Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Primer

by: diversio

The world is smaller than ever, and as a result of that, organizations of all kinds and sizes are increasingly diverse places, creating new focuses on practices that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). So important is DEI to companies’ overall health that many have created standalone roles such as chief diversity officer, while others have begun incorporating DEI work into existing human resources positions.

But what exactly is DEI? After all, all three words that make up the term sound pretty similar. Let’s break it down:

  • “Diversity” refers to differences between people in a setting. Dr. Robert Sellers summed it up like this: “Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party.”
  • “Equity” speaks to systems that are fair and impartial, taking into account differences between different groups of people to help ensure equal outcomes. Meanwhile, “equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance,” Sellers noted.
  • “Inclusion” is about ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging. Using the party analogy, “inclusion means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist,” Sellers said.

Taken together, the point of DEI is to make sure that not only is your workforce diverse, but also that the individuals at your company all have equal opportunities to advance and contribute.

Why Do Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter?

We live in an increasingly diverse world, so it’s only natural that workplace diversity would also be on the rise. Fortunately for companies, a diverse workforce has many benefits including:

  • Improved company reputation. Diversity is important to consumers. People want to see themselves represented in the companies with which they do business. It helps them to feel understood and appreciated, and that leads to consumer goodwill and a positive company image.
  • Access to a wider range of talent. The more diverse your workforce, the more pools you have from which to pull talented applicants. Let’s face it, across every industry, competition between companies can be fierce. And given that its people are a company’s greatest asset, the company that permits itself to pull from the most diverse pool of talent is likely to get ahead.
  • Increased productivity. Diversity brings different viewpoints — and ways of doing things. You’re more likely to improve your processes if you have varying points of view.
  • More innovation. Innovation doesn’t come from an echo chamber. Yet, the more homogenous your workforce, the more prone it is to groupthink. On the other hand, when you have people from varying backgrounds with different perspectives focusing on solving the same problems, you’re likely to end up with some creative approaches.
  • Better employee performance. A diverse workforce ensures that everyone feels they belong and have an equal opportunity. And that encourages everyone to work harder and put in their best effort because they feel like they are truly part of a team, not unwelcome outsiders.

But what does this all look like in practice? From a research standpoint, companies with more than 30% women executives are more likely to outperform their competitors with fewer women executives. Or how about this? According to Harvard Business Review, diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets than their less-diverse competitors.

Diversity has numerous benefits for companies. But flip that another way: If your team lacks diversity, it means you’re at a significant disadvantage compared to your competition!

Who Should Handle Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity?

Changing a company culture to better reflect diversity and inclusion is more than a one-person job and more than just a human resources initiative. For larger companies, it may be beneficial to establish a DEI team to research needs and develop new policies and procedures. At the helm of this team might be someone with a title like “chief diversity officer,” who may set the DEI strategy and oversee all related initiatives. Other times, DEI work gets tacked on to other existing roles, including those in human resources and business administration/analysis. For smaller companies, DEI initiatives may fall on the shoulders of a single person.

But the reality is that whether there is one HR personnel handling DEI on their own or a robust team led by a chief diversity officer, a focus on DEI should come from the very top. Employees should never feel like DEI initiatives are simply HR-led ways to avoid accusations of bias or discrimination, or to simply pay lip service to calls from employees who come from diverse backgrounds. A focus on DEI from the leadership team not only empowers staff whose role it is to implement DEI strategies; it also sends a clear message to employees at every level that the organization cares about them, and that’s a message that can have a profoundly positive impact on a company’s bottom line.

How Can I Ensure Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

The goal of DEI is to make sure you hire a diverse workforce and give everyone equal opportunities for contribution and advancement. Some ways to foster DEI include:

  • Aligning DEI training to an overall strategy. Don’t make your DEI efforts standalone projects, but rather make them an essential part of your ongoing employee training strategy.
  • Getting organizational buy-in for DEI efforts. Initiatives only succeed when everyone is on board. Get those at the top to voice their support for DEI, and recruit employees at every level who care about DEI to help implement your initiatives.
  • Explain both the “why” and “what” during DEI training. This helps with buy-in across organizations. People are more likely to apply their training if they know how and why it will help them.
  • Encourage employees to be proactive regarding DEI. Getting your employees to feel comfortable stepping in and actively encouraging DEI among their peers is a huge factor in the overall success of such efforts.
  • Monitor the results of your DEI strategy. It’s important to collect data to ensure your DEI efforts are successful. If they aren’t, data will tell you where the weak points are so you can adjust your focus.

How Can Diversio Help?

DEI work is not a quick or easy job, but you don’t have to do it alone. Diversio can help. Our mission is to help organizations become more diverse and provide the right kinds of support to their diverse employee base.

It begins with a quick, completely private survey based on our six, well-researched key performance indicators. Our AI-powered software uses cutting-edge natural language processing to analyze respondents’ answers to deliver valuable DEI metrics about your organization. Our solutions engine uses that aggregate data to recommend tried-and-proven solutions for improving DEI. The result is less time spent developing and administering surveys, encouraging employee participation, analyzing data in light of your key performance indicators, and researching the right solutions to your DEI challenges.

Ready to help make your company a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace? Book a demo with Diversio today to find out how we can help.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Primer