DEI has become a business priority for many companies, as it should. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important in order to create a fair and just workplace for everyone. As global crises, social movements, and racial injustice continue, more people are interested in how organizations are approaching DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). People today are looking for businesses that are ethical and socially conscious to invest their time, labor, and money into.
Companies are increasingly realizing that strong policies on diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just a “nice-to-have” but essential for both individual and business success. Prioritizing DEI in HR should not be motivated primarily by business success. People leaders realize how important it is for employees to have a positive experience – and DEI is a factor in every part of the employee lifecycle from recruiting to performance reviews and beyond.
Most organizations have released statements supporting diversity and equality, but this is no longer enough. Individuals are urging organizations to match their actions with their words by making their organization fair and inclusive.
It can be hard to figure out what to do next or how to take action, no matter where you are in your DEI journey. This guide provides an overview of everything you need to know about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), including best practices and resources. It also describes realistic strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and how to evolve your approach over time.
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?
The term “DEI” stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The language surrounding DEI in the HR and business world has changed over time. This idea is variously known as D&I, EDI, I&D, DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging), and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion). The main sentiment of the text is to create a better work experience for people of all identities and backgrounds.
Before we dig into best practices, we’ve defined a few key terms below to help you understand the nuances in the DEI landscape:
- Diversity refers to the range of human differences that make each person unique, including but not limited to: race, gender, and socioeconomic background. When it comes to DEI, diversity refers not to individuals (i.e.., “a diverse person”), but to the composition of teams and organizations (i.e., “a diverse company”).
- Equity is the process of recognizing that advantages and barriers exist that create unequal starting places, and addressing & mitigating that imbalance. It’s a concept that acknowledges that everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities and gives people what they need as individuals.
- Inclusion is the act of making a person part of a group or collective, so each member feels valued and is afforded the same rights and opportunities. In a diverse workplace, differences exist – inclusion takes it a step further to ask how everyone, from team members to end-users, can feel valued and included in policies, processes, physical spaces, products, and more.
- Belonging is the feeling of security and support one gets when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group or place.
DEI encompasses the range of policies, values, practices, and strategy used by companies to foster a work environment where individuals can thrive throughout the employee experience. When done thoughtfully, a DEI strategy actively considers and incorporates all three principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion to craft holistic processes that meaningfully address the inequities faced by underrepresented groups.
Friction to DEI: Addressing unconscious bias
Unconscious bias can have a significant impact on the workplace, so it’s important to be aware of it and take steps to avoid it. It is likely that people and organizations are not deliberately or intentionally supporting practices that are unjust or discriminatory. Because of a long history of systematic injustice, we may all have unconscious biases.
What Should Leaders Know?
What may be seen as an advantage by some people may be seen as a barrier by others. These barriers could range from gender prejudices to racial bias or community favoritisms. It is important to be aware of unconscious biases, to overcome them, and to have a workplace that is based only on ability and talent. Organizations must constantly review processes, systems, and work culture with a close look to eliminate any kind of barriers. A leader’s job is to create equal opportunities in the workplace in every way possible, from the hiring process to exit formalities to promotions or training.
Why diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are central to organizational success?
According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, closing the gender gap could add $28 trillion to the value of the global economy by 2025 – an increase of 26%.
1. DEI affects financial viability
DEI companies that create inclusive environments for their employees are doing well financially. These environments help employees feel a sense of belonging and increase empathy among teams.
Credit Suisse’s CS Gender 3000 report provides a detailed look at the gender diversity among 30,000 senior executives at over 3,000 companies around the world. The 2019 report showed that companies with women on their board outperformed those without any women.
Companies with a higher proportion of women in management tend to outperform those with a lower proportion.
2. Welcoming skills and talent
Organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion in their HR policies are more likely to attract talent. Glassdoor’s Diversity and Inclusion Workplace Survey found that 76% of job seekers and employees believe that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering companies and job offers. Diversity and inclusion are important to Glassdoor, so they added a new workplace factor rating for companies in 2020. Salesforce has the highest diversity and inclusion rating at 4.6, with Google and Accenture not too far behind.
3. Millennial workforce
Organizations need to have strong DEI in the workplace in order to tap into the millennial workforce, which makes up almost 75% of the workforce. Millennials have a different view of DEI. The majority of millennials feel thatteamscan excel when there are differences of opinion. The vast majority of millennials are more likely to be engaged at work when they feel that their workplace culture is inclusive. Leaders of Millennial workers are expected to create workplaces that are supportive and respectful of their workers’ opinions and identities.
4. Balanced teams thrive in crises
Covid-19 changed the way teams function worldwide. Remote working gives leaders the opportunity to see how their teams work and live. Organizations that created diverse groups found that this diversity in the workforce enabled them to solve complex problems. Inclusive leaders were also important in this process. Inclusive cultures in companies allow for a better utilization of skills across teams in order to both mitigate risks and identify new business opportunities.
What can you do to adopt diversity equity and inclusion in the workplace?
In order to improve your life, you need to start by asking yourself the right questions and taking a good, hard look at yourself. What are the unconscious biases we need to unpack? Where can the organization start with its DEI efforts? Can the organization create employee resource groups (ERGs) to help create more inclusive language within each department?
Secondly, analyze the human resources data. What have been the hiring practices? Do the job posting’s language and tone make it inviting for diverse communities? What demographics is the talent acquisition team working within? Do we have a balanced mix of women and men in leadership positions?
Additionally, DEI programs should be tailored to departments, demographics, and regions. Not every team faces the same challenges. If leaders are curious about employee experiences and can empathize with them, they will be able to create initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace that are tailored to each individual while still being applicable to everyone.
And finally, don’t just hire someone because they are diverse – try to fit the employee into the organizational culture. In order to create a more diverse workplace, it is important to recruit employees from a variety of backgrounds who can contribute to the culture.
Judith Williams, Global Head of People Sustainability & Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at SAP shares, “In tech, we often hire for culture fit. Instead, we should hire for cultural contribution. When looking to hire someone new, consider what this person can bring to your team that you do not already have. This includes skills, background, and perspectives.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices
There are many ways to improve DEI, so it can be hard to identify the best place to start. There are several ways you can improve your DEI strategy without spending much, or any, money. In this section, we’ll share a few key steps to help you identify the best opportunities to make an impact.
Listen to your employees to understand your baseline
Workplace diversity surveys help you understand your current situation, identify problems and potential solutions, and track your progress over time. It’s important to be aware of a few things before you start conducting DEI surveys.
First, don’t assume you know what the problems are. solicit feedback from your employees instead to show that you care about what is important to them. Employees will be willing to share their opinions with you as long as you show that you care about what they have to say and are willing to take action based on their feedback.
When making your survey, also take into account what information is already accessible, so you won’t have to request that employees reiterate it. The majority of companies utilize some form of HRIS that contains insightful demographic data such as geographic region or gender. While collecting data, be sure to keep intersectionality in mind.
Finally, ask qualitative questions beyond demographic data. Make it possible for employees to anonymously and candidly share their thoughts on current DEI programs and what could be done to make them better. The data and responses collected will help to inform what should be prioritized, what actions should be taken, and what should be considered successful measures for your DEI strategy.
Establish metrics of success
After you have gathered all the data, you will need to compare yourself to others in the same industry to see where you rank. Additionally, you will want to see if you are meeting all the goals you have set for yourself internally.
If you’re looking to see how your company stands in comparison to others in your industry, you can use industry benchmarks as a reference point. However, it’s important not to get too caught up on trying to meet the benchmark exactly. The purpose of benchmarks is to provide a way to measure the progress of your strategy, not to create goals that are unrelated to your strategy and may cause you to lose focus. Diversity and inclusion outcomes should be based on your organization’s strategy and what matters most to your employees.
After you understand your current situation, you can begin setting goals and measuring your progress. You should continue to do annual and periodic pulse surveys to track any trends or improvements over time.
Share survey results with employees
A crucial element of your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative is developing trust with your employees. After surveying your team, you should not just look at the results and start pushing out programs without context. It is important to share the survey results with the whole team, emphasizing both the negative aspects that need to be improved and the positive aspects that show progress. There is no shame in admitting that there is still work to be done. Building trust and shared responsibility will create a stronger partnership.
After everyone has seen the results of the company, they are invited to help choose and work on the next steps that need to be taken. It is important to allow team members to have a say in how diversity, equity, and inclusion will be handled at the company in the future. This can be done through focus groups or follow-up conversations with individuals.
Make sure to follow up after implementing new initiatives in response to survey results and ask for feedback to see if the initiatives are having their desired effect.
The world is complex, dynamic, and diverse, and we seem to be getting more interconnected. However, our communities have become more polarized or segmented. ” Since it is a standard HR policy to state that they are an equal opportunity employer, this makes it a standard. We believe that a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture are crucial for enterprises to succeed.
Building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace requires taking into account the needs of the most marginalized members.
Your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy affects every part of the employee experience. It requires thoughtful questions, planning, and action. The benefits of the organization’s efforts can be seen in both employee satisfaction and the organization’s success. If companies put in the effort to create a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, they will reap the benefits of improved talent acquisition, productivity, engagement, and retention.
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