7 Key Steps to Implement DEI in Your Club: Part 2

In the first of two articles related to implementing DEI strategy into fitness clubs, Michaela Brown encouraged readers to understand the language around DEI. In Part 2, these next steps are ways to take action once you’ve established your understanding and helped your staff to educate themselves.

In our first article on Key Steps to Implement DEI in Your Club, I shared the basics to understanding terminology related to DEI. These steps included:

  1. Defining DEI

  2. DEI Valuation

  3. Identifying & Training Against Threats to DEI

The following four steps are action items to take now that you’ve solidified your understanding of DEI:

  1. Establish a DEI Board

  2. Train & Hire for DEI Success

  3. Show Off Your DEI

  4. Constantly Assess Your DEI

Step Four: Establish a DEI Board

DEI boards serve as advisors to decision-makers on important DEI matters that can positively and negatively impact employees, clients, and the greater community. The board’s guidance can proactively insulate organizations from legal mishaps or missteps, and the sheer existence of a DEI board signals that a company is invested in workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Here are eight quick tips for creating a DEI board at your company.

  1. Mission: Company leaders should establish a clear mission for the future board. Who will they be? What will they do? Who will they represent?

  2. Selection Committee: Company leaders should assemble a selection committee for the board made up of participants that have a clear understanding of the company’s DEI mission.

  3. Diversity: The board should best reflect the diversity that the company strives for, including people of different races, genders, ages, positions, and relationships with the company.

  4. Autonomy: Once board members are selected, they should be given the freedom to organize and run the board as they see fit, so long as it is consistent with the company’s established DEI mission. That said, a board will be most successful if both the company and the board engage each other like partners with the same goals.

  5. Structure: Once the board is formed, it is imperative that it create a governing document that defines its composition, leadership hierarchy, service terms, meeting schedule, its goals, and how it intends to accomplish those goals. These bylaws should also address items like board member expectations, contingency plans for when board members resign or need to be removed, and how new members will be selected.

  6. Scope: The board should define a measurable scope of work that is derived from its mission and that is executed by small group committees. Defining and executing the work in this manner will help the board focus its efforts and avoid member burnout.

  7. Committees: The board should create a committee for every overarching initiative. For example, talent management, culture and development, bylaws and parliamentary procedures, community relations, and marketing.

  8. Confidentiality: The board may be asked to discuss or resolve highly sensitive matters. So, having each board member sign a non-disclosure agreement will allow the company to engage the board in a more open, honest, and thoughtful way without fear of exposure.

Step Five: Train & Hire for DEI Success

Everyone within the organization is responsible for carrying out the company’s DEI initiatives. Chances are that if you as the change-agent do not know how to carry out the initiatives, then many others also don’t know how. The lack of initial knowledge or resources makes DEI-based employee training and the intentional hiring of leaders with professional exposure to DEI a critical part of the culture shift. Organizations should seek the help of professionals and/or leverage the expertise of their DEI board to accomplish this.

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Step Six: Show Off Your DEI

Organizations must be big, bold, and loud about their commitment to DEI. Two great ways to accomplish this is through marketing approaches and town hall meetings.

Including a diverse group of people and images in visual marketing campaigns and social media posts are just some of the ways that a company can flex its DEI muscles. This is important because it allows people who are not privy to all the great behind-the-scenes work to experience the organization’s commitment to DEI. It creates buy-in from stakeholders.

Employee- and client-centered town halls are another way for an organization to highlight their dedication to DEI. That said, I should caution you to be prepared for tough conversations, hard truths—or perceptions—and conflicting perspectives.

The flip side is that information acquired from town halls can also offer healing, positive reinforcement and a road map for how to embark on your DEI journey. Town hall meetings are powerful because they speak to the organization’s willingness to hear, consider, and speak to the needs of all people in their community.

Step Seven: Constantly Assess Your DEI

DEI is a fluid endeavor and changes with the landscape of personnel, organizational structure, existing gaps, and demands from the greater community. Embrace this idea and commit yourself to constant proactivity, assessment, and action on the DEI front.

We started these articles with the goal of identifying the “what” and “how” of organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion. How are you feeling about it now? Are you excited to get started? Or do you need more information?

Either way, I hope you’ll take a deeper dive into this topic by joining me at my roundtable discussion, Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Conversation Starter, on Thursday, June 23, from 2 - 3 p.m. at #IHRSA2022 in Miami Beach, FL.

Author avatar

Michaela Brown

Known for her tenacious energy, ambition, and commitment to physical fitness, Michaela Brown is a General Manager at VIDA Fitness where she empowers the company’s culture, operations, and community impact. A veteran of the fitness industry with over 20 years of experience as an athlete, coach, personal trainer, and group exercise instructor, her success in the field comes as no surprise. Prior to joining VIDA's team, Michaela was a successful entrepreneur, having run a popular women's fitness studio for 12 years in Washington, D.C. With a proven track record in driving organizational excellence and steering positive collaborative environments, she serves as Chairwoman of VIDA's first Diversity and Inclusion Board, lending a wealth of vision and experience to the organization’s mission.