10 Actions You Can Take to Support EDI

See also: Inclusive Leadership

Most of us today want to see organisations, communities and society that are more equal or equitable, diverse, and inclusive. But what do these terms mean? And what can you do as an individual or organization to start moving in the right direction? In this article we discuss what Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) means, so you can confidently explain them to others.

There are plenty of EDI training workshops available, which often go into deep analysis tailored towards an individual or business’s needs. But we’d like to offer ten simple and free things you can do today that will make a difference.

What is EDI?

Equality & Equity

Equality is all about equal provision of key resources – most often money, time, and opportunity. But if people or communities are unequal in the first place, giving everyone an equal resource may simply maintain the difference. So, equity is all about giving people different resources to compensate for the initial inequality.


Diversity is all about having a range of people with various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds and various lifestyles, experience, and interests. So, in many ways, think of diversity as difference – and of course, we are all different. But the issue isn’t ‘diversity’, it is valuing diversity: being willing and able to accommodate, appreciate and value anyone with differences from you.


Inclusion is essentially creating an outcome which provides a welcome and genuine sense of belonging. And of course, the more diverse any group, community or society is, the more effort and investment may be needed to create inclusion. For inclusion to be successful, the opportunity and resources have to be made available. ‘Inclusion’ should never be forced on anyone, and inclusion should never undermine that individual’s or group’s attachment to their legitimate background and heritage.

10 Things You Can do to Improve EDI

1 - Become more self-aware

Very few of us intend to be prejudiced or bias – but we all are, unconsciously. Here’s a quick test you can take… Think of the following:

  • A nurse
  • A prime minister
  • An engineer
  • An admin assistant

… Did you associate a particular gender with each occupation?

2 - Take the first step

Suppose you don’t have experience of working with someone from that particular culture, ethnicity, or background. So how will you gain that experience? The best way is to take the first step: go to events organised by that community; once there, talk to members of that community; and if you are yourself an event organizer, make sure you take the first step to invite different communities to your gig. 

Traditionally we talk about leadership as if it was attached to titles or senior positions – but taking the first step is often a much more significant example of leadership – and one that is open to all.

3 - Get onto the pitch

Have you ever witnessed behaviour that you found or felt was offensive, unfair, or unhelpful? If you do, and are present in the moment, what do you do? To use a sporting analogy, you can either stay in the stands, as an observer, or you can move onto the pitch, and take a stand against such offensive behaviour. As Edmund Burke famously said: “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

4 - Work out what you are going to say

This follows on from the point above. So often we don’t intervene, because we don’t know how; we don’t know what to say; we aren’t sure of the best approach. So be prepared: consider what situations might occur where you would want to intervene – then work what you want to say or do – and practice it, until you are confident about it. Again, EDI training courses can offer useful skills to help in this situation. One acronym that can help is FAMOUS:

  • Feedback: how can the other person change unless they are made aware of how they are sounding or behaving?

  • Ask: ask for a reason, rather than tell someone they were wrong.

  • Maintain eye contact: if you look away, you will look weak, unsure, or unconfident.  If you believe in yourself and your action, let your eyes show that.

  • Other place and time: you don’t have to deal with the issue in the moment – it may not be appropriate; so consider a later place and time.

  • Unintentional: they may not have meant to create the impression they did; it may be that such behaviour is based on genuine ignorance rather than an intent to be offensive or dismissive. If one day you are unintentionally racist or sexist, how would you like to be treated?

  • Support:the individual, but not the behaviour: you can support and respect the individual, whilst challenging the behaviour.

5 - Address the person, not the disability

Diversity includes neurodiversity and a range of other disabilities – visible or otherwise. Firstly, treat everyone as equal – because they are. Then work with the individual – the individual will work with their disability. If you’re not sure if they need any help or support, then ask.

6 – Always, always, be kind

Not all disabilities are visible; as a result of some differential ability, someone may present themselves in a way which could be challenging, even abrupt or uncomfortable – but there may be good reasons for this, that you don’t know about. So be kind. It costs nothing and could make all the difference.

7 - Watch and learn

Some of our behaviours and language might be unintentionally prejudiced or biased; this may be due to our conditioned upbringing, where such language or behaviour was normal and acceptable; or because we are unaware of the impact our behaviour or language has.  So when working with people from diverse backgrounds and communities, watch for a reaction that could indicate discomfort with what you are saying or how you are behaving – and be brave enough to learn, by asking if something you did or said caused that reaction. 

For example, have you ever given someone from a different cultural background an Anglicised nickname – because it’s easier to say or spell? 

8 – Decide your personal guarantees

Choose between three and five actions that you own, that you can personally guarantee to deliver that help you value and support equality, diversity and inclusion.  These are promises you make to yourself – no one else. They could include ways in which you personally could champion or promote EDI in your home or work life; or what you will do if you see or hear inappropriate behaviour.

9 - Check your inner voice

Sometimes you might wonder, before you say anything: “I wonder if that will sound racist (or sexist, or…)?”. The chances are – it will. It is your inner, unconscious voice looking after you. So if in doubt, leave it out. And never say “I don’t want to sound racist, but” – because you almost certainly will.

10 - Be a positive role model

Much about creating a fairer society, based on valuing diversity and creating genuine inclusion is beyond your control; and you can only influence others; but you are completely responsible for your own behaviour, words, and actions. So, decide what kind of role model you want to be in this area, then deliver it.

“Be the change you want to see in others.” - (Ghandi)

Start Small

Think about standard practices in your company. Level Marketing saw a positive impact from their clients simply by adding pronouns to their email footer. 1 in 3 of their clients followed suit, and saw the impact it had on the business communication, and staff.

Adding pronouns to your email footer

Adding your pronouns to your email signature is a small yet significant step that can help to create a more inclusive environment. By doing so, you are showing that you recognize and respect the fact that not everyone identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. This can also help to avoid assumptions and awkward situations, as it removes the need for someone to ask for your pronouns or assume based on your name or appearance. Encouraging others in your workplace or social circles to do the same can help to create a more inclusive and accepting culture overall.

In conclusion, promoting EDI is not just the right thing to do; it’s also good for business and society. By taking these simple steps, you can make a positive impact and contribute to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive world.

About the Author

Arnie Skelton (MA, MSc) is a Cambridge University graduate, and the founder and CEO of Effective Training & Development Ltd. Over the past 35 years, Arnie has provided professional development for individuals and businesses. He has achieved this through 1-1 coaching, courses, workshops, and ongoing consultancy, helping over 180 clients in the UK and abroad reach their full potential.