HR’s Role in Advancing Equity & Inclusion

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Human resources practitioners serve as vital gatekeepers between an organization’s management and its employees. They play a crucial role in building organizational architecture and maximizing human potential through talent attraction, sourcing, development and retention.

Now more than ever before, there is an immense need to drive sustainable change and implement policies and practices surrounding DE&I at the workplace.

Source: SME Centre

The first step is to seek to understand by committing to education and awareness.

It’s important to assess your understanding of DE&I and identify any weaknesses or gaps in your knowledge. Factors, such as, understanding intersectionality & equity vs. equality, and unlearning biases, stereotypes and preconceived notions about a group(s) of people are all critical in working toward change. It is also crucial to understand various lenses and experiences that are different than yours (ex: understanding the experiences of Black people or the negative stereotypes that Hispanic/Latinx folks are viewed by).

The second step is to center and influence change as part of your role at the workplace.

A few key ways to do this is by leaning into uncomfortable conversations, working on being an active ally, holding stakeholders accountable when need be, and being conscious and intentional in the decision making process. As HR professionals, you have the position of authority to foster change from an organizational standpoint, influencing both management and staff members in partaking in these practices. This change can be implemented through various forms, from creating employee resource groups and affinity groups, to empowering staff members to speak up when they see or hear behavior that goes against organizational values.

The third and most crucial step is to measure and analyze your organization’s success in implementing policies and practices.

Both quantitative and qualitative metrics, such as employee demographic, culture surveys, policy usage, exit interviews, networking/team socials and much more, are extremely useful in collecting statistically valid data and conclusions. When weighing these results, it's crucial that all voices are heard and represented equally. It will allow you to objectively see what is and is not working well for your organization, and where you can implement new policies & practices.

When creating effective policies and practices, consider how adequate, legal and impactful it will be on the entire organization. Refer to the table below for a breakdown of each pillar and questions to consider before implementing change.

Below is a checklist I guide my partners through to assess if policy & practices are centering diversity, equity & inclusion. Reflect and consider areas of opportunity.



1. Is the policy title & content brief, transparent and easy to understand? 2. Have I considered a broad range of possibilities & scenarios?


1.Does this policy perpetuate or help to dismantle historical, legal, or other barriers? 2. Have I considered implications for protected class(es)?


1. Is the policy’s language clear, equitable & inclusive? 2. Can the policy’s impact be measured through data?

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