What is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)?
The letters DEI stand for diversity, equity, and inclusion. It encompasses a mindset and series of actions intended to drive reform and transformation globally across every type of organization or institution imaginable. In practical terms, it embodies a set of policies created to make people feel valued, welcome, and supported. And it allows everyone to perform to their fullest potential, as one should in a just and free society, no matter their background, ethnicity or ability.
DEI is a driving force in the world today. The most innovative, supportive, progressive companies are implementing DEI initiatives. Here’s some more about what is and why your company should embrace it now.
What is diversity?
Diversity is the range of variety and differences that exist between every person in the world. These differences cover numerous characteristics, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, gender identification, religion, language, marital status, veteran status, parental status, mental or physical ability, and more.
What does diversity mean in the context of the workplace?
Diversity in the workplace means you have an executive, managers, teams, and workers drawn from every imaginable area of society. You will be part of a vibrant, energetic, creative, innovative company with a high employee retention, engagement, and satisfaction rate.
What is the importance of promoting diversity in the workplace?
Promoting diversity in the workplace will enable a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent. A company focused on diversity will have a superior opportunity to find the best possible workers. Different perspectives and experiences within a diverse team also lead to faster, better decision-making and problem-solving. Employees within a diverse work culture will benefit from higher morale and motivation, leading to increased productivity and a healthy bottom line.
Ways to promote diversity in the workplace
The appointment of a diversity officer who in turn selects a diversity promotion team is one of the ways to increase diversity in the workplace. Other methods include educating managers on diversity and adjusting workplace policy to embrace diversity. It’s also important to communicate clearly about diversity and be aware of language, cultural, and other barriers. In addition, make every effort to provide opportunities for meaningful engagement throughout the organization.
What is equity?
Equity is the process of ensuring impartiality, fairness, and the chance of equal outcomes for every individual, based on their specific needs. Equity is less about equality and more about leveling up a disproportionate society and distributing resources to those who have received less or been disadvantaged.
What does equity mean in the context of the workspace?
In the workplace, equity indicates an equal opportunity to be recruited, selected and given the opportunity to contribute, develop and progress. Barriers that previously existed, like racism, sexism and other biases, have been removed to promote an open, trusting work environment and company culture, leading to an enhanced employee experience.
What is the importance of promoting equity in the workplace?
Where there is equity in the workplace, every individual has access to the same opportunities and no participant is excluded. This makes comprehensive use of the wide talent pool existing in an organization where equity is a priority, and leads to greater motivation in the workforce, higher productivity and healthy revenue.
Ways to promote equity in the workplace
Offer mentorship programs to encourage personal and career development, and set up Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to foster networking and inclusion, particularly among individuals whoare in minority groups.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion is a person’s sense of belonging and feeling supported. It is the concept of being able to be one’s complete authentic self and being respected, valued and welcomed whatever the circumstances.
What does inclusion mean in the context of the workspace?
Inclusion fosters the acceptance of diverse characteristics of co-workers paving the way for creative and innovative interaction in pursuit of company goals.
What is the importance of promoting inclusion in the workplace?
In an equal-opportunity workplace where people feel safe, happy and welcomed, employees will be highly engaged and more productive. This will reflect well on the company and brand reputation and positively influence the bottom line.
Ways to promote inclusion in the workplace
An employee-led team to foster inclusion is one way to embed inclusion within the company culture. Also, be sure to provide a safe space for employees, where they can freely communicate and offer feedback. Provide training and support always using inclusive language, and ensure the company calendar includes events across all interests and circumstances.
Why DEI is important
DEI has a positive impact in many areas. It creates an environment where all are welcome and supported, and where all people have the resources to flourish regardless of their origins, identity, or differing backgrounds. DEI paves the way to a fair society, bringing people together within a stronger, more vibrant culture. This promotes a safer, happier, more trusting environment at work and beyond. Here are some of the key points around the importance of DEI:
1. Makes an extensive talent pool available
Most job seekers today will evaluate the DEI initiatives of a company before applying for a job. Gartner tells us that job candidates tend more and more to seek out companies that reflect their own values. Companies focused on DEI are therefore well-positioned to attract and retain star performers and this gives a competitive edge in the marketplace.
