People often talk about the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in business, but they don’t always understand how to make meaningful progress in this area. Sometimes, management does not know where to begin, so they do not begin at all. If you and your colleagues want to transform your organizational culture, you need to understand the DEI terms and set concrete goals for progress.
What Do Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Mean?
You may wonder, “Why can’t we all just get along?” The answer to that question is long and complex, but you do not have to understand the world’s history to make progress at your company. Simply understanding the following terms will help.
- Diversity – The presence of differences among your employees, including psychological, physical, and social ones. To have a diverse workplace, you need to have a variety of social and cultural characteristics present.
- Equity – This term means everyone is given the same treatment and opportunities. Some groups do not achieve equity because of conscious or unconscious bias.
- Inclusion – Inclusion means everyone feels welcome in the larger group. Acceptance is key to inclusion.
These are separate constructs, but they work together to create a fair, productive, and even happy workplace when made a priority in organizational development.
What Is the Combined Power of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?
Realistically, you can have a diverse workplace without inclusion. That means your employees can be of different races, nationalities, genders, physical ability, etc., but your corporation still treats some employees as “less than.” For instance, you can have a diverse staff but the majority of your workforce excludes some individuals or subgroups. These excluded groups do not feel welcomed or appreciated.
You can have diversity without equity as well. If you pay your female employees less than the male employees, then your corporation is inequitable. If you promote some racial groups less often than others, your workplace lacks equity.
However, when all three elements are present in your company, you will notice fewer conflicts, more cooperation, and better staff morale. When employees are accepted and even rewarded for being themselves, they give more to the company, secure in the knowledge that management and their peers will appreciate and reward their work.
As Saleema Vellani, Chief Innovation Strategist of Innovazing said, “Empathy is the engine of innovation.” When you have empathy, you are able to learn from others with very different backgrounds, which improves creativity. Diversity enhances innovation and innovation solidifies diversity and inclusion.
What Are the Goals of a More Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Workplace?
Achieving DEI means setting attainable goals and continuing to work toward those goals. In short, set the goals and then take concrete action to effect positive workforce development. Too often, this conversation gets lost in abstractions. Your goals for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace should:
- Identify Opportunities – Your company’s management has to take stock of where you are and where you need to go. That may mean some uncomfortable introspection and a truthful look at current policies, values, and culture. Once you know where you are, you can list specific actions to achieve change.
- Emphasize Equity – All three aspects of DEI are essential, but without equity, can the other two areas exist? Determine what fair opportunity is for different groups and work to identify barriers to it in your company.
- Unleash Diversity – You can have a diverse workforce and never unleash the power of that diversity. You need to encourage different perspectives and challenge assumptions. An empowered and diverse workplace will value all perspectives.
- Become Inclusive – As a leader, you need to be inclusive in your thinking and your behavior. If you do not set the expectation, you cannot expect your employees to embrace the concept.
What Does a More Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Workplace Look Like?
Can you tell if a workplace is DEI just by looking? Well, you can certainly tell if it’s diverse, although not all cultural and social differences are visually apparent. You can still see if women and different races are represented in your workforce. Are there differently abled people present? You can also judge inclusion to some degree if you are present at a management meeting and distinct groups have representation. Equity is tougher to judge without taking a deep dive into the paperwork. Your workplace equity proof lies in yearly salary, management opportunities, and actual promotions.
How Does Creating a DEI Organization Improve the Performance of My Team and Affect the Organization?
You may worry that transforming your company into a DEI culture may negatively affect production and the bottom line. Studies show that this fear is simply not warranted. In fact, DEI can bring the following benefits:
- Improved Financial Performance – Ethnically diverse companies outproduce national industry medians.
- Enhanced Recruitment Ability – Excellent prospects want to work for diverse companies. Make DEI part of your talent strategy.
- Improved Employee Engagement – Employees, especially millennials, are more engaged when they believe in their company’s DEI efforts.
- Growth – Diverse companies are much more likely to capture new markets and increase market share.
Doing the right thing is better for employees and your company, not just ethically but financially as well.
It is not enough to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace. You need to embrace action over abstractions. Set specific goals and identify several concrete steps you can take now to transform your corporate culture. Your company will become a better DEI workplace step by step as long as you make it a priority.
For help with talent strategy and staffing needs, contact Dover Staffing Solutions, a full-service staffing firm that cares about business integrity and professional customer service. We work with corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. For more information, contact us today by filling out our brief online form or calling 770-434-3040.
Image credits: Photo on Freepik.