How to Create a Diversity and Inclusion Council

Creating an inclusive workplace is one of the best ways to recruit, engage and retain your employees. Yet, while most organizations are getting on (if not already on) the diversity and inclusion bandwagon, many do not have the proper tools to sustain their progress.

Enter the diversity and inclusion council. This group of employees — which includes senior leadership and executives — acts on behalf of the company to jumpstart and manage the diversity and inclusion process. Creating a council allows your organization to communicate a bigger picture and assists company leadership by acting as a resource focused on diversity and inclusion efforts.

Here’s how you can start your own diversity and inclusion council.

Step 1: Learn how your organization can benefit from a diversity and inclusion council

Most companies think they’re doing all they can on the diversity and inclusion front. Yet, this simply isn’t true. For example, until review, most workplaces continue to hire in the same way they always have…through referrals! It’s common for established employees to give the names of their friends or family members who are looking for jobs. Unfortunately, they’re referring to candidates that are exactly like them. They’re from the same companies and school. They look alike and have similar interests. This results in a homogenous workforce and undermines true diversity and inclusion efforts. Understanding your starting point is crucial to recognizing how a diversity and inclusion council can get you to where you need to go.

Step 2: Establish a framework for your diversity and inclusion program

To create your council, you must have a set of best practices that you’re basing its foundation upon. Here are some that can help you get started:

  • Define the roles and responsibilities of the council
  • Identify your partners for key initiatives
  • Establish accurate representation
  • Determine membership expectations
  • Substantiate meeting cadence
  • Track and communicate progress
  • Determine how to recruit new members to the council

Step 3: Get executive support and establish a budget

Once you have your framework in place, it’s time to get buy-in from the top level. From the C-suite to human resources, legal, and the financial team, you need to make sure everyone is on board. This will provide legitimacy to your team and give you a budget to work with.

Keep in mind that receiving executive support also ensures that the rest of the company is represented. Not only do you want people of color and women involved but your diversity council should also be employee-led and come from the top-down. Ultimately, whoever is involved should reflect the greater population.

Step 4: Identify your mission as a council

What does your diversity and inclusion council stand for? As a group, identify what you want to do in your workplace? Each organization’s council will have a different spin on how to promote respect, inclusion, opportunity, and community in the workplace. That said, this mission should be at the forefront of all of you, so spend some time on it!

Step 5: Set goals and go after them

Your diversity and inclusion council has now been established. What’s next? Make some goals and go after them! You know you need to lay the groundwork for years to come. Consider the following as some of the goals you can set to work on in both the short-term and long-term. And keep in mind, this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means!

  • Launch a diversity and inclusion survey
  • Analyze and present data to your company
  • Create a monthly newsletter
  • Publish goals and data
  • Create recruiting goals for underrepresented minorities
  • Eliminate the hiring bias
  • Run recruiting events
  • Host employee resource groups, workshops, and speaker series
  • Have a diversity awareness month
  • Celebrate PRIDE

Final thoughts

As you start to create your diversity and inclusion program, keep in mind that it’ll be a work in progress. Remember, online diversity training is important! Be open to feedback from your executive leadership and the rest of your company. Continue to learn from your peers and draw insights from your data. And of course, never lose your passion or desire to want to make things better!

How to Launch a Diversity and Inclusion Program

Launching a diversity and inclusion program is a secret hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations are still waiting to find. As companies are fretting about headcounts, budgeting, and bandwidth, diversity and inclusion help to recruit, engage, and retain employees every single day.

If you’re interested in starting a diversity and inclusion program, read our guide below. It’s something you can get started on today, and with just a little bit of work, you can get your company on the right track.

  1. Use gender-neutral language in job descriptions

Job descriptions often use he/his/him pronouns as a default. Take time to convert all of your job descriptions to gender-neutral pronouns using This is a fantastic platform that can help get you off on the right foot with all potential candidates.

  1. Create a diversity and inclusion council

A diversity and inclusion council is a group that provides representation from different backgrounds within an organization. They meet on a specific cadence to discuss goals and how to move the company forward. A council makes collaborating on diversity and inclusion more intentional and likely. That said, if there are differing and conflicting views, then the success of the goals and effective use of time can differ widely.

