SJF’s Guide for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Best Practices

SJF Ventures has curated a list of actionable steps and resources to consider in working towards improving Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) practices.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Best Practices

SJF Ventures has curated a list of actionable steps and resources to consider in working towards improving Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) practices.

Start Here! in a speech bubble

Understand company culture around DEI and identify goals:

  • Evaluate the established practices at the company and consider how they can be expanded upon. Is there a diversity statement or policy in place?
  • Take the pulse of DEI at the company, with particular attention to hiring practices and advancement. ImpactAssets’ “Sample Diversity and Representation Survey for Internal Staff” provides a good starting point.
    • Suggested resources include:
    • SurveyMonkey: provider of free survey software to create
      and track customizable surveys.
    • 60 Decibels: provider of corporate, impact-oriented surveys and data analytics. SJF has worked with 60 Decibels on employee engagement surveys at portfolio companies.
  • Set DEI goals within the company, commit to DEI targets through talent acquisition, and track progress.
  • These goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based) to ensure they are clearly defined and trackable.
    • Suggested benchmarks include:
    • Matching corporate diversity with distributions in the larger population, e.g., 50% of the U.S. population is female.1
    • Targeting at least two diverse candidates in final round interview processes. This has been shown to increase the odds of a female hire by 79x and the odds of a minority hire by nearly 194x.2

What's Next? in a speech bubble

Expand the company’s network:

  • Do targeted outreach via social media, university groups, membership associations, career fairs, and anywhere else diverse candidates build networks, search for jobs, and identify mentors.
    • Suggested resources include:
    • AboveBoard: platform offers executives unprecedented access to opportunity and gives companies unparalleled access to new networks of talent.
    • CEOX: executive search and placement platform that connects highly qualified, executive-level female candidates to CEO and board roles.
    • Fairygodboss: online community for women, providing career connections, jobs, and advice.
    • Honest Jobs: fair-chance hiring marketplace for people impacted by the criminal justice system.
    • Inclusively: professional network transforming the way candidates with disabilities, mental health conditions, and chronic illnesses find jobs and connect to inclusive employers.
    • Jopwell: career advancement platform designed for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals. Jopwell is an SJF portfolio company.
    • Shift: career advancement and discovery platform for current and former members of the military. Shift’s Defense Ventures Program sponsors fellows for 8-week immersion programs at tech incubators and startups. Learn more here.
    • StartOut: community of LGBTQ+ founders, professionals, and Allies dedicated to increasing the number, diversity, and impact of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
    • The Boardlist: platform that connects diverse candidates with board opportunities globally.

And then? in a speech bubble

Address bias through the interview process:

  • Conduct blind resume reviews.
    • Suggested resource:
    • Career.Place: online platform for anonymous candidate screening.
  • Assemble diverse interview panels.
  • Standardize interview questions.
  • Eliminate talk about “culture fit;” instead, focus on “culture add” and “community.”3
  • Conduct ongoing bias / diversity training for interviewers and the company broadly.
    • Suggested resources:
    • Kirwan Institute: offers free online video course by Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the study of race and ethnicity on implicit bias.
    • Hone: offers online, interactive classes on leadership and management topics including DEI.

Key Step! in a speech bubble

Increase accountability:

  • Share DEI goals with the company and encourage collaboration on meeting those goals.
  • Employ systems such as fixed candidate-review timelines and develop a process for pivoting candidates to appropriate, open positions. This helps to propel candidates “through the funnel.”
  • Track and report progress towards DEI goals.

Learn More. in a speech bubble

Additional Resources and References:

This list is meant to be dynamic and SJF will continue to make updates over time. The SJF team welcomes all feedback and suggested additions.

For a downloadable pdf file of this page, click the link below:

SJF DEI Best Practices (2021)

Notes: 1) Forbes 2) Harvard Business Review 3) Mac’s List