Diversity, equity and inclusion are interconnected but not interchangeable concepts that respect the unique needs, life experiences and perspectives of people. Organizations are increasingly expected to apply these principles throughout the development of all their activities.
While many companies have been focusing more on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace over the last few years, there is still significant room for improvement. Greater diversity increases employee engagement and productivity. It also improves problem-solving, as different perspectives tend to approach business challenges in their own unique new ways.
What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)?
Diversity refers to traits or characteristics that make people unique, such as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or socioeconomic class. It can also refer to other differences, such as in physical ability, veteran status, whether or not you have kids etc. Equity is the process of ensuring that practices and programs are fair, and impartial, and provide equal access to opportunities for everyone. Inclusion means ensuring that every employee feels welcome, valued, comfortable and supported by their organization in being their authentic selves.
Combining these three elements, DEI as a concept values diverse voices and emphasizes inclusivity and employee well-being as central to the long-term success of your organization.
Why is DEI important in the workplace?
In addition to making employees feel valued and appreciated at work, DEI has many benefits that give organizations a business advantage:
- Higher revenue growth
A 2019 report shows that companies in which women occupied 10% or more seats on the board outperformed those with fewer than 10% or no women at all. Companies in which there were 20% or more women in management increased their share prices more than those with 15% or fewer women.
- Better recruitment and employee retention
Organizations that develop strong HR policies around diversity, equity and inclusion are able to attract more diverse and younger talent. 86% of millennials believe that differences of opinion improve team performance, while 83% say they are more engaged when their organization fosters an inclusive culture. In a 2020 Glassdoor DEI workplace survey, 76% of job seekers and employees said they considered a diverse workforce an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.
- Higher resilience to crises
Organizations with diverse groups and inclusive leaders are better at solving complex problems in the workplace. Companies with inclusive cultures use different skills across teams to mitigate risks and also identify new business opportunities.
6 ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace
Creating an inclusive workplace is thus not only the moral thing to do, but it is also good for your organization’s long-term business success. Roughly 60% of companies have DEI initiatives in place. However, many of them do not invest enough resources to ensure they are impactful.
Here are six ways in which you can ensure a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace:
- Nurture diversity champions
Leadership should embody and prioritize DEI principles at your organization. Diversity Champions role model inclusion and take responsibility for key inclusion and diversity objectives across the organization. Diversity champions formally or informally support, develop and drive inclusion within your organization. Diversity champions help identify areas in which your organization can improve its efforts to be more inclusive.
- Counter unconscious bias
Unconscious bias means feelings of bias that may be hidden underneath the surface and may be different from our conscious or declared beliefs. While it is important for employees to recognize their unconscious bias, it is even more important for leaders to do this, because they are more involved in hiring decisions. A good way to counter unconscious bias is by keeping a thought journal to record instances of stereotyping when you notice them. This will help employees become more aware of when they may be stereotyping individuals.
- Close gender and racial pay gaps
You should identify the employees that are underpaid compared to those with similar roles or responsibilities, and close any racial or gender-based pay gaps that exist. Identify patterns or trends where certain groups like women or people of color are being underpaid compared to their (typically) caucasian or male colleagues, and take corrective action.
- Encourage employee resource groups (ERGs)
ERGs almost always help build a culture of inclusiveness and belonging in the workplace. You should continuously try make it easier for all employees to participate. Create resources or provide guidelines that employees can follow to encourage them to set up a new ERG. Try to get the participation of an executive and/or leadership sponsor. This will improve the ERG’s visibility, encourage employees to participate, and signal an organizational commitment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion practices at the workplace.
- Regularly review company policies
You should form cross-functional, multi-racial, and multi-gender committees to suggest policy changes and review policies. Propose a roadmap to identify policy changes with regard to policies, practices, and structures. One of the core elements of analysis and improvement should be HR policy, such as the way you advertise positions, the way you recruit, anti-bullying and harassment, flexible working policies, parental leave, and equal pay.
- Offer diversity equity and inclusion training
Training courses and workshops that help create a better org culture. Make sure that the training is not mandatory. Continue to collect feedback about how your org is doing in order to continue to grow.
Embedding DEI principles in business practices will play a key role in the resilience and overall success of your organization in the future. If your employees feel welcome and connected to your business, they will be more engaged at work every day, leading to better outcomes for both your organization and its people.
Empower your team to drive your purpose
Work is a major part of our lives. High employee engagement and motivation improve business outcomes and make the workplace a better place for all employees and the communities they belong to.
Volunteering is one of the best ways of improving employee engagement, and is also good for communities. It helps you build stronger community relations and can even empower your employees to drive your brand’s purpose. However, even though it is essential, managing an employee volunteering program can be time-consuming and inefficient.
Using a CSR management platform like Optimy makes employee volunteering management easy for employers and employees alike. Contact us to request a demo and learn how you can amplify your social and business impact with Optimy!