2. Drives teams to perform better
Diverse teams tend to be more creative and innovative and perform better than those from a more limited background. Teams benefit from a wider range of experiences, perspectives and different ways of thinking, and produce more and better ideas. Also, decision-making and problem-solving tend to be faster and easier with diverse input.
3. Boosts employee morale
A feeling of inclusion, and belonging, foster a more engaged, collaborative and productive work environment that does wonders for company morale.
4. Retains star performers
Where employees feel included in a diverse, welcoming workspace offering equal opportunities to all workers, they will be happy to stay put. Retention rates will be higher than for companies lagging behind with DEI rollout.
5. Improves employee experience
Employee experience is greatly enhanced in an open-minded workplace where differences are accepted and celebrated, and dialogue across all levels of the organization are encouraged around these issues. This leads to heightened employee engagement and job satisfaction and happiness, and consequently an increase in productivity.
Benefits of DEI with regard to minority groups
By 2044 over half of all Americans will belong to a minority group and by 2065, due to a steady decrease in the white population, there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the USA. It’s important therefore to look to the future where companies and organizations lead the way with robust DEI strategies and initiatives.
Here are some of the benefits and advantages of DEI for current minority groups in the corporate sphere, such as women, black Americans, Asians, Latinas and Latinos, and others:
- DEI initiatives can help drive career opportunities and development from entry to the corporate level by fostering equity in promotions for women and people of color. This will ensure for example that women of color don’t get passed over for a white woman or man of color.
- Effective DEI strategy within an organization will also drive heightened employee security and satisfaction by raising awareness of the barriers minority groups face, and by preventing and managing those barriers.
- A strong DEI policy will hold managers accountable for progress towards goals and the development of a company where all, and specifically minorities, are welcomed, supported and have equal opportunities to thrive.
Check out this resources for more statistics regarding minority groups in the workplace.
How can organizations foster an inclusive workplace
1. Select DEI champions
Appoint a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to develop a transformation team that works together toward attracting and retaining diverse talent. This will enhance company culture and drive a more inclusive work environment.
2. Encourage teamwork
Diverse teams within an organization foster a sense of being a relevant part of the bigger picture, as well as driving better creativity and innovation in pursuit of company goals.
3. Appoint DEI sponsors
Select employees to act as DEI sponsors and drive DEI initiatives. Balance senior and junior workers for a wider pool of knowledge, perspective and expertise. Create opportunities to sponsor minority or marginalized individuals or groups.
4. Define and communicate
Define and communicate expectations throughout all levels of the company and hold management accountable. Communicate regularly and clearly on why DEI matters, how it supports the company mission and brand visibility, and what effects it has on company culture.
5. Integrate DEI strategy
Integrate DEI strategy into the culture of the company and overall business strategy, and involve HR. Make sure there is a clear DEI policy in place.
6. Encourage authenticity
Encourage people to be their real, authentic selves and pay special attention to how they communicate.
7. Speak out for inclusion
Spread the word about inclusion in the workplace to foster support. Share knowledge and achievements and act on feedback.
8. Challenge stereotyping
Stereotyping can be an indication of bias, so challenge it and be proactive in removing this barrier for a freer, non-discriminatory work environment.
9. Offer DEI training
Make sure training is in place for everyone, and from the onboarding process onward. This way, company strategy around DEI is clear through all levels and employees feel part of the process from the start.
10. Monitor and review
Monitor and review the achievement of DEI goals regularly, and track the results of DEI diversity initiatives with regard to things like effective team collaboration, successful recruitment and talent retention rates.
11. Lead by example
Walk the walk, talk the talk, encourage top-down transformation in all DEI initiatives and inspire co-workers to do the same.
DEI best practices
Ensure you are actively targeting diverse talent during the recruiting process. Choose a specialist agency if necessary and make sure your advertisements are correctly focused, and distributed through relevant channels. Prospective candidates will appreciate this purposeful approach and be more inclined to apply.
Make every effort to eliminate bias during the recruiting and onboarding process. Carefully review your job descriptions and take care with language. Remember to communicate your DEI initiatives to job candidates to attract star performers.
