Today, commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is much more than a few sentences on a company’s careers page. Organizations across industries are harnessing new policies and initiatives to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces, because not only is DEI the right thing to do, but time and again, research shows that robust DEI initiatives lead to better business overall. Greater employee satisfaction, higher profits, and boosted retention are all linked to prioritizing DEI.
DEI is also something people want, as some research featured below (Day 5) illustrates, and improvement in DEI is up to all of us, not just HR and People departments. DEI is a personal and professional journey that we take on in order to make the world and workplace better for all people.
That can be intimidating, and perhaps you’re still trying to grasp what the concept of DEI really means. Maybe you’re ready to do something to contribute, but you’re not sure what steps to take.
Start here. This guide covers what DEI means and 30 DEI activities you can do to explore concepts related to DEI, across various forms of media. You can start right now to get educated and get inspired.
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?
First, let’s (quickly) cover the basics of DEI: it stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion, in case you haven’t caught that yet. The goal of DEI is for all people to have equal opportunities, to ensure teams and groups are diverse (including race, age, gender, sexual orientation, background, etc.), and for everyone to feel welcome.
DEI is a key component of creating a safe and supportive work environment—or any environment for that matter. It operates under the idea that all people should feel included and equal, and that a team shouldn’t consist of just one type of person. If this is your first introduction to the term DEI, then read this article for a more in-depth look at what each term means before beginning the 30-day challenge.
Ready to begin learning? Complete this 30-day DEI challenge
Now it’s time to dig in. Complete these 30 activities to orient yourself to some of the history, common terms, literature, and topics that inform the ways companies and people navigate DEI. Time for each activity will vary, and this challenge is by no means comprehensive.
Day 1: Read this article: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All
Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote this groundbreaking article in The Atlantic in 2012. While the modern woman is represented as someone who can do it all—have a full-time career, raise the children, and keep the home in order—the fact is, it’s hard. Slaughter landed her dream job as the State Department’s director of policy planning and the first woman with that title, but she found it incredibly challenging to be a mom and wife while doing it. Read what Slaughter argues needs to change for women to truly be able to “have it all.”
More reads on feminism and the workplace:
Day 2: Listen to this podcast episode: Mindful Anti-Racism with Faitth Brooks
The Diversity Gap is a podcast hosted by Bethaney Wilkinson, author of the eponymous book, “where good intentions meet true cultural change.” This particular episode features Faitth Brooks, an anti-racism educator and activist and author of The Anti-Racism Journal. The two women talk about how to be mindful of racial justice work to create a better future for everyone.
More on racism, oppression, and discrimination in the workplace:
Day 3: Watch this TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability
Professor and researcher Brené Brown discusses vulnerability, belonging, and love in this popular TED Talk. Knowing and accepting more about ourselves leads to a deeper understanding of humanity, which fosters empathy and inclusion. This talk is a great starting point for anyone wanting to build their awareness—of themselves and their community.
More on related topics:
Day 4: Read this article: 3 Essential Steps to Allyship in Times of Crisis
In times of crisis, like when witnessing acts of racism and violence in the community or in the news, we see the best and the worst of humanity, as InHerSight’s Beth Castle reminds us in this article on allyship. Managers need to step up and recognize how underrepresented groups impact employees during these challenging times. Castle connects with Better Allies founder Karen Caitlin about recognizing privilege and ways to check in with employees.
More on related topics:
Day 5: Explore this research: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace
May 2023 data from the Pew Research Center found that most employees in the U.S. think DEI at work is a good thing—but as you explore Pew’s research further you’ll find that the value and effectiveness of DEI is perceived differently by demographic. Read the full report to see how gender, race, age, ethnicity, and more impact stats on DEI.
Day 6: Watch this TED Talk: The Importance of Using Inclusive Language
This stirring talk features Fahad Saeed, a diversity trainer, discussing the importance of language and how it can break down barriers for marginalized people. A gay Muslim man born to immigrant parents, Saeed explains the impact of uprooting negative constructs and how positive perceptions of personal identity can support marginalized communities.
