Tabi on Racial Matters: DEI is a must have not just nice to have

| May 10, 2022

In today’s world of work, there are many demographics within the workforce. The diverse demographics include women, people of all ages, people with disabilities, Black people, other people of Colour, people with various sexual orientations, all combining in workplaces more than ever before.

Therefore, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is become crucial for the health, productivity and success of organisations through the business and a human viewpoint.

A study conducted by Pew Research Centre in 2018 concluded that, “89% of adults say that it’s essential for