Promote inclusive employee onboarding by offering information and training on DEI processes, and connecting new recruits to ERGs or other support systems. This way, anyone belonging to a minority group will feel more secure in a welcoming work environment.
Offer training and support throughout all levels of the organization and keep communications open for feedback across all sources. Underscore the importance of DEI education and implementation, so everyone is on the same page.
Measure and review progress by communicating with employees to discover which areas of the company need attention or active improvement. Set goals with respect to these requirements and monitor progress. Communicate feedback and new action so everyone feels part of a process to which they have contributed.
Offboard any employee diligently so you can gather and analyze feedback on their experience. Encourage openness and honesty and take heed of the negatives and positives. This way you’ll have more ammunition to tackle weak points in the DEI strategy and the employee will depart with a sense of having contributed value.
How can intranets support DEI?
It’s all very well to promote and drive DEI initiatives within an organization, but in a large company where a greater number of people are dispersed, it can be difficult to successfully track DEI triumphs and failures. This is where intranets come into their own. Internal communications play an important role in supporting DEI and these can be greatly facilitated by the introduction and development of an intranet system specific to your company’s requirements. A truly diverse, equitable and inclusive company is one where absolutely everyone is on board with the full range of DEI values and programs.
Intranets can support DEI initiatives in the following way:
Sharing DEI content
A dedicated area for DEI content allows cross-department interchanges which will advance the sense of connection and belonging. Policy and strategy can be included here, so real-time versions of these are always available to anyone who needs to consult these.
Promoting DEI initiatives
A space for the promotion of DEI opportunities and initiatives gives everybody a chance to see what’s available, who’s involved, and what the state of progress is.
Maintaining good communication
As always, quality communication is critical throughout a company and never more so than where DEI is concerned. Avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations by using an intranet to clarify DEI issues, and give and accept feedback.
Highlight DEI in the workplace
An intranet provides an ideal area to shine a light on DEI initiatives at work. Mentorship programs, ERGs, training opportunities, effective teamwork, significant milestones, achievements and promotions are some of the things that can be covered.
It’s all well and good to have DEI measures in place but how do you know they’re working? Monitoring and measuring DEI with the help of intranet surveys allows valuable insight into whether employees feel included and comfortable.
Intranets don’t have to be vehicles for top-down distribution of information only. A modern integrated intranet provides a space for everyone in an organization to communicate and contribute equally, expressing thoughts and feelings, sharing views, and offering feedback. Open dialogue supported by an intranet can promote DEI throughout any organization.
DEI success stories
- Comcast Corporation, multi-national telecommunications conglomerate.
People of color make up 45% of Comcast’s workforce. The company is committed to DEI through a range of initiatives and programs, aiming to provide opportunities for the diverse community it serves.
- Uber Technologies Inc, global mobility and delivery services
Increasing DEI is at the core of Uber’s strategy, including active anti-racism, and improved alignment to the communities they serve.
- Google LLC, multinational technology company
Google makes every effort through DEI initiatives to sustain a workforce representative of everyone it serves, while endeavoring to create a sense of belonging in the workspace for every employee.
The role of HR in implementing DEI strategy and culture
DEI is a top priority in business today. To design and implement an effective, dynamic, up-to-date DEI strategy, it makes sense to approach all members of the HR team for contributions as these are the people with their fingers on the pulse of day-to-day processes. If each member of the team plays an active role in the planning and rollout of a strategy, it will quickly become embedded in the company culture. It’s important to offer HR team members ongoing diversity training and education, and to regularly review current policies and procedures, adapting fast where needed. It is also of value to encourage a clear understanding of the ways in which biases, stereotypes, and microaggressions can influence hiring and termination decisions.
A seminar or workshop on DEI won’t cut it. Modern companies need to provide ongoing training so employees can become enlightened about the benefits of DEI within the workplace. Encourage the selection of an employee-led team to drive DEI initiatives or appoint a diversity officer to spearhead operations. Foster a culture of inclusion so workers feel safe and welcome. Everyone has the right to feel included and accepted in all areas of life, including the workplace.