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“Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace”

Image of a business (Unsplash, 2023)

DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a discipline, DE&I is any policy or practice designed to make people of various backgrounds feel welcome and ensure they have support to perform to the fullest of their abilities in the workplace. Diversity refers to the presence of differences within a given setting; in the workplace, that may mean differences in race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic background. Equity is the act of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial, and fair and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual. Inclusion is the practice of making people feel a sense of belonging at work.

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have a distinct advantage. A diverse and inclusive workplace not only improves employee morale and retention but also fosters innovation and drives financial performance.

Recent research has highlighted the business case for promoting DEI in the workplace. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with more diverse teams are 35% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts. Similarly, the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse leadership teams had higher revenue and better financial performance.

“We as employers need to make sure we’re including these individuals and that we’re giving them equity,” said Catalina Colman, the Director of HR and Inclusion at Built In. “We need to make sure that, not only do they have a job, but they have the same ability to get promoted, to contribute and have the same impact — in the world and the workplace — as their peers.’’

“Equity takes into account the fact that not everybody is starting at the same level,” explained Colman. “Take home ownership, for example. A bank can make the statement that the loan application process is equal and that they will not discriminate based on race, gender, or ethnicity. That doesn’t take into account student loans, familial debt, socioeconomic status, or what have you. These are prohibitive factors that hold some individuals back from receiving a loan.”

These limitations are what define barriers and give rise to advantages, ultimately leading to an inequitable process. Colman offers a second example of job application rates between men and women — women tend to apply to roles where they meet 100 percent of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet just 60 percent.

So, what can companies do to promote DEI in the workplace? Here are some key strategies:

  1. Prioritize DEI in your hiring practices: To create a diverse workforce, it is important to proactively recruit candidates from underrepresented groups. This can involve reaching out to minority-serving organizations, universities, and job fairs, as well as ensuring that job postings are written inclusively.
  1. Train managers and employees on unconscious bias: Unconscious bias can often lead to hiring and promotion decisions that are not based on merit. Training managers and employees on unconscious bias can help to mitigate its effects and ensure that decisions are made based on objective criteria.
  1. Foster a culture of inclusion: It is important to create a workplace culture where all employees feel valued and respected, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. This can involve promoting open communication, providing mentorship opportunities, and creating diverse and inclusive leadership teams.
  1. Monitor and assess progress: Companies should continuously monitor and assess their progress toward promoting DEI in the workplace. This can involve collecting data on employee demographics, conducting regular employee surveys, and creating metrics to measure the success of DEI initiatives.

In addition to the financial benefits of promoting DEI, there is also a growing recognition that it is simply the right thing to do. In today’s socially conscious business environment, employees and consumers alike are looking for companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion. Failure to do so can lead to reputational damage and difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.

According to Forbes, increasing female partners’ shares by 10 percent often leads to a 10 percent rise in revenue. In addition, firms that display culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams are 33 percent more likely to lead their industries in profitability. When people feel welcomed for who they are, they perform at a higher level. It’s a win-win situation for everyone when companies take steps to diversify their workforces.

Promoting DEI in the workplace is not always easy, but it is essential for companies that want to thrive in today’s business environment. By creating a workplace that is welcoming and inclusive to all, companies can improve their bottom line, create a more just and equitable society, and set themselves apart from the competition.

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