Organisations are like well-oiled machines, driven by their duty to customers and team members under the constant pursuit of product perfection. However, as we progress into a more socially-conscious era, it has become increasingly clear that companies have a broader responsibility to promote equity and inclusion in the workplace. After all, 76% of today’s workforce believe a diverse work environment is essential when evaluating companies and job offers.
But let’s not just rely on corporate jargon and vague pledges to get the job done. Instead, let’s actively strive to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) policies. That means committing to real action and progress for underrepresented groups, not just empty promises.
In this blog, we will delve into the world of DE&I and explore how it can benefit your organisation. We’ll also cover the practical steps you can take to incorporate these initiatives and make your workplace a fairer and more inclusive culture.
Table of Contents
What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
DE&I strategy is a framework that aims to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in an organisation. It recognises and values differences among individuals, promoting fairness and justice and creating a sense of belonging for all employees. Each one of these three principles brings incredible value to any organisation for the following reasons:
- Diversity: Diversity refers to the range of differences among individuals, including race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, religion, disability, education, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It recognises that every individual is unique and brings something different.
- Equity: Equity refers to fairness and justice. Everyone should be treated fairly, with equal access to resources, opportunities, and outcomes are distributed. It aims to level the playing field so everyone has an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their background or identity.
- Inclusion: Inclusion refers to efforts that create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported. Inclusive cultures in organisations actively seek out and welcome diverse perspectives and ideas and creating a sense of belonging for all people.
How DE&I Benefits Organisations
Businesses that have implemented DE&I strategies in the past have yet to see anything but positive results. Research from Deloitte discovered that DE&I could raise team performance by 17%, increase team collaboration by 29%, and is twice as likely to exceed financial outcomes due to a newfound presence of innovative thinkers. These positive effects occur because an inclusive workplace model brings many benefits within your organisation, such as:
- Attracting and retaining top talent: Candidates increasingly seek employers who value greater diversity and offer an inclusive workplace culture.
- Improving employee engagement and productivity: DE&I efforts make employees feel a sense of belonging and foster a culture of respect and collaboration.
- Enhancing the organisation’s reputation: Organisations prioritising DE&I are viewed more positively by customers, investors, and the wider community, strengthening the organisation’s reputation and increasing its brand value.
- Improving decision-making: When people with different backgrounds and viewpoints work together, they are more likely to challenge assumptions and identify blind spots as they bring various perspectives and experiences.
- Addressing systemic barriers: DE&I can help identify and address systemic barriers that may prevent certain groups from succeeding in the workplace, ensuring fair treatment.
DE&I Strategies for Workplace Diversity
Now that we know what DE&I can do, let’s discuss how to make it happen. There’s no one right way to go when incorporating diversity initiatives, but these strategies are a safe bet to elevate your business performance.
Your main priority might first be determining which of these to start with, depending on your organisation’s resources and current DE&I standing. But don’t forget to communicate expectations of any diversity goals and inclusion policies to executive teams, senior leaders, and other stakeholders.
1) Foster an Inclusive Workplace
Creating a company culture of inclusivity starts with a commitment to inclusive leadership and involvement. For managers or team leaders, you can set the tone by promoting respect and an inclusive environment. This might involve regularly discussing the importance of DE&I with your team, encouraging feedback and suggestions, and providing opportunities for team members to share their perspectives and experiences.
Encourage Open Communication
Inclusion efforts should lead to an environment where your team feels comfortable speaking up and sharing their thoughts and ideas, even if their opinions differ from their colleagues or superiors. Model this behaviour by actively listening to your team and demonstrating their value, encouraging managers to have one-on-one meetings with team members to build trust and ensure everyone feels heard.
Actively Seek Out Diverse Perspectives
Intentionally hire new talent from diverse backgrounds and create opportunities for them to contribute their unique skills and perspectives to the organisation. Give them the tools and resources they need to work effectively with each other, regardless of communication styles or cultural norms, and encourage collaboration across different departments and teams.
Celebrate Your Diverse Workforce
Diverse workplaces recognise and value the differences people bring to the workplace, whether their background, culture, language, or other aspects of their identity. Consider hosting cultural events and festivals to celebrate diversity and foster community!
2) Ensure Fair, Equitable Policies and Procedures
It’s essential to recognise that not all people start from the same place, and some may face systemic barriers that prevent them from achieving the same level of success as others. By evaluating policies and practices with an equity lens, companies can identify and address these barriers, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Here are some specific policies and procedures that companies should evaluate to provide equity and inclusion.
Hiring Process and Promotion Practices
For the talent management and acquisition process, organisations should check how they hire people to create a diverse workforce where everyone has a fair shot. They can trial strategies like blind resume reviews, adapting job descriptions, or having a diverse interview panel and perhaps evaluate their promotion practices to know whether they provide equal career advancement opportunities.
Pay and Benefits
Make room to evaluate compensation policies that guarantee no pay disparities based on gender, race, or other characteristics for your top talent. In doing so, it’s also worth providing equitable benefits to all team members, including parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and accommodations for disabilities and religious practices.
Accommodations For Diverse Talent
Take a deep look at policies and procedures for accommodating team members with disabilities or religious practices to guarantee your facility provides equal opportunities. Allowing everyone’s needs will certainly breed a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
3) Invest in Diversity and Inclusion Training
Research shows that only 32% of organisations provide diversity training to their team members. Yet these training opportunities prepare people across the organisation’s departments with the right tools and knowledge to understand and appreciate diverse perspectives.
Some common types of diversity and inclusion training programs include:
Unconscious bias training
A practice that focuses on helping people recognise and overcome their own unconscious biases. Unchecked, these biases can lead to discriminatory behaviour, even among people who believe they are committed to diversity and inclusion.
Cultural competency training
This coaching teaches people how to interact effectively with those from diverse backgrounds. In turn, this training can help reduce workplace misunderstandings and conflicts.
Diversity and inclusion awareness training
An all-rounded training course raising awareness on unconscious bias, cultural competence, and the importance of creating an inclusive work environment.
Microaggression awareness training
Teaches your team members to recognise and avoid microaggressions, which are subtle, often unintentional actions or comments that can be hurtful to people from marginalised groups.
4) Engage in Community Outreach and Partnerships
Community outreach and partnerships can help companies build relationships with underrepresented populations, increase their visibility in the community, and demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Keep in mind that these partnerships have to be genuine and authentic. Building real relationships takes time and effort, but they can help to evolve your company’s culture and contribute to positive change in the community.
Here are some specific ways that your organisation can engage in such initiatives:
- Mentorship programmes: Provide mentorship opportunities for young people from underrepresented groups, which enables a diverse talent pipeline and gives young people the skills and resources they need to succeed.
- Partnerships with local organisations: Partner with local organisations that serve minority groups, such as community centres or nonprofits.
- Volunteering: Encourage the people in your organisation to gain insights into local communities through organised volunteer events or individual volunteering.
- Sponsorship of community events: Organisations can sponsor events celebrating diversity and inclusion, such as Pride parades or cultural festivals.
- Collaborative projects: Collaborate with local organisations on projects that promote diversity and inclusion, like art exhibits or public awareness campaigns.