduce bias in recruiting: Write better job descriptions, focus and inform interviewers, structure and plan your interviews.
  5. Diversify your pipeline. How to draw underrepresented candidates into your recruiting processes. Look for what candidates have accomplished, not only where they’ve done it. Reach out on social media platforms, non-traditional recruiting platforms, and more. Hone the way you do outreach to candidates.
  6. Committing to fair compensation. Document your status-quo compensation philosophy. Don’t rely on cash to win candidates. Negotiation-proof your offers. Keep a list of exceptions. If you’re an executive, get involved.
  7. Bake diversity and inclusion initiatives into onboarding. During onboarding, define what diversity and inclusion means for your company. Include a D&I onboarding session. Train people managers on how they can be diversity leaders. Coach the existing team to be inclusive to new hires.
  8. Navigating when things go wrong. Embedding D&I in your culture won’t be easy or perfect. Mistakes will be made, decisions may trigger emotional and polarized responses. How to tackle challenges like: D&I is seen as a joke, or employees are skeptical of it; people don’t see D&I as ‘their problem’ and are too scared of saying the wrong thing; initiatives fall short of their full potential, despite employees’ excitement and good intentions. Keep experimenting and don’t give up.
  9. Elevate your efforts to the next level. Radical ideas for creating diverse, inclusive, transparent, and fair organizations. Move your company to a location with more diversity; consider how to make your product or service inclusive; build diversity and inclusion into your decision framework; put your full time diversity and inclusion team out of a job; evaluate people manager performance on inclusion.
  10. 40+ ways to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace. Read the list of actionable tactics and tips to bring greater diversity and inclusion to your organization.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Playbook from LifeLabs Learning

This playbook from LifeLabs Learning is a resource for leaders to create a DEI strategy. It’s comprehensive, in depth, and tactical.

Its foundation includes three lenses of DEI work: Institutional, Interpersonal, and Individual.

At the individual level, you can create opportunities for people to learn about bias, identities, and socialization, help folks share their learnings, and role model positive behaviors.

At the interpersonal level, you can share resources, conduct trainings, and reinforce inclusive behavior through various channels, like feedback and microinterventions.

At the institutional level, you can audit existing systems, processes, and policies, create a DEI check for new systems and processes, and build this work into your business strategy.

LifeLabs describes each of these levels in depth, and provides tactical tools and frameworks to build out your DEI strategy and systems.

How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams

This HBR article starts with understanding how bias shows up and how to recognize it day-to-day. Then, learning how to interrupt it in various domains. Although bias is difficult to completely eliminate, we can work to interrupt it when it happens. Here are some low lift and immediately actionable ways to interrupt bias in hiring, management, and in developing teams.

Hiring:

  • Make sure you have a diverse candidate pool
  • Establish objective criteria, define culture fit, and create accountability
  • Limit referral hiring
  • Structure interviews intentionally

Management:

  • Rotate office housework and don’t ask for volunteers
  • Create and assign people to high-value projects in an intentional way
  • Make sure all types of contributions are included in promotion or comp decisions
  • Actively respond to double standards and stereotypes
  • Ask for and make sure you’re hearing all opinions
  • Schedule meetings inclusively
  • Equalize access proactively

Developing your team:

  • Clarify evaluation criteria and focus on performance, not potential
  • Separate performance from potential and personality from skill-sets
  • Level the playing field with respect to self-promotion
  • Explain how training, promotion, and pay decisions will be made

Eight Ways to Make Your D&I Efforts Less Talk and More Walk

This post by Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity and Belonging at Atlassian, offers the frame of “caring deeply while acting quickly” on DEI efforts by taking concrete steps forward. Her suggestions:

  1. Figure out your “Why”
  2. Test things out and make small tweaks
  3. Check, and Map, your own privilege
  4. Dive down to the team level
  5. Unpack intersectionality
  6. Make your recruiting efforts more precise
  7. Revamp JDs and Sourcing to meaningfully broaden your funnel
  8. It’s not just about diversity — you also need to build inclusion

From the article: “If I had a nickel for each time I heard a variation of this pushback on diversity and hiring, I think I’d be a billionaire. That aside, it’s just a garbage question. My response is always no, I’m actually asking you to raise the bar. A lack of diversity is the first indication that a company isn’t a meritocracy. So really, the joke’s on you because you’ve already lowered the bar without realizing it.”

6 Simple Actions Startups Can Take to Foster Diversity

The article, by Leela Srinivasan, CMO at SurveyMonkey (previously at Lever) is a guide for getting a pulse on where your team is starting regarding DEI, and how to take action immediately.

“Over the last two or three years, the diversity conversation has broadened to encompass both diversity and inclusion. In fact, many now argue that inclusion — creating the conditions in which employees of all backgrounds feel empowered to do their best work — needs to come first if you want your efforts to be sustainable. Or, put another way, it’s virtually useless trying to recruit diverse talent into an environment in which they won’t feel like they belong.”

  1. Get a pulse on where you’re starting from with DEI: Click through to answer several questions Srinivasan proposes to get a sense of where your team is currently.
  2. Teach your team to interview candidates consistently and objectively.
  3. Help the outside world understand you genuinely care about diversity.
  4. Make diversity a topic that everyone participates in.
  5. If diverse candidates aren’t coming to you, go find them.
  6. Don’t wait. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

Inclusion in Tech Guide

This publication from Atomico and Diversity VC is meant to serve as an actionable guide for founders and leaders of tech companies.

