Engaging front-line workers in DEI initiatives can be challenging
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are critical to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace, but engaging front-line workers in these efforts can be a challenge. Front-line workers often have less access to decision-making processes and may feel disconnected from the broader goals of the organization. However, engaging front-line workers in DEI is essential for creating a culture of inclusion and equity throughout the organization.
I remember leading the safety program for a Fortune 50 global organization in the early 2000s. To me, diversity is in a very similar position today. It’s a newer focus and priority for front-line workers and there are a lot of concepts, education and training that need to be done to meet them where they’re at. Back then, I led daily safety topics at our startup meetings where we would unpack everything from how to properly lift heavy materials to proper usage of tools and equipment. We would share stories about when people got it right and when there were near misses or accidents at other facilities.
A similar approach is needed for DEI today. Having some small tidbit topics to break down at startup meetings or communication cadences to leaders and employees show it’s important. Short and simple breakdowns of more complex topics can help people understand that it’s a priority for everyone, especially for them. I like sharing scenarios and stories about common mishaps that happen at the front-lines, like situations where there was non-inclusive language used, microaggressions, or disrespectful behavior and then sharing what you could instead do differently.
Why should front-line workers care about DEI?
Front-line workers should care about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because it affects their daily work environment and overall job satisfaction. Here are some reasons why front-line workers should care about DEI:
- Improved Job Satisfaction: When front-line workers are part of an inclusive and equitable workplace, they feel valued and supported. This leads to higher job satisfaction, which can result in better performance and retention rates.
- Increased Productivity: A diverse and inclusive workplace allows for different perspectives and ideas to be shared, leading to increased creativity and innovation. This can result in better problem-solving and decision-making, which can ultimately lead to increased productivity.
- Better Collaboration: DEI initiatives create an environment where all employees feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and ideas. This can lead to better collaboration, improved teamwork, and ultimately, better results.
- Improved Customer Service: In a diverse workplace, front-line workers are better equipped to understand and serve a diverse customer base. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Personal Growth and Development: Engaging in DEI initiatives can help front-line workers grow and develop as individuals. By learning about different cultures, perspectives, and experiences, front-line workers can become more empathetic and understanding, which can benefit them both personally and professionally.
The top 5 ways to engage front-line workers in DEI efforts:
Front-line workers should care about DEI because it affects their daily work environment, job satisfaction, and personal growth and development. A diverse and inclusive workplace can lead to improved collaboration, productivity, customer service, and ultimately, better business outcomes. Here are some ways to engage front-line workers in DEI efforts:
- Provide Training and Education: Offer training and education on DEI topics to all employees, including front-line workers. This can include workshops, seminars, and online courses that provide a deeper understanding of DEI concepts and strategies. By providing education and training, you empower front-line workers to become advocates for DEI within their teams and departments.
- Create Opportunities for Input and Feedback: Provide opportunities for front-line workers to provide input and feedback on DEI initiatives. This can include surveys, focus groups, or town hall meetings where employees can share their thoughts and ideas. By involving front-line workers in the planning and implementation of DEI initiatives, you can increase their ownership and buy-in.
- Empower Front-line Leaders: Front-line leaders are often the closest to front-line workers and can be powerful advocates for DEI. Provide training and resources to front-line leaders to help them champion DEI efforts within their teams. Encourage them to lead by example and to model inclusive behaviors and language.
- Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion: Recognize and celebrate the diversity of your front-line workforce. This can include recognizing cultural holidays, highlighting employee backgrounds and experiences, and celebrating accomplishments that reflect the organization’s commitment to DEI. By celebrating diversity and inclusion, you create a sense of belonging and community among front-line workers.
- Incorporate DEI into Performance Metrics: Incorporate DEI into performance metrics for front-line workers. This can include metrics related to diversity hiring, employee engagement, and inclusion within teams. By tying DEI to performance metrics, you communicate the importance of DEI efforts and motivate front-line workers to engage in these initiatives.
Engaging front-line workers in DEI initiatives is essential for creating a culture of inclusion and equity throughout the organization. By providing training and education, creating opportunities for input and feedback, empowering front-line leaders, celebrating diversity and inclusion, and incorporating DEI into performance metrics, you can engage front-line workers in meaningful ways that drive progress towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
At Next Pivot Point we have lots of resources to help you facilitate successful diversity and inclusion initatives. Schedule some time with our team today to discuss where to start or how to do better. You can also check out:
- Our available workshop topics for developing inclusive leaders.
- Our Train the Trainer programs for scalability within your organization
- Our Right-Sized DEI micro-content packages for consistent small-drip content throughout the year.