More on inclusive language:
Day 7: Read this article: How to Pronounce Names Correctly & Why It Matters
Did you know that pronouncing someone’s name correctly is an act of allyship? Check out this article from our very own Cara Hutto about how pronouncing names the right way allows us to practice both allyship and anti-racism in the moment. Really, this should be the bare minimum in an inclusive work environment, Hutto reminds us. Correct pronunciation is a sign of respect and shows others we value them.
Day 8: Explore this web page: What Is Intersectionality?
Intersectionality has become another buzzword for organizations across industries. But what does it really mean? And how does it relate to DEI? Check out this in-depth page from the Center for Intersectional Justice to learn all the basics and why it’s important.
More on intersectionality:
Day 9: Listen to this podcast episode: Everything Clicked… And the Riot Was On
This is the second episode of Making Gay History’s special Stonewall 50 series, all about the unlicensed gay club, Stonewall Inn, in New York City, in 1969. The episode covers the police raid on the club and the uprising that followed, leading to a major movement for the LGBTQ community and subsequent civil rights movements.
More on the LGBTQ+ experience at work:
Day 10: Read this article: How Misogyny Became Part of Our Culture & Workplaces
This post from Stephanie Olsen dives into misogyny and its continued prevalence in our workplaces. How is misogyny different from sexism? And who is most affected by it today? Olsen covers it all, and emphasizes why allyship in the workplace (and beyond) is more important than ever.
More on related topics:
Day 11: Listen to this podcast episode: Ask Code Switch: What About Your Friends?
NPR’s podcast Code Switch digs into race with straightforward topics. This episode, “Ask Code Switch: What About Your Friends?” discusses, in partnership with WNYC’s Death, Sex & Money podcast, how systemic racism impacts who we form social groups with and how to navigate talking about race in interracial friendships.
Day 12: Listen to this song: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Even if you’ve heard it before, Gil-Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” deserves another listen as part of your 30-day DEI challenge. Heron wrote the song amid the Black Power movements of the 1960s and ‘70s in response to a line from The Last Poets’ “When the Revolution Comes”: “When the revolution comes some of us will probably catch it on TV.” The song has been inspiring activists for decades since.
Day 13: Watch this TED Talk: We Need Leaders Who Boldly Champion Inclusion
Author, TV presenter, and executive June Sarpong gives this TED Talk about why and how leaders need to be the ones to foster inclusion. She challenges them to be the first to act, especially as 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are still white men.
Day 14: Explore this research: LGBT People’s Experience of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment
UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute conducted a study to examine LGBT employment discrimination during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Among many other insights, the report found that almost half of these workers experience unfair treatment, either sometime in their lives or at their jobs.
Day 15: Listen to this podcast episode: Microaggressions Are a Big Deal: How to Talk Them Out and When to Walk Away
The podcast Life Kit from NPR provides “tools to help you get it together.” In this episode, psychology professor Kevin Nadal talks about microaggressions—those seemingly small gestures or comments that add up and contribute to racism, sexism, and other big problems.
More on microaggressions:
If you have more time, browse InHerSight’s six-part series on microaggressions, which feature women’s firsthand experiences.
Day 16: Read this article: 30 Realities of Being a Working Mom & How to Deal
As if women don’t face enough discrimination in the workplace, imagine how it increases exponentially for pregnant women and mothers. In this guide, Anna Louise Pickens walks through common challenges and experiences working moms face and how to deal with the stress.
More on working motherhood:
Day 17: Listen to this song: One Love/People Get Ready
Originally just “One Love,” this jam was rewritten and recorded by Bob Marley in 1977 as “One Love/People Get Ready,” incorporating parts of the Impressions’ song “People Get Ready.” The song has long been used to encourage people to come together and act to promote equality. Marley also had in mind political issues and violence in Jamaica in the 1970s when he wrote it.
