Steps to Build a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan for Your Community

By Debra Warren
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To be effective in community association management today, a company must be as diverse and inclusive as the homeowners and communities it serves. In short, your workforce and corporate policies— both internal and external—must respect all points of view. For that reason, a dedicated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program is essential for many community management firms. This starts with a basic understanding of the key terms that make up the program:

❚ Diversity: Everyone has a seat at the table.

❚ Equity: Everyone has freedom from bias or favoritism.

❚ Inclusion: Everyone gets to contribute.

When approaching DEI programs, there are two types of audiences: those who will directly benefit because they are vulnerable to discrimination and bias-based hiring decisions, management, or corporate culture; and those who have the power to ensure that employees of diverse backgrounds are treated fairly at all levels of leadership and decision-making and compensated fairly.

According to research published by Forbes magazine, companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns than their respective nondiverse counterparts. One reason is retention. When someone feels excluded based on who they are, it is deeply demoralizing. It breeds resentment and apathy, leaving them with two choices:

  1. Accept the existing conditions and continue to perform the job, probably less productively than if they felt appreciated and included. Leave in search of a company that values them, shows a clear path for growth, and demonstrates its commitment to DEI through its actions. Not only do you risk the “brain drain” of qualified talent in an already tight labor market, but the financial impact can be equally prohibitive.
  2. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, the average cost to hire an employee is just over $4,000. This number grows exponentially as the skill level of the position increases.

To implement a DEI program successfully, your company may choose to engage an outside consultant to help identify and develop viable processes. They also can gather data and analytics to plan a scalable DEI strategy.

This provides solid direction to bolster engagement and create measurable goals. Other actions can include the development of internal employee resource groups designed to:

❚ Educate, celebrate, and raise cultural competence about different identities to build community and a sense of belonging.

❚ Recognize and encourage the pursuit of professional growth opportunities and offer peer-to-peer advice on navigating paths forward.

❚ Demonstrate commitment to uplifting local communities.

One example of a resource group is the formation of a women’s network that provides workshops for achieving work-life balance or brings in a guest psychologist to talk about healthy relationships. The goal is to help employees by sharing tips about how to make themselves heard, increase their value to the company, and speak up about career goals and direction. In particular, these resource groups are useful for increasing diversity in leadership development programs.


When planning leadership development programs, you will want to consider DEI in two ways. First, are you creating programs that are open to all? And second, are you providing content that supports the development of inclusive leadership skills? To assure that leadership programs have the resources to be successful, the initiative requires support from the CEO and other executives.

The development of a leadership competency model will help you identify behaviors essential to DEI efforts. With the proper data in hand, you will be able to implement inclusive leadership development programs corporation- wide. You will also be able to increase the skills of everyone who has the initiative and desire to advance their career.


Visibility is a key element of promoting DEI. Using feedback obtained from employees, create corporate programs that maximize visibility and understanding. For example, if you have a major-building and shaping our society. Paying tribute to the past motivates new and current generations of achievers.

The power of story is important. It helps us understand one another’s journey, the events and experiences that have shaped us, and influences how we see the world. Having a grasp of the different perspectives those experiences provide lets us better communicate with each other and harness the full power and talent of our teams.


To ensure that you build a successful DEI program, commit to a process of continuous improvement. For many, that starts by launching employee-wide training on inclusivity to ensure an understanding of your team’s diverse backgrounds, challenges, and gifts. Maintain momentum by incorporating these elements into your leadership development programs. explores questions and comments from community association members living in condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. We then assemble trusted experts to provide practical solutions to your most commonly asked, timely questions. We never use real names, but we always tackle real issues. Have a question or comment about your community association? Submit here for consideration:

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Debra Warren

Debra Warren is vice president of education with Associa, where Andrew Fortin serves as senior vice president of external affairs and Armando Payton is a high-rise community manager in the Miami area.