The guide covers:

  1. Understanding bias and building consensus
  2. Identify your needs for D&I strategy
  3. Ways to get buy-in from stakeholders
  4. Planning your D&I strategy
  5. Building and Implementing your plan: Diverse & inclusive hiring, diverse & inclusive workplaces, creating inclusive products & services
  6. Gathering feedback & iterating

How to Measure Diversity and Inclusion For a Stronger Workplace

Survey Monkey offers a guide on measuring DEI (including free survey templates), how to address DEI challenges, and build a feedback program.

  • Part 1: Measuring diversity and inclusion in your workforce. Get a baseline understanding of what diversity currently looks like within your company. This will tell you where you need to focus in hiring and supporting your existing team. How to define and measure inclusion.
  • Part 2: Common DEI challenges. Covers areas where companies commonly struggle with DEI. Includes specialized survey templates, advice, and research. Explores different potential areas of focus for DEI: Folks who identify as female, folks with disabilities, racial or ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA folks, and mental health.
  • Part 3: Actions to take to support DEI. Strategies to support a diverse and inclusive workplace, like creating an inclusive working environment and setting hiring and leadership diversity quotas.
  • Part 4: How to build a sustainable DEI feedback program. How to track progress over time using surveys.

Expert Trainers, Consultants, & Services

There are many initiatives you can take on internally as a founder or executive, with the help of your team. Sometimes, bringing in experts can help uplevel the quality, impact, and breadth of your DEI efforts. Here are experts who can help in different ways.

Inclusion Ventures

“We believe in the potential of people, organizations, and societies. We work with you to move from “checking the box” to creating organizational culture change that creates results. We create transformational experiences, skill-building, and knowledge transfer that lead to innovative practices, better decision-making, optimized performance, and, dare we hope, a better world.”

Services

  • Strategic consulting
  • Expert facilitation
  • Interactive workshops and trainings
  • Keynotes

Change Catalyst

“We advise governments, tech hubs and tech companies on how to build inclusive tech ecosystems, develop diversity and inclusion campaigns and design effective inclusion strategies around the globe.”

Services

  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Trainings and professional development
  • Storytelling campaigns
  • Resource toolkit development
  • Speaking
  • Events

Paradigm

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions that shift the Paradigm. We design data-driven strategies, implement programs with impact, and train employees and leaders for success.”

Services

  • Training and people development
  • Organizational strategy & transformation
  • DEI eLearning

Awaken

“Awaken offers interactive, thought-provoking workshops that enable today’s workforce to address tough diversity and inclusion, leadership, and culture questions head-on. Say goodbye to outdated diversity workshops and manager trainings that have not kept up with the times.”

Services

  • DEI workshops
  • Inclusive manager training program

ModelExpand

“We remove barriers so organizations can build more diverse and inclusive teams. ModelExpand specializes in employer branding and talent acquisition. Hiring is one piece of a holistic Diversity and Inclusion strategy, and it’s a critical one. Our services are designed to help teams attract, hire and support underrepresented talent through offerings that we curate based upon a company’s unique challenges.”

Services

  • Recruitment audit and strategy
  • Inclusive recruiting bootcamps
  • Network & events
  • Inclusive recruiting agency

Mind Share Partners

“Equip your leaders, managers, and teams to support mental health at work. Our training and advising services raise awareness and change company culture. Programs like this have a 6:1 ROI — double that of treatment programs, such as EAP counseling.”

Services

  • Training and advising solutions to support mental health:
  • Culture assessment & strategy
  • Manager training series
  • Executive strategy development

Tools

Tools can serve as a support and enhancement of your DEI efforts. Most are meant to be implemented within the hiring process as a way to make your recruiting pipeline, interviewing, and onboarding processes more diverse and inclusive.

Textio. Helps companies analyze the language in their job descriptions. “Great job candidates walk away when you don’t speak their language. Textio helps you find the right words by putting the world’s best hiring and language data insights right where you need them. Our latest features include ATS workflow integrations, age and ability bias interruption, and expanded language and team analytics.”

Gender decoder for job ads. Flags gendered language in job ads. “Without realising it, we all use language that is subtly ‘gender-coded’. Society has certain expectations of what men and women are like, and how they differ, and this seeps into the language we use. This site is a quick way to check whether a job advert has the kind of subtle linguistic gender-coding that has this discouraging effect.”

Entelo. Recruiting automation platform that has a diversity search feature to help you find more diverse candidates. “We built Entelo because we believe there is a better way to find the right people for your company. Using predictive algorithms, data-backed insights, and the single largest source of recruiting data, period, we’ve created a recruiting automation platform to help you recruit faster, smarter, and better.”

Alex. Catches gendered language in team communications and writings. “Alex is an open source tool that you can install wherever you do text editing (like Chrome or Slack). It will catch potentially hurtful language and subtly remind individuals how they might rephrase.”

This Inclusion in Tech resource offers a more in depth list of tools to support DEI efforts.

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Lauren Adelle Coaching

Executive Coach for startup founders, execs & investors. Background in Counseling Psychology & VC. Outgoing introvert. laurenadellecoaching.com