DEI Resources

Focused DEI Resources for Small Businesses

The success of small business is the overall mission of the Small Business Association of Michigan. Fostering entrepreneurship and growth of small business is paramount to thriving communities across our state.

To enhance your ability to run a successful small business, SBAM has put together a variety of resources regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Our goal is to give you the necessary tools to be compliant, and foster healthy work environments.


There are several laws that apply to employment in Michigan to which small business owners must adhere.

Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in Michigan on the basis of “religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, sexual orientation, familial status, or marital status” in employment, housing, education, and access to public accommodations. Here’s what small business owners need to know.

Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. Covered employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

Be sure you have your employee handbooks updated accordingly.

Crown Act/Hair Discrimination

CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.  Efforts to pass the CROWN Act at the state and federal level are pending.  If passed in Michigan, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act would be amended to add to the definition of “race,” hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks and twists.

However, Ingham and Genesee counties and the City of Ann Arbor have approved ordinances to make race-based hairstyle discrimination illegal.


Hair Discrimination

A recent U.S. Federal 11th Circuit case upended the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance as to disability and accommodations.  Under the guidance, an employee merely has a functional rather than a medical definition of disability, and the determination of whether an individual has a disability doesn’t necessarily hinge on the name or diagnosis of an impairment. Once an employer is on notice, they must engage in an interactive discussion concerning any accommodations.  Eventually it is the employer’s decision as to what the accommodation is.

New Approach to ADA Accommodations

Ageism is alive and well and running rampant. In a recent survey by the AARP, nearly 80% of older employees say they’ve seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

With a youth obsessed society, as employees age, they may be ignored or marginalized, thinking that they don’t have the skills that younger workers have.  These workers also wouldn’t likely be included in succession planning simply because the talent tree focuses on younger workers over a longer period of time.  This situation is fairly common, especially in the IT sector.

Avoid Ageism

Conscious Inclusion

Inclusion begins with recognition that we are all from diverse backgrounds. This includes how and when we celebrate holidays. In order to be inclusive, it’s time to think beyond the Christian holiday schedule.

Words matter. Curious about certain terminology – and whether or not using certain words or phrases is appropriate?  Use these guides to choose authentic, inclusive language.


Workforce Solutions for Individuals with Disabilities

Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) is a statewide network of vocational rehabilitation (VR) professionals developing creative, customized solutions that meet the needs of individuals and business.

Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) partners with businesses in many ways to:

  • Recruit, maintain, and retrain qualified individuals to save time and money.
  • Assist to engage in the interactive process to provide reasonable accommodations for employees to disabilities.
  • Create a truly inclusive workplace culture.
MRS Resources

Member Resources

Ask An Expert

SBAM’s Premium, VIP and Elite members have access to our complimentary Ask An Expert service. Our HR and legal partners are on call to help you navigate the ins and outs of both simple and complex matters.

It’s easy to directly ask a question to an ASE representative through SBAM’s “Ask a Question” web portal. A fact-based answer will be provided to you – completely free of charge.

Ask An Expert
Employee Handbook Creation

An employee handbook not only introduces your company and its employment and business philosophy to your employees, but is also an effective communication tool that provides information on company policies, procedures, and compensation programs.

An SBAM Premium, VIP or Elite member can receive a discount from the American Society of Employers (ASE) on the cost to review or update an existing document, or developing a complete, customized employee handbook.

Employee Handbooks

According to the CDC, there are about 1 in 4 people in the U.S. or 61 million Americans that have some kind of physical or mental disability.

Hiring individuals with disabilities and responding to their needs creates an environment of trust, productivity, and retention. The 7th Annual MI Hidden Talent Workshop, coming up on March 21, 2023, helps employers navigate the ins and outs of hiring people with disabilities.

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