More on related topics:
Day 18: Watch this TED Talk: How to Recognize Privilege—And Uplift Those Without It
In this deep dive into privilege, founder, lawyer, and human rights advocate Mariam Veiszadeh breaks down the biases we might have about quality in business. She tells stories and pulls in research to encourage leaders to actually change how they approach diversity and inclusion at work.
Day 19. Ready this article: Ageism Is One of the Last Socially Acceptable Prejudices. Psychologists Are Working to Change That
Don’t forget that a big part of workplace equality is addressing ageism, which often gets overlooked when thinking about DEI strategy. This guide by Kirsten Weir walks through how ageism is still prevalent in our work culture and how researchers, activists, and psychologists are attempting to reframe attitudes and stereotypes.
Day 20: Read this article: How to Effectively—and Legally—Use Racial Data for DEI
Lily Zheng wrote this article for the Harvard Business Review, and she talks about the often confusing position businesses are in when they want to focus on diversity in their hiring practices. She also discusses how the 2023 Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action impacts this topic.
Day 21: Listen to this song: Freedom
This tune released in 2016 by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar was an instant banger. When the Black Lives Matter movement resurged in 2020, “Freedom” became its anthem. The main theme is how Black women continue to face violence in today’s culture.
More on related topics:
Day 22: Read this article: The Dangers of Mistaking Diversity for Inclusion in the Workplace
This article, written by Dana Brownlee, first appeared in 2019 in Forbes. It provides the important difference between diversity and inclusion, terms that are often used interchangeably. Brownlee challenges leaders to go beyond adding a few people of color to a team or board just to check off the diversity box.
More on inclusion:
Day 23: Read this article: Removing the Roadblocks That First-Generation Americans Face at Work
Often, first-generation Americans face major challenges when trying to fit into the country’s work culture. In this article, Bhavik R. Shah, whose family immigrated from India, talks about how to support this underrepresented group.
Day 24: Watch this TED Talk: 3 Ways to Be a Better Ally in the Workplace
Inclusion specialist and writer Melinda Briana Epler recognizes that many factors go into our ability to succeed—including race, gender, and sexual orientation, to name a few. In this talk, she walks through how we can truly support others in the workplace and become allies to all.
Day 25: Listen to this song: A Change Is Gonna Come
This classic by Sam Cooke was released in 1964 but remains poignant and applicable today. Cooke faced many instances of racism and discrimination in the American South, particularly on a visit to Louisiana when a hotel refused to let him stay there. He wrote this song to exemplify the African American struggles in the U.S., but its lyrics still provide a sense of hope that one day, things will change.
Day 26: Read this article: Your Workforce Includes People with Disabilities. Does Your People Strategy?
Even though 25 percent of people say they have a disability, most organizations believe that only 4 percent to 7 percent of their employees have one. This article and research from Boston Consulting Group walks through how to ensure an organization’s people strategy is aligned with that fact.
Day 27: Read this article: How to Support an LGBTQ Employee Coming Out in the Workplace
Many LGBTQ+ employees may not be out at work. But when they decide to make this big move, it’s important to know how to be a true ally. Skye Schooley talks about how to support them, including using inclusive language and creating the right work environment from the beginning.
Day 28: Explore this research: Why Managers Deny Inequity in Their Own Organizations
It’s an unfortunate fact that many business leaders deny that anything’s wrong as far as equity and inclusion for their workforce. This research from Harvard Business Review walks through why this is and what to do about it.
Day 29: Explore this web page: Implicit Bias
Facing and addressing our biases is an important step in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. What is implicit bias, and how does it get in the way? This page from the National Institutes of Health talks about this specific form of bias and what the research says.
Day 30: Listen to this podcast episode: We Solved Racism Special
Now, end your 30 days on a playful yet impactful note. Activist and producer Andrew Ti started the Yo, Is This Racist? podcast and now hosts it with Tawny Newsome. In this 1000th episode, the hosts welcome guests representing various marginalized groups and challenge everyone to avoid talking about race in what is essentially a comedic hangout session. Spoiler: Race comes up.