  1. Diversify your pipeline

Organizations often have “obvious” sources of candidates. This can stunt diversity and inclusion efforts because most of the individuals who apply or interview come from the same schools, companies, or backgrounds. Instead, try to send one email or set up one coffee per week with a different type of candidate. This can help you begin to branch out and uncover candidates who would be a great fit for your company.

  1. Ban “culture fit” as a reason for rejecting a candidate

Interviewers often reject candidates due to a “gut feeling” or because of a “culture fit.” When this language pops up, challenge your interviewers to articulate a more specific reason why they don’t feel that the candidate will work well in that position. This is often a great way to uncover hidden biases and have open conversations about them. Just be sure to avoid punishing or shaming people in these contexts. At the end of the day, we all have inherent biases, and we all need to work on confront them!

  1. Create a diversity calendar

Chances are that your office already celebrates “mainstream” holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Yet, why not create a diversity calendar that includes everyone in the workplace? Holidays and events for underrepresented minorities like Black History Month and Pride Month are great ways to expand the love to everyone present.

Final thoughts

These five ways are only the start of expanding your diversity and inclusion efforts! If you’re feeling a bit stuck in how to advance your D&I work at your company, start that diversity and inclusion council as soon as possible. They’re a designated body that’ll help make sure you stay on top of your goals and nothing falls to the wayside.

Your Guide to Starting a Diversity and Inclusion Council

A diversity and inclusion council is a group that provides representation from different backgrounds within the organization. Monthly or quarterly, they’ll meet to discuss goals, provide advice on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and ensure that the organization continues to make progress in this realm.

In this blog, we’ll talk you through the process of creating a diversity and inclusion council. Here’s how to get started.

What’s your purpose in creating a diversity and inclusion council?

Creating a diversity and inclusion council helps to create strategic accountability for results and provides governance and oversight on diversity efforts. When there is progress to share, your D&I council can exercise their voice and communicate the larger picture to all employees.

To get a clearer picture of how a D&I council will operate and what purpose it will serve for your organization, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How large is your organization? What is your projected growth for the next year?
    • Your council size, potential members, and meeting cadence will depend on this
  • What are the criteria for your ideal chair and council members?
    • Ask yourself who you want to be involved and why
  • What are your current D&I issues?
    • Until you know what your current issues are, you can’t create a council that actively addresses them
  • Do you have employees and leadership engaged in D&I issues?
    • If yes, how so? If not, how can you begin to engage them?
  • Do you have expertise on D&I internally, or are you conflating passion for skillset?
    • Being passionate about diversity and inclusion is not the same as having expertise and experience in D&I strategy. This is an important distinction to make!

What type of council do you need?

There are two main types of diversity and inclusion councils. The first is a council consisting of members who sit in senior-leadership who have decision-making ability in the business. The second is a council that consists of junior to mid-tier employees from different backgrounds that provides insights from different lenses. You’ll need to decide which is the right type of council based on your goals.

What cadence of meetings should you set?

Setting regular meetings is necessary, but often meetings are need somewhere between a monthly and quarterly basis. This will likely depend on your individual circumstances as a company. This timeframe gives council members time to digest the previous meeting and see any positive or negative impacts of new initiatives that have been rolled out since. 

What commitment is realistic?

Being a member of the diversity and inclusion council is a time commitment of members. For junior and mid-tier members, a conversation should be had with managers ahead of the kickoff to ensure they have adequate time to attend. Furthermore, if someone is frequently not in attendance, then they may need to be replaced with someone else.

For C-suite members of the council (namely the CEO), it must be made clear that attending the council is part of their job and they must prioritize their attendance when at all possible. Being upfront about commitment is crucial to getting the program up and running.

What will success look like?

Once in motion, how will you know that the council is serving its purpose? Broadly defining success and how you will measure it will allow you to measure goals and address issues.

Final thoughts

Are you considering starting a diversity and inclusion council? Following this guide can help you bring together employees with experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion and use their expertise to improve your company. You’ve got this!

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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