What is DEI? (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion)

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a concept that is on high rise within the recruitment world. Find out why, how and where DEI is important for your orgnazition here.

A whooping 55% of people have experienced discrimination at work. And the worse part, more than 80% of those go unnoticed and unresolved.

With such peaking statistics, the incorporation of diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces has become a prerequisite.

Whether you’re new to the concept or are looking to expand your knowledge about DEI, this article will help you answer all of the questions.

Looking at Accenture, a leading global professional services company sets a good diversity in workplace examples. 60% of Accenture's board of directors are of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, 50% of them being women, and the company is continually working to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

Their efforts are paying off – Accenture was recently ranked #1 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

But first of all, what is DEI?

What Is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is an umbrella term that is used to define programs or policies that ensure the participation and representation of people from different backgrounds in the workplace.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become crucial tools in the workplace today. It is not only a feel-good initiative, studies have shown that gender-diverse leadership teams are 21% more likely to perform well in terms of profitability at an organization.

What is Diversity in the Workplace?

Diversity in the workplace is related to the human makeup of an organization. A business can be considered diverse when it includes people of all ages, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, veteran statuses, and also people of varied experience, skills, education, and personalities.

Note: A diverse workforce must include a range of characteristics as mentioned above but should not be limited to them.

Why Diversity Matters?

A diverse workforce is vital because it promotes the development of ideas and solutions that originate from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds.

Diversity is not something that you need to maintain for improving your company's reputation. Diversity provides a broader pool of talent with greater insights and in turn drives a larger clientele at your company.

Enhanced productivity, problem-solving, increased innovation, improved employee performance, and higher profits are just a few of the numerous benefits of workplace diversity that have been scientifically verified. Check out what the statistics say:

  • Higher representation of women in C-suite level positions resulted in 34% greater returns to shareholders
  • Companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues
  • Organizations with above-average gender diversity outperformed their peers by 46% to 58%

How To Demonstrate Diversity In The Workplace?

Here are some ways you can improve diversity in your office:

Add diversity to hiring teams:

Having a diverse hiring team can improve diversity in the workplace. Affinity bias is an unconscious bias that attracts people to others with similar qualities or viewpoints. If there’s no diversity on the hiring team, it might be more challenging to hire diverse employees.

**Use a blind hiring process: **

Removing names and other identifying factors from resumes before they’re reviewed can help increase diversity. A blind review process helps you focus on qualifications without letting unconscious bias affect who gets invited to interviews.

Analyze your makeup:

Gather statistics on the diversity you currently have on your staff. Look for underrepresented groups to guide your recruiting methods.

Hire for culture contribution:

You often hear about culture fit when hiring, but culture contribution is a better approach. Culture fit insinuates that new employees should fit in with the established culture. Cultural contribution means new employees bring something new to the company culture while still aligning with your core values.

What is equity in the workplace?

Equity in the workplace means that access to opportunities is proportional to each person’s needs. However, it should not be confused with equality.

Equity and equality are two different concepts that are sometimes used interchangeably. Equality strives to ensure all have the same things to be successful but it assumes that everyone starts equally as well, which is not true.

Equity means fairness and impartiality but also accepts that biases and obstacles exist for many that do not exist for others. Equity acknowledges that not all begin on an even playing field so work must be done to compensate for that.

Achieving workplace equity requires correcting that disparity, through support systems – so all have equal opportunity.

Why Equity Matters?

Equity in the workplace ensures that everyone is treated fairly. Every employee has equal access to opportunities when equity is prevalent. The workplace then becomes advantageous for both employers and employees. Equity also fosters employee retention, attracts talent, drives diversity, and enhances the work culture.

Having a workforce is a business imperative for most companies. By welcoming, valuing, and ensuring equal opportunities for all ethnicities, races, ages, religions, abilities, genders, and sexual orientations, a company can create a culture that’s truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Companies that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion tend to be more innovative, creative, and agile as well as attract and retain top talent.

Angus Maguire’s popular cartoon illustrates good equity in the workplace examples. He drew a picture of three people of different heights standing on boxes to watch sports from behind a fence.

In the ‘equality’ part of the image, each person receives the same number of boxes to stand on, meaning only the tallest can see the action. In the ‘equity’ part of the image, each person has an ample number of boxes they need to see over the fence, creating an equal vantage for everyone.

How To Demonstrate Equity In The Workplace?

Try these methods to improve equity in the workplace:

Provide development opportunities for all:

Establish growth-oriented development opportunities for each employee. Create customized career plans for your staff members to provide opportunities for everyone, starting from where they are today.

**Ensure pay equity: **

Stop asking for previous salaries and using that as the basis for an offer. If the candidate was paid unfairly at previous companies, you’re continuing that cycle. Establish salary guidelines with pay bands to offer equitable salaries for various positions.

