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Short- and long-term DEI strategies to evolve your company culture

May 26, 2021
14 min read

What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you? At iCIMS, DEI is more than a compliance goal. It is a movement across the entire organization to attract diverse talent, create an inclusive workplace culture, and retain employees through equitable processes and experiences.  

To move your organization from compliance-focused to movement-focused, you will need a plan. These short-term and long-term DEI strategies will help you create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive experience at every stage of the talent pipeline. With time and commitment, you can see transformational change within your organization.

Want to see how your current strategy measures up to best practices? Download our DEI Scorecard. 

Short-term DEI strategies  

The first step in any DEI journey is to attract, engage, and hire people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. These short-term DEI strategies will help you source and qualify candidates from all backgrounds to widen your talent pool and increase your diverse workforce.

Tell DEI stories through your career site  

53% of candidates name career sites as the most valuable channel for researching an employer. This indicates that most job seekers looking for a DEI-focused organization will likely consider your career site the primary channel for information about your DEI practices. But only 48% of companies take advantage of their career site to promote their DEI statement. 

Video testimonials are an effective way to tell job seekers about your welcoming and inclusive culture. This messaging strategy is more authentic and relatable than stock photos or mission statements because the content is generated and delivered by your employees.  

If this sounds like it’s too complex or expensive, rest assured that there are no expert writers or videographers needed! With iCIMS Video Studio, you can get high-quality videos in a few steps:  

  1. Create a prompt like “How does our company foster diversity in the workplace?” 
  2. Request specific employees to answer the question 
  3. Employees take 30-60 seconds to record their answer 
  4. Trim videos down to the best answers, add your branding elements, and display on your career site  

Recommend jobs to candidates based on skill 

Have you ever shied away from a job application because you didn’t think you were qualified? Yeah, me too. This process of self-disqualification happens all the time and, in some cases, knocks out candidates who would be an excellent match for an open roleTo keep job seekers engaged and prevent self-disqualificationyou can use a conversational AI digital assistant 

Don’t worry, it’s not as complex as it sounds. AI digital assistant is a fancy way of saying recruiting chatbot. Take, for example, the iCIMS Digital Assistant, a recruiting chatbot that can help match potential candidates to open roles at your organizationThis recruiting chatbot asks questions and uses information provided by the potential candidate to recommend relevant opportunities that fit their skills and preferences.  

This short-term strategy can improve your DEI efforts by removing human bias from this part of the process and focusing solely on the candidate’s skills. Plus, it can drastically reduce the amount of time required for your TA team to review resumes and match them to open positions. The AI recruiting chatbot has done that work for them, speeding time to hire and creating a wider pool of qualified, diverse talent. 

Write inclusive job descriptions  

I know exactly how many jobs I applied to before accepting my position at iCIMS (68!). For every job application I submitted, there was one I didn’t complete because I felt I wasn’t a good fitThat’s 68 jobs I could have been qualified for but felt my skills didn’t meet all of the requirements or that the company was looking for a different personality fit.  

Exclusive, harmful language in job descriptions often turns away potential candidates by subtly implying that there is only one fit for the jobHere are some examples: 

  • Words that are more frequently associated with a specific gender such as “assertive” or “compassionate”  
  • Phrases that imply only one type of physical ability, such as “must be able to stand for 8 hours a day”  
  • Non-inclusive benefits like “maternity leave” instead of the inclusive version “parental leave” 

If these phrases are in your current job descriptions, it’s okay. Unfortunately, all humans have unconscious bias, and you’re likely not even aware of how these words and phrases might be a turn-off to others. That’s why it’s helpful to rely on non-human editors to reduce bias in your job descriptions and increase inclusive language.  

Solutions like Textio help you identify cliché or exclusive text in real time as you write. The tool integrates with your ATS so that you can write and post inclusive job descriptions all from one system. The more inclusive your language, the wider and more diverse your talent pool will be.  

Long-term DEI strategies 

Company culture is defined by the people within it. These long-term DEI strategies help you foster and sustain a diverse and inclusive culture by supporting the people who create it, your employees. 

Create and promote employee resource groups (ERGs) 

Creating a safe work environment should be at the top of your to-do list. This includes physical safety and psychological safety. What does that mean? Employees should feel safe to take risks, offer differing opinions, or admit mistakes without fear of being punished or embarrassed.  

Enter employee resource groups (ERGs). An ERG is a voluntary, employee-led group that creates a safe community for people that share a specific characteristicbelief, or experienceCommon ERGs include:  

  • Women in the workplace 
  • A network for people of color 
  • LGBTQ+ employees and allies 
  • Veterans and active service members 

ERGs allow employees the freedom to express themselves in a safe environment, find community, and collaborate on ways to further DEI within your organizationWhen you advocate for ERGs and psychological safety, you send a message loud and clear, “We accept and celebrate who you are!” 

In addition, a recent study by Google found that psychological safety ranked as the most important factor for team effectiveness. I.e., your team works better when they feel it is safe to be vulnerable. You can use ERGs as a practical way to empower individual employees to take ownership of DEI strategies while improving overall team performance.  

Design career pathing and skill-building opportunities for HEGs 

A friend of mine always wanted to be an engineer. She took drafting classes in high school and college but was encouraged by a counselor to earn a teaching degree insteadBecause of her gender and lack of formal education, she always assumed she wouldn’t be able to compete in the traditionally male-dominated field. But after years of feeling dissatisfied as a teachershe finally got the courage to take a leap of faith and apply for a position at aarchitecture firm. And she got the job!  

Did she have the highest degree of education? No.  

Did she have the most real-world experience? No. 

Did she have foundational knowledge, personality fit, and a passion to advance her skills? You betcha 

Throughout the interview process, the company and my friend discussed potential career paths and advancement opportunities. Without this conversation, she may have been passed over for a candidate from a more traditional background. However, because the company was willing to invest in my friend’s future and had a plan for career advancement, they won a diverse employee who has consistently added value to the company year after year. 

Hire a chief diversity officer  

This long-term strategy is all about demonstrating your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through a dedicated resource. When you invest in the employees and resources that will transform DEI within your organization, you show potential and existing employees that you will move forward in this journey together.  

A chief diversity officer takes all the moving parts of DEI, applies strategy and planning, and turns them into a cohesive movement. This executive should work strategically with the CEO and executive team to champion innovation in your products and services, process improvements, and financial ROI.  

To learn more about what a chief diversity officer does, read our conversation with the Dallas Mavericks’ Cynthia Marshall. 


No matter where you are in your DEI journey, you need a plan for short-term and long-term success. When you hire a chief diversity officer or similar role, they become the captain of your DEI ship, responsible for ensuring that your organization will head in the right direction as society changes.  

Where are you in your DEI journey? Find out with the DEI Scorecard.

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Emily McMichael

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