Diversity, equity, and inclusion are topics that have gained increasing attention and discourse in recent years, in the media and organizational environments, thanks to movements like ‘MeToo’ and ‘Black Lives Matter.’
All too frequently, though, the story revolves around how businesses fail to reach their diversity objectives. Even though most organizational leaders realize the commercial need of hiring and keeping a diverse and inclusive workforce, it is obvious that many are still struggling to make it a reality.
Today, every company needs to analyze how much its business and its brand present commitment to diversity to the public and how much they give space to internal pluralities. With the integration of diversity and inclusion, organizations can demonstrate a broad and attractive vision for all, in addition to showing a more open and respectful mindset. To achieve this goal, it is essential to better understand what diversity and inclusion are, what are the differences between these concepts, and how we can put them into practice.
What are diversity, equity, and inclusion?
The acronym DEI, which stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is an encompassing word used to define programmes, policies, strategies, and practices utilized by an organization to promote an equal workplace and promote fairness and inclusivity initiatives. Promoting equality and inclusion as part of your corporate culture is critical for your firm’s success, especially in today’s dynamic marketplace. It also fosters an equal work environment, which leads to a great employee experience.
This talks about people, their singularities, experiences, experitise, and ways of projecting themselves to the world; and how they integrate into different spaces — social, economic, political and corporate. When we link diversity, equity, and inclusion to the business environment, there is a great benefit to the organizational climate and culture, in addition to adding value to the relationships between employees and their results.
One of the most important objectives that an organization can achieve is to create a work environment that makes diversity, equity, and inclusion three fundamental characteristics of their culture. Being able to (re)orientate your recruiting and personnel management policy means, first of all, having a more representative, but also a more productive workforce, and a much more effective employer branding.
Let’s have a look at each of the concepts, why they are important, and how to develop them in your organization.
Diversity is related to the concept of plurality, that is, characteristics, behaviors, and values that make people unique. Diversity can be understood as any characteristic that differentiate people from one another. It also means multiplicity and variety, being related to all the attributes that characterize or differentiate individuals within a group or society.
Diversity is built day by day, with a continuous process that allows not only to have a diversified work team, but which represents the diversities of the context and is amalgamated around them, giving rise to a mentality capable of characterizing both the culture of the brand, its daily operations and productivity.
The concept of inclusion is the ability to understand and recognize other individuals who are different in one or several aspects, respecting their pluralities and integrating them into the environment. Inclusion is the act of creating healthy spaces for people with different aspects from yours, accepting and dealing with their differences. In this way, it is possible to adapt the environment so that everyone present is respected and can live independently in their singularity.
Inclusion goes hand in hand with diversity, that is the ability to make all diversities coexist and cooperate in the best possible way, making them peculiar strengths of the organization. Making room for diversity leads to inclusion, that is, to more equitable recruitent processes and workflows in which everyone recognizes inclusiveness as the founding value of the activity, to welcome, involve, and enhance each colleague—thanks to a truly capable environment to unite different cultures and human perspectives, in dialogue and cooperation. To do this, it is necessary to limit badly rooted habits and dismantle unconscious prejudices, which do not allow us to grow inclusively and positively.
Among employees, especially among the youngest, there is an increasing desire to work in environments where diversity and inclusion are acquired concepts, and in which the corporate mentality is open and proactive in promoting progressive policies.
The concept of DEI is taking precedence in companies as workplace cultures are improving. In particular, diversity is already a well-known notion among forward-thinking businesses. However, greater awareness of social exclusions encountered by persons from underprivileged backgrounds has pushed the term ‘equity’ to the center of discussions about diversity and inclusion. Some people say that Equity is the missing link between diversity and inclusion.
Equity in the workplace is all about empowering and leveling the playing field for all employees. In the workplace, equity refers to treating everyone fairly. It refers to providing equal opportunity to people from diverse origins, cultures, and talents. Transparency in cause and effect is clear, with everyone expecting the same in terms of penalties and rewards. There is equal opportunity when there is equity as it fosters a pleasant work environment for both employees and employers.
Importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations
According to the Diversity and Inclusion Speakers Agency, by 2024, 47.2% of the workforce will consist of women. Other sources reveal that 78% of employees believe their organizations lack diverse leadership, three out of four employees prefer diverse companies, and 80% want inclusive companies.
Therefore, DEI is more than just a socially responsible thing to do. In addition to valuing and serving different people, it also:
• Drives employee productivity and performance
• Fosters creativity and innovation
• Grows a company’s talent pool
• Reduces employee turnover
• Increases profits and grows a company’s market
Organizations can now begin to see diversity, equity, and inclusion as strong points for business growth. With different worldviews interacting, there’s an emergence of a more favorable space for creativity and innovation, which can result in more efficient processes or products that are suitable for different groups in society. But for companies to have diversity, equity, and inclusion as a value, it is necessary to take action.
How to apply the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Before organizations can take advantage of DEI, their leaders must commit to making these initiatives a tenet of their values. They must invest the necessary resources to ensure that different groups are adequately represented, that there is fairness in opportunities and pay structures, and that all people feel welcome and included in the organization.
An inclusive environment cannot be achieved without awareness and cultural competence; to enhance diversity you need to know and understand them. Only by starting from this premise is it possible to undermine old privileges, encourage discussion and recognize those who have always been discriminated against fairness of treatment, expression, and growth within the company.
With more attentive and aware interactions, we understand the values and experiences of others and how diversity is fertile ground for everyone’s life and how important it is to respect them.
For the more structured realities, it may be interesting to set up a working group dedicated to diversity management, so as to monitor the difficulties and progress of the tortuous inclusiveness process within the organization.
Finally, to adapt all the collateral paths capable of fostering diversity and inclusion, starting with recruiting and personnel management.