An organization may be diverse but not inclusive if its employees do not feel their ideas are valued and taken seriously, often as a result of how DEI initiatives are implemented within an organization.
DEI encompasses three concepts: diversity, equity and inclusion. Though these terms may be distinct, they all work in concert to achieve its aims.
Diversity refers to all of the differences among people, such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, socioeconomic status and educational background. Diversity encompasses also an individual’s values beliefs and experiences that make up who they are as an individual.
Inclusion refers to creating environments in which all people, no matter their differences, feel welcomed, valued and supported by colleagues and workplace. It involves creating environments that recognize and honor everyone’s unique perspectives and talents – as well as dismantling barriers which prevent people from fully participating in workplace processes and activities.
An inclusive workplace allows all employees to feel safe expressing themselves fully at work, which is key for their professional and personal lives. Achieved through creating an atmosphere in which everyone feels free to express their thoughts and ideas with colleagues regardless of cultural or demographic background; also being aware of how your actions and words impact people negatively while looking at ways of changing these to become more inclusive.
Establishing an environment of true diversity and inclusion can be difficult. It requires a significant shift in how an organization perceives itself and its people. Recognizing and dismantling any implicit biases that lead to discrimination as well as changing narratives that suggest different equals inferior can be challenging – particularly within an established culture that has existed for years.
Although most employees endorse diversity, it takes considerable work and dedication to create an inclusive work environment where individuals from different backgrounds feel welcome and supported at their workplace. Therefore, it is crucial that we identify root causes of inequality and take measures towards eliminating them.
Understanding inequality’s origins is also critical because it helps us recognize and challenge unconscious biases. For instance, when someone claims that being “different is inherently inferior”, that indicates they don’t take into account how others might perceive those differences – leading to lack of empathy, misunderstands and organizational failure.
Diversity encompasses all of the ways individuals differ, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, physical ability and education. Diversity also covers differences in ideas, perspectives and values that separate us all. Inclusion refers to making sure people from diverse identities feel valued, respected and supported – this includes addressing unconscious biases as well as eliminating barriers that impede participation in society.
Equity is key to creating an environment in which all members feel included at work and society, including reducing discrimination based on identity or appearance, while also guaranteeing equal opportunities and resources to everyone.
Companies need to ensure that people from various backgrounds have equal say in decision-making processes that affect them, and encourage employees to become more aware of issues related to equality and inclusion through inclusive language use, training courses offered on this topic, or cultivating an inclusive culture.
Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion tend to be more innovative and effective. This is because they can better meet the needs of a wider array of customers while simultaneously being more likely to attract top talent and hold competitive advantage in the marketplace.
As such, the business case for DEI has never been stronger. According to McKinsey research, businesses with more diverse leadership teams are 35% more profitable than those without. Furthermore, those that prioritize DEI tend to generate new ideas more readily while strengthening bonds among employees more readily than their non-DEI counterparts.
Many companies still face significant hurdles when it comes to creating an inclusive workplace. The tech sector remains extremely homogenous, with women and people of color struggling to break through its glass ceiling; and in financial services there remain far too few women holding senior management roles or serving on boards.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has as its ultimate goal the creation of workplaces that value, support and engage all individuals equally. To do this effectively, companies must do more than hire diverse employees or offer access to DEI training – they must foster an atmosphere of inclusion for all people while eliminating any barriers that prevent participation – particularly those that impact underrepresented groups.
Addressing bias can encompass many different systems and processes within an organization, including how it celebrates success, runs meetings or makes introductions, conducts business transactions or practices itself. Doing this ensures everyone feels safe to bring their authentic selves to work while being seen and heard by everyone within their company.
Key to building an inclusive culture is avoiding tokenization, in which organizations prioritize appearance over real diversity. This might involve having one Black employee or women in leadership positions, but can have adverse repercussions for morale if people perceive they’re being used just for window dressing purposes.
Implementing an inclusive workplace takes time and effort, but its rewards are great in the long run. Companies that prioritize inclusion outperform those that don’t, have more engaged employees, and can utilize all talents that exist within the team more efficiently.
Noting the difference between diversity and inclusion is of critical importance; although related, they should not be confused as synonymous terms. Their letter order can sometimes cause contention, with some advocating to put “equity” before diversity or include it within an acronym. However, this dichotomy isn’t accurate – many factors must be taken into consideration when creating an inclusion framework, so understanding diversity, equity and inclusion is vital in order to maximize their benefits. To address this, it is key for companies to enlist enthusiastic mid-level influencers within the organization who understand market-current workplace policies and can serve as bridges between upper management and rank and file employees. Diversity councils or recruitment of individuals from diverse ethnicities, genders, functions and geographic locations can assist with this effort.
Belonging is the sense of connection that people experience within groups, and is essential to employee wellness. When employees feel as if they belong in their workplaces, they’re more engaged and likely to support business objectives.
Belonging is intimately related to social identity, or how someone perceives themselves within society. Belonging can refer to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, culture, age socioeconomic status education life career paths marital status disability etc – whatever matters for their own understanding and well being in life and society.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) encourages an environment in which employees feel they belong at their workplace and promote a sense of safety for all employees. Feelings of belonging also serve to strengthen organizational cultures while aiding organizations in formulating and executing strategies for workforce success and business goals.
An organization seeking to foster equality within its membership may look at issues of bias head on, such as unconscious biases and stereotypes formed outside our awareness or microaggressions against someone based on their difference. A sense of belonging can also provide spaces in which employees can practice their religion and spirituality at work.
Lack of belonging at work can result in dissatisfaction with one’s job and their overall health, with those lacking this feeling three times more likely to report poor health than their counterparts who feel connected at work.
Organizations need to establish intentional connections with their workers for them to feel like part of an inclusive organization, be that through mentor programs or sharing personal stories among colleagues. Recognizing and celebrating accomplishments also reinforces a sense of belonging while showing that all are welcome in an organization.
Language around diversity, equity and inclusion is often difficult to interpret in its true sense; therefore this glossary serves to provide a framework for understanding these concepts while stimulating meaningful discussion on them.