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Action Ideas to Fuel Actionable DEI Initiatives – Part 3

DEI Initiatives are only as good as the changes they drive.

Great DEI initiatives have a measurable and sustainable impact on employee retention, engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and growth as well as the revenue, profits, product output, and other critical business objectives those happy, productive employees drive.

The key to great, impactful diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives is to fill it with actionable, measurable activities each with a budget, timeline, and priority.

Welcome back to this multi-part series sharing ideas for actionable, measurable actions to fuel impactful DEI initiatives.

In this part (part 3), we will explore actions to drive DEIB in…

Actionable DEI – Pay / Compensation

The goal of Pay / Compensation is to ensure every employee is compensated fairly and equitably for the work and value they provide to their organization.

This could be a great priority for your organization if your organization shows signs of pay or total compensation inequities. Common signs that there may be a problem are compensation discrepancies between demographics or disproportionate usage of benefits by demographics.

For example: if for the role of director, those in demographic A are paid on average 85% as much as those in demographic B. Or, while 45% of demographic A have used the mental health care benefit, only 15% of demographic B have used that same benefit.

Within Pay / Compensation, there are multiple areas to consider. Here are a few actionable DEIB ideas for each:

Pay equity

If your organization shows measurable differences between demographics of base salaries and/or total compensation for like roles in like locations, consider prioritizing pay equity activities. For example:

  • Establish pay bands by role/rank. Design these bands wide enough to allow for modest flexibility during negotiation and for growth through pay raises but narrow enough that there is little room for disparity between individuals or demographic groups. And adhere to them strictly. There is no such thing as a ‘deal’ when it comes to employing and retaining talent, and pay bands do little good if they are merely suggestions to ignore when convenient.

  • Build a roadmap to plan and communicate pay adjustments. When adjustments are necessary to achieve pay equity, not all organizations can afford to make the adjustments all at once. That is okay. Sharing a roadmap by department or location to show the timeline of pay evaluations and adjustments will let employees know they are not being ignored or missed, their turn is coming.

Awards / Rewards

Not all compensation comes in the form of salary and bonuses. Many organizations use awards or reward systems to further compensate top performers. If the same individuals or demographics dominate the recipient lists for these monetary gains, consider actions to increase equity and inclusion in these systems. For example:

  • Document and communicate the criteria to win various awards. Many times, employees are not effectively competing for awards because they are unaware of the rules in an actionable way. For example, “top performer” is not actionable. “Sold the highest volume of subscriptions” is actionable. Define the objective criteria for winning the award and how employees are selected and judged. Make sure the information is readily accessible and advertise it at the beginning of an upcoming award cycle so all who want to compete have equal opportunity to do so.

  • Ensure equitable access to opportunities to earn monetary rewards. Many organizations reward excellence for a given achievement, such as successful project completion or impactful sales campaign. These extra incentives are great for those who are given the opportunity to run those well-funded, high-profile project or sales campaigns. But if the opportunities are granted on preferences and not objective criteria, then so is the opportunity for monetary reward. Define objective requirements for the opportunities and enact equitable evaluation and selection steps to choose those who will be given those opportunities.


Even if benefits are offered to employees equally, it doesn’t mean that they benefit all employees equally. If your organization has disproportionate usage of benefits based on demographics, or if the engagement within benefits conversations and open enrollment is disproportionate based on demographics, consider actions that will increase benefit inclusion and equity. For example:

  • Conduct a diversity audit of benefits. Consider how the benefits cater to the needs of employees across a wide range of demographics: age, race/ethnicity, gender, medical needs, dependents and family needs, location, socioeconomic status, religion, etc. This includes meeting the needs of demographic preferences so the employee and their dependents can get the best, most comfortable care. For example, some women prefer a female gynecologist or obstetrician. Some Black/African Americans prefer a Black/African American psychologist.

  • Communicate the full range of benefits. Just because benefits are there, doesn’t mean everyone is equally aware of them and how to navigate through them. For example, some of your employees may be veterans of having healthcare coverage, while others may have never had coverage before. Help all employees understand what’s available and find what they need through accessible, easy to follow communications and assistance. Consider adding an anonymous help line for those with personal and important questions.

And there’s more…

If your organization has equal pay but the overall compensation still favors one or more demographics, consider actions that increase equity within bonus structures and stock options.

And, if your organization starts off with equitable pay, but that equity deteriorates over time, consider actions that increase the equity of salary adjustments and raises.

And, if compensation across time is equitable but you’re still getting a sense of unfair treatment from your employees, take a look at your non-monetary perks and how they are awarded.

And, this is only the beginning. There are actionable steps to increase DEI in talent engagement and talent acquisition, Employee Engagement and Culture, career progression, driving the future workforce, and philanthropy. All of which can greatly impact the health of your organization and workforce – but those are topics for other blogs.

You can do it, we can help

Building a DEI initiative full of actionable, measurable content takes a bit more work, but has so much more return than good intentions and some awareness training. It is the difference between wishing things would change and driving change. You can do it, we can help.

If you need help getting started or you need a guide to help identify all that potential opportunity so you can start populating an actionable DEI plan, we’ve got you covered. We, at, offer everything from friendly advice to a deep dive DEI strategy workshop to explore all the exciting corners of what’s possible. Contact us today. We’d love to hear from you.

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