The Ultimate DEI Checklist
By Luis Augusto Nobre, Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada
One of the most common things for us human beings is to create a checklist to help organize our lives and thoughts. Some people have lists for when they are packing (with modified versions depending on where they are going and for how long), organizing a party or an event, getting married, buying weekly groceries or planning their daily activities at work. Even to leave the house: Did I turn off the oven? Is the house alarm on? Have I turned off the lights? Have I closed the door properly? Anything to help us deal with the sensation of forgetting something.
Those checklist questions are healthy and help us organize the world around us. We also develop inquiries related to everything else, including how companies and organizations should implement diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. This is why I decided to share the most accurate DEI checklist to help anyone else who wants to implement diverse and inclusive policies. The checklist I am about to share could be a fantastic tool to accommodate different needs and improve a sense of belonging. Here it is: acknowledge and respect every individual and their identities, differences, needs and personalities.
Okay, you might think it isn’t a proper checklist, and I agree with you – because this ultimate list of tasks to implement DEI in the workplace doesn’t exist. You can collect and organize best practices from different industries, sectors, corporations and cultures, but you still won’t be able to develop a list and implement all of them into your organization. We have to analyze and consider the differences with a caseby-case lens as needs appear from the people we work with and the geographic locations we work in.
We must agree that following standard best practices is a smart way to ensure the right direction if we don’t consider them as a checklist. It is just a direction for our initiatives. When we work to create and improve a sense of belonging, there are so many specificities and intersections to consider that implementing DEI policies becomes an ongoing process with a neverending finish line. Unless we change some pillars of the current economic model and remove systemic barriers, inequities will continue impacting marginalized communities.
Another point we cannot leave aside is the intersectionality of the whole process, as individuals have multiple ways to selfidentify. Leaders and DEI professionals have to consider different methods to increase accessibility at all levels. Many organizations have a pyramid structure, and those DEI initiatives should also be applied to the top leadership levels, not just the base.
There is research and data showing that the higher you go, the less diverse and inclusive those leadership roles are. This lack of inclusivity at leadership levels should indicate a common duty to reduce inequities in our systems. It also reinforces that a checklist is inexistent or inefficient. We cannot only consider DEI initiatives when it is convenient, because then we will be dealing with double standards and empty marketing promotions. When we look closely at best practices, we can recognize those issues and work on fixing them in our work environments.
You might be frustrated at this point because you came to get answers, and you ended up with more questions. This is what happens when we dig into a topic – the amplitude of our knowledge brings more questions seeking answers. However, we must realize that some of those queries are the pathway to achieving our goals, and we need to spend our energy and resources on them.
Looking for items in a checklist won’t lead you to the place you expect. Instead, you should learn more about inclusive best practices and initiatives that could be applied in your workplace, in the improvement of your policies, in the development of partnerships among your workforce and community members, in the advancement of your leadership engagement and in anything else related to your DEI strategy and goals.
Land acknowledgement, neutral language and pronouns, genderneutral washrooms and special month celebrations (Black History Month in
February, Pride Month in June, Mental Health Awareness Month in May, etc.) could easily act as items on a checklist. However, even after reading everything above, you might still need an ultimate DEI checklist. Here are three suggestions from some best practices and other resources:
Treat people well by respecting who they are, regardless of gender, origin, skin colour, sexual orientation, faith, etc.;
Always try to create the best sense of belonging for those around you and accommodate their needs as special guests at your dinner table; and
Remove systemic barriers.
Luis Augusto Nobre is a marketing and communications coordinator at Pride at Work
Canada/Fierté au travail Canada. For more information on the organization and its work, visit