**Offer advancement opportunities: **

Hiring a diverse workforce without being equitable with advancement opportunities can hurt DEI overall. Consider diversity when hiring for upper management positions or offering internal promotions to avoid keeping your diverse employees stuck in entry-level or lower positions.

What is Inclusion in the Workplace?

There is a widespread misconception that inclusion happens naturally in settings where diversity and equity are valued. After all, you've incorporated equitable principles into your organizational procedures, creating much more varied, well-represented teams. People must feel welcome in a place like this, right?

It seems that's not always the case.

The degree to which different team members, employees, and other individuals feel a sense of belonging and value within a certain organization is known as inclusion. The key distinction in this situation is that inclusion is not always felt, even among the most diverse teams.

For example, despite having a strong presence at the top management level, women may still not feel included because of gender norms, pay gaps, and other issues.

Inclusion builds a culture where everyone feels welcome by actively inviting every person or every group to contribute and participate. This inclusive and welcoming environment supports and embraces differences and offers respect to everyone in words and actions.

Why Inclusion Matters?

Inclusion is what maintains diversity. Without it, workers will want to leave the company. When a candidate enters a workplace and discovers that they are the only women or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) employee, they won't feel at home and will begin to doubt the employer's ideals and authenticity.

A good inclusion in workplace examples can be to celebrate diverse holidays as a team. Care about your employee’s cultural events and holidays and try to celebrate them as a team or give them a day off. It is important to acknowledge and respect the traditions and celebrations of employees from various backgrounds.

How To Demonstrate Inclusion In The Workplace?

Creating an inclusive work environment takes ongoing effort. Here are some ways to improve inclusion in the workplace:

Establish workplace policies:

Create a policy on inclusion for your company. Address known issues that have prevented inclusion for your employees in the past.

Focus on company culture:

Improve the company culture to emphasize psychological safety for all employees. Create an environment where everyone feels valued and all ideas are encouraged.

Rethink benefits:

Make employee benefits more flexible and compatible with a diverse workforce. Offer floating holidays instead of standard holidays, so employees have time off for the holidays they choose to celebrate. Choose health insurance plans that offer benefits to LGBTQ+ employees.

Honor and celebrate differences:

Don’t be afraid to notice and celebrate the differences among employees. Make it easier for people who are different to be themselves. If you offer free snacks to employees, include vegan snacks or have a separate refrigerator designated for vegan food to support people who are vegan, for example.

Why Is DEI Important?

Within recent years, there have been numerous studies that indicate the importance of DEI in the workplace, and the findings indicate that companies that commit to injecting DEI into their cultures were better off across the board than organizations that did not implement such measures.

A report called Unrealized Impact 2.0 by Promise 54 revealed that “Diverse teams are more innovative and make better decisions, and the diverse companies have better shareholder returns.”

Companies with racially and ethnically diverse leadership and executive teams have a 35% higher likelihood of financially outperforming companies with little or no diversity.

Organizations with more racial and gender diversity could prove they were more successful in sales revenue, more customers/clients, and higher profit margins.

Many studies show that although DEI initiatives in the workplace were not considered widespread practice within the corporate world, companies with DEI commitments within their organizations tended to have a more favorable brand awareness across all sectors of those polled; additionally, employees where DEI practices existed reported elevated levels of job satisfaction, compared to employees where DEI initiatives were not a priority.

Overall, most studies conducted in recent years conclude that organizations with strong DEI practices were viewed by study participants as stronger than those without a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.

What Is DEI In The Workplace?

Transparency is an essential part of successful DEI initiatives. This is the reason why so many of the top brands in the world now publish annual DEI reports online for everyone to see. These studies provide insightful information about the current state of DEI as well as particular initiatives and programs that businesses are putting in place to move the needle in the correct direction.

Google, for example, publishes a Diversity Annual report every year where we can see how they are addressing inequities and obstacles to education in the communities in which Google works.

The five steps that Google took in 2021 to make their organization adept with diversity, equity, and inclusion are:

  • We achieved our best year yet for hiring women globally, as well as Black and Latin employees in the U.S
  • We expanded how we help employees thrive at Google and are seeing promising early signs in inclusion and retention
  • We invested responsibly in the places we call home, building a Google that better reflects the diversity of our world.
  • We implemented new policies and practices to make hybrid work more inclusive and accessible.
  • We took concrete steps to foster a culture of belonging—which helps us better design and build products with everyone in mind.

What steps can you take to foster DEI in the workplace?

Focusing on the individual pieces of DEI can help you improve, but it’s also helpful to have an overall DEI strategy. Here are some ways to support and grow DEI in your company:

Form a DEI committee:

Create a team dedicated to developing DEI. This team can analyze the current situation and establish and maintain DEI initiatives. Include employees from all levels and backgrounds to ensure your DEI team is as diverse as possible. Bring on a chief diversity officer (CDO), whose duties include developing plans for attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, enhancing organizational culture, assisting employee resource groups, and fostering a more welcoming workplace.

**Survey your staff: **

It’s not always easy to understand how well you’re doing on DEI from your perspective. You need input from all staff members to see how they feel about the current situation. This creates your baseline and gives you guidance for training and initiatives to improve DEI.

Set goals:

Once you understand the current feelings on DEI, set goals to improve. Even if you get positive feedback and are already incorporating DEI initiatives, you can always set new goals to improve more.

Create a budget:

If you’re serious about building DEI in the workplace, put a budget in place for DEI initiatives. The money goes toward training and staff time to educate your staff and make changes.

**Investigate all complaints: **

Listen to your employees when they bring up instances of discrimination or bias in the workplace. Handle situations with specific employees and use them as inspiration for the training that all employees receive.

**Implement training: **

Employees at all levels need training in DEI. It’s not something that only managers can do. Everyone needs to help to create an equitable, inclusive environment.

Balance all three:

Remember that diversity, equity and inclusion are all important and need to go together. Focusing on one and ignoring the others can cause DEI to suffer.

Recognize that it’s ongoing:

DEI isn’t something that has a finish line or a recognizable endpoint when you can say your work is done. It’s something you always need to strive for and improve.

Now some bonus tips:

  • Identify workers who want to act as DEI sponsors. Newer and/or younger workers are often eager to help with DEI initiatives. Strike a balance between senior and junior workers who can help encourage a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the company.
  • Talk to employees about why DEI matters in the organization. Companies need diverse leaders who emphasize the need for DEI in the workplace.
  • Ensure DEI is integrated into the larger business strategy and culture of the organization, including human resources.
  • Commission an annual DEI report listing the DEI work the company has been doing and the progress made toward meeting its goals and objectives.

The benefits of DEI in the workplace

An organization with strong DEI practices ensures all voices are heard. Through representation, organizations foster a socially- and morally-adept workplace. Workforce DEI can also benefit an organization’s bottom line by creating a competitive advantage in many ways.

Here are some of the benefits of diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments:

**Financial performance: **

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians.

**Employer of choice: **

According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers view a diverse workforce as an important factor when evaluating companies and considering job offers.

**Innovation and growth: **

Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies are 70% likelier to capture a new market. They’re also 45% more likely to report increased market share year-over-year.

**Increased employee engagement: **

83% of millennials report being actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive workplace culture. That percentage drops to 60% when their organization does not foster an inclusive culture.

**Powerful decision-making: **

Diverse teams make better decisions up to 87% of the time, according to a study conducted by Forbes.

Measuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Establish DEI success metrics for your organization. Get answers to questions like

  • What is the approximate ratio of men to women, races to races, “abled” to disabled, etc., that will make your organization diverse at each level of the workforce?
  • What are the retention levels of diverse groups of employees?
  • What are your employee satisfaction scores?
  • What about customer satisfaction?
  • Are you known among your customer base as an inclusive organization?

Once your DEI program has been in place for some time, make sure to track the improvement in those areas. Revisit your strategic business goals and find out if the company’s revenue has increased. These are all important data points to measure and report on.

By recruiting diverse talent, building an inclusive culture that supports them, making a continuous commitment to DEI training, and measuring results, your organization is well-equipped to drive an equitable workplace in which all employees can thrive.

Why is the incorporation of DEI taking so much time?

It’s understandable that DEI initiatives are taking time to get established in the workplace. Here’s why:

  • It's not an easy subject to discuss, certainly not in public or at work. It's highly emotional and can be really uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Hard conversations must be initiated and people will need to question things they have seen growing up or things that they have been previously taught.

  • The fear of offending is very real. Inclusion and equity is a minefield for uttering something that could inadvertently cause offense. You can’t blame companies for being reluctant to tackle inclusion and equity in open conversations.

  • The thought that “if society can’t get DEI right, how can we?’ often prevails in the minds of the employer. The issue is so daunting that many leaders simply don’t know where to start. That’s completely understandable, but it can’t be a reason for doing nothing.

  • The reality is that some people want things to stay as they are. Change is uncomfortable and might rob them of some of the privileges they have become accustomed to. This is not something that many would be prepared to admit openly, but it can be a factor in holding progress back.

Final Note

Claiming to understand how to effectively integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion is like saying you understand how to navigate puberty. We all make mistakes when we're in it. Books are only so useful. Anyone can learn a lot by going through experiences and working with empathy and an open mind.

It might be a good idea to refrain from discussing or making plans without the participation of individuals who were previously shut out as a starting point. Talk to anyone who doesn't fit the stereotype of the white, cisgender man. This includes women, people of color, people with disabilities, people of different nationalities, and individuals of diverse sexual orientations.

Ask them what they require and begin with simple actions that could have a significant impact on their professional lives!