Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

The Nebraska Arts Council believes that the arts are central to the well-being of our state and thrive because of the diverse contributions of every Nebraskan. It is crucial to support and invest in diverse people, organizations, and communities, fostering their uniqueness and assuring the long-term viability and prosperity of our state. It is on the shoulders of every Nebraskan to practice the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in their communities.

Download the full DEI Policy as a PDF document.

7 Steps to a DEI Plan

Step by step guide to initiating diversity and inclusion planning

The following seven steps can be used to build a strategic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan (DEI plan).

  1. Establish Organizational Values
  2. Setting goals
  3. Collect data
  4. Identify needs/ concerns
  5. Develop a plan
  6. Implement the plan
  7. Measure the results and adjust

1. Establish Organizational Values

Take the time to assess baseline attitudes of the organization’s staff and board members, establishing their readiness to begin this work. Commitment and support from staff, board members, and the greater community is essential.  This work should not be perceived as a burden nor an additional responsibility. Try these strategies for progressing DEI work in your organization:

  • Develop organization-wide support by involving a broad base of key individuals and groups within the organization.
  • Acknowledge that each individual’s perceptions and feelings are real.
  • Move around, under, or between key people who seem stuck. Use whatever support they give you as an opportunity to help the change effort.
  • Prepare to respond to backlash as a sign of positive change.
  • Support targeted groups in identifying their individual and collective issues. Develop organizational networks and support groups that are homogeneous and heterogeneous.
  • Look for and acknowledge positive signs of change. Celebrate the effects of your actions.
  • Recognize that dealing with these issues is a process, not a product. As you progress, new issues will emerge. Be prepared to see this as an ongoing effort in the life of the organization.
  • Develop a long-term vision (DEI plan!) that includes a total system change with built-in accountability.

2. Setting goals

DEI plans must align with your organization’s mission and vision statements, as well as with your core values. Having a written DEI plan shows your commitment to your community, allowing everyone to see the goals you are trying to achieve and the path you intend to use to achieve them.

One way to take the first step is to write a Diversity and/or Inclusion Statement that acts as a primary goal for your organization and a guide for the objectives and activities listed in your plan. An example might be, “We strive to respect and embrace individuals from different age groups, classes, ethnicities, genders, abilities, races, sexual orientations and religions.”

Then, you can begin to develop smaller objectives to help achieve your goals.

3. Collect data

After building a Diversity/Inclusion Statement, organizations need to know who their employees, artists, and patrons are so that they can tailor their plans appropriately. You should track your own data over time and introduce changes to your plan when needed. Demographic data collections may include the following:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity/national origin
  • Family status
  • Gender
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Language
  • Life experiences
  • Personality type
  • Physical characteristics
  • Race
  • Religion, belief, and spirituality
  • Sexual orientation
  • Thinking/learning styles
  • Veteran status

Captured information is valuable for both the practices of DEI and human resources planning, which then enables organizations to understand staff and patrons better and to address any needs and concerns timely and more effectively.

There are many sources you can use to collect the data from different groups, such as census information, but most organizations will need to conduct some additional voluntary surveying to acquire self-identification data, such as religion or sexual orientation. Be transparent about how these pieces of information will and could be used. Otherwise, it leads to ambiguity and mistrust. This step is crucial to making everyone feel more comfortable with being exposed as it shows how much you are committed to developing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Please remember that these demographics could not entirely represent every individual. Stereotypes are extremely harmful to your DEI planning; keep revising them throughout your organizational journey.

4. Identify needs/ concerns

Analyzing the collected data is the next crucial step to imposing appropriate solutions. For instance, depending on the demographic’s information and proportions in each category, you might find there is no diversity in sexual orientation in the communities being served. How do you build trust and relationships with diverse community members? Getting to the root of the divide and establishing a sense of inclusivity is essential to improving engagement.

5. Develop a plan

Create an action plan (short-term) and a strategic plan (long-term) for organizational structure, policies, systems, and support for ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts. For example, establish diversity and inclusion working groups, recruitment policies, affinity/resource groups, and conduct analysis and skill-based staff training in DEI. There are more examples of actionable steps you can take on pages 4 & 5.

This will never be a one-size-fits-all situation, each organization and community are diverse and unique. DEI plans differ depending on situation, location, ability, and capacity of the organization. From your demographic pictures to the type of outreach that will work in your community, every plan will be different. Therefore, a flexible and individualized strategy based on the type of outreach and communities being served is a great idea. Set goals that are achievable and measurable. Objectives in your DEI strategic planning should relate to your employees, your patrons, and your community at large.

First, an employee-related goal could be to expand your recruitment to a more demographically diverse talent pool. Second, think about your patrons, are you serving the entire community? Are there groups you would like to connect more with? Identify these missed opportunities and include those in your plan. Work on ideas for expanding projects and programs in your community through new or existing partnerships and outreach.

6. Implement the plan

This step is where you go over the DEI plan, answer questions, and get feedback and support from your employees and board members. It is important to listen to their perspectives and embrace all differences. Ask for commitment to at least one action step of the plan from each team member, ownership in accomplishing the goals set forth will build buy in and affirm that this is a group process.

It is optional but highly recommended to have an inclusion committee to ensure the DEI plan runs smoothly within the organization, and everyone’s voice is heard by the organization. This committee could produce training and carry on conversations with employees and more depending on the goals set by your organization.  In smaller organizations this may be the executive committee, to demonstrate the importance of the subject.

Each goal in your plan should have an action, people in-charge, and expected outcome clearly defined. Try to think of a specific action and the expected outcome and consider how you will bring that action to life and how you might measure that outcome through data collection. You might want to break the action down to step-by-step instructions. This does not just help your employees know what you expect from them, but you can follow the plan better or make changes when needed. See example DEI plans on our website.

7. Measure the results and adjust

After taking the action steps needed to reach your goal, check in on your results by collecting new data. Set an expected outcome and plan for tracking data for your organization early so you can easily track them along the way. It is necessary to have a regular report from your employees and new surveys from patrons and community members about their activities and demographic information, as well as their satisfaction with the initiatives you have made.

Outcomes such as an increase in diverse audience members attending their events and positive social reaction should be carefully captured. Compare the results to your expected outcome with your new data and promptly make any necessary interventions.  Surveying attendees can be a great way to gather this information.

DEI plans are not static but rather an on-going process that aims at meeting the community’s needs. Organizational culture and community environment need to be nurtured over time with the contribution from all community members. Keep this DE&I conversation going as a part of the organization’s development, and you will see the positive results in both the working environment and the company’s income along the way.

Examples of Actionable Steps to take in a DEI Plan

  • Ongoing Training
    • Provide diversity, inclusion, and equity-based training for all staff, volunteers, guest artists, and board members on a regular basis.
    • Provide facilitator training to a cross-section of members in the organization to support internal capacity-building.
  • Recruitment and Hiring
    • Create a strategy and targeted recruitment of people of color, women, and other underrepresented groups within your organization.
    • Review job descriptions for implicit bias – have a clear rationale for qualification, experience levels, and terminal degrees that are required.
    • Ensure that diversity in race, sex, age, etc., is present on hiring teams/committees while being aware of tokenism
    • Create an onboarding plan and retention/support strategies for underrepresented hires.
  • Sponsorship/Mentoring
    • Actively support leadership of color within the organization.
    • Create mentoring or sponsoring programs to support training opportunities for underrepresented staff.
    • Create a Board committee to support, prioritize and address DEI efforts.
  • Active Planning
    • Create a short-term DEI action plan with realistic timeframes.
    • Create a long-term DEI strategic plan with realistic timeframes.
  • Assess Organizational Culture
    • Conduct an organizational assessment (formal or informal) to better understand baseline attitudes and perceptions within the organization.
    • Conduct an accessibility assessment.
    • Conduct demographic and attitudinal surveys patrons, annually.
    • Conduct a compensation study.
  • Change Organizational Systems and Structures
    • Create a workgroup/oversight committee with decision-making power that supports ongoing goals and action planning in the area of inclusion and equity.
    • Create a leadership team structure where over 50% of the team members are people of color.
    • Create an executive staff position to provide oversight on DEI issues.
    • Create “Affinity Groups” and “Learning Spaces” for underrepresented staff to receive support and increase their capacity.
    • Create a budget for affinity groups to meet and convene on an ongoing basis
    • Provide all-gender accessible restrooms throughout the organization.
    • Ensure that all buildings are fully accessible.
    • Provide clean, safe areas for nursing.
    • Review policies and procedures for implicit bias and discrimination based on (but not limited to) class, disability, sex, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status.
  • Accountability Measures
    • Create accountability measures and periodic reviews to assess growing competency and opportunities for growth of senior-level staff in this area.
    • Create and support a robust feedback loop where staff and board members can bring concerns to departmental and organizational leaders.
    • Create a power analysis to review key decisions, dynamics, concerns, events, and conflicts through an equity lens.

For questions about specific outreach, services, and resources, contact our NAC staff via email at nac.grants@nebraska.gov or over the phone at 402-595-3940.