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DEI Blog Series: 5 Organizational Policies to Advance DEI


This is the sixth of 10 installations of Envol’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Series!  

Our goal is to support organization leaders in taking real action to advance DEI within their teams, throughout their business, and in their communities.  

Today, we’re talking about how organizational policies advance DEI in the workplace and 5 examples of policies that you can create or review with a DEI lens to get you started. 

Company Policies Impact Organizational Culture  

While policies alone are not the key to shifting your organizational culture, they functionally set clear expectations for your workforce and reinforce organizational priorities. 

Policies can aid in shifting your company culture when they are operationally integrated and enforced; this impacts how people within your organization are compelled to act. 

An important distinction to make here is between equality and equity. Equality relates to equal rights and liberties but fails to incorporate the nuance of an individual’s unique situation and set of circumstances. Equity, on the other hand, is about ensuring everyone has access to equal results, benefits, and opportunities. 

If fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is a priority to your business and you haven’t yet assessed your policies with a DEI lens, we’re here to help! 

Assessing Your Policies with a DEI Lens 

When assessing how organizational policies disproportionately impact your team, you need to bring an awareness of the diverse identities among your workforce and how systemic barriers impact historically marginalized groups. 

With this awareness, you will be able to reflect on how your policies interact with historically marginalized populations and the systemic barriers they face. 

This blog isn’t the right forum for us to holistically address the breadth of systemic barriers that impact marginalized groups; however, there are many online resources you can consult to enhance your awareness. 

To help illustrate how system barriers in the employee lifecycle impact marginalized groups, check out Workplace Policies, Practices, and Decision-Making Processes and Systems Discrimination from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. 

5 Policies to Create or Assess to Get You Started 

This non-exhaustive list of policies intends to support you in the critical reflection of assessing how your policies may exclude or not accommodate your employees equitably. 

  1. Create a DEI policy. A standalone DEI policy is a useful tool for clearly articulating your company’s stance on DEI and your collective goals and strategic priorities. It’s important to note that you all company policies should be reflective of DEI; your DEI policy will not be able to cover all relevant areas.
    • Ensure that employees from every marginalized group are included under the policy to promote their inclusion, protection, and value. 
  1. Evaluate your hiring policies. Ask yourself the following:
    • Do our policies require interview panels to be diverse?
    • Do our policies require everyone in the hiring process to undergo unconscious bias training?
    • Do our policies ensure a diverse pool of candidates for hire? How? 
  1. Assess your policies for employees to raise concerns. Ask yourself the following:
    • Do we have specific leadership delegates to engage with employees who feel discriminated against?
  1. Review your Code of Conduct/Respectful Workplace Policy. Ask yourself the following:
    • Do our respectful workplace policies include the importance of cultural awareness?
    • Do our policies support marginalized workers in feeling safe to bring forward their concerns and experiences? 
  1. Consider your time-off policy. Ask yourself the following:
    • Do our policies offer flexibility to employees based on their cultural and/or religious practices/beliefs?

Not sure about your next steps? Reach out to our team of HR experts – we’re here to help!  

Check out the other articles in our DEI Blog Series here!