Pub. 11 2020 Issue 4 10 West Virginia Banker E mployers know that a happy and thriving workforce is more pro- ductive and, consequently, more profitable. In today ’ s workplace, more employers recognize that diversity, eq- uity, and inclusion (DEI) play a key role in an organization’s success. Increased diversity promotes ingenuity and crea- tivity. Equity cultivates trust and a sense of fairness. Inclusion fosters loyalty and commitment. This is why employers to- day endeavor to implement and devel- op rich diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the workplace. It is not a simple undertaking, and it in- volves much more than written policies and plans (although such policies and procedures are a foundational compo- nent of any successful program). More importantly, a successful DEI program requires a meaningful shift in culture and a change in mindset, starting with the organization’s top leadership. It is hard work. But the outcomes from a successful DEI program can be trans- formative for the organization. There are countless opportunities to develop DEI in the workplace. To get started, however, here are five key con- cepts to consider: 1. Understand the business case for DEI; 2. Identify and empower DEI allies; 3. Measure the organization’s current diversity and culture; 4. Audit the organization’s policies; and 5. Educate all stakeholders. As more fully explained below, these guiding principles are only building blocks for a thoughtful and compre- hensive DEI program. The success of that program depends heavily on the Building Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace By Ashley Hardesty Odell, Bowles Rice LLP organization’s willingness to invoke and promote change. First, be prepared to discuss DEI within your organization as more than a moral imperative. Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion is, of course, the right thing to do. But it is also a business investment. And understanding the business case for DEI will capture more buy-in from more stakeholders. A workplace that is not diverse, equita- ble, or inclusive is far less productive. Diverse teams are more innovative and create new and different oppor- tunities. Millennials and Generation Z insist on DEI, so a comprehensive and meaningful DEI program can help with recruiting and retention. Finally, clients and customers want the businesses that they patronize to be more diverse and reflective of themselves. Framing dis- cussions around the potential financial outcomes resulting in the organization ’ s investment in DEI is essential to any DEI program ’ s success. Second, identify and empower DEI advocates in the organization. Make sure those allies are well represented in the organization’s top leadership. Real DEI advocates and allies are agents of change, and they will push for more than lip service or a “check the box” DEI program. Empower those allies and change agents with meaningful programming designed to transform the organization’s culture. Appoint a DEI officer and committee and give them measurable expectations. It also is important to identify allies from outside the organization and use their influence. Perhaps some of your best customers are DEI advocates and could influence the organization to focus on the issue. Perhaps your competitors are investing in DEI and seeing positive outcomes. It is very unlikely that all stakeholders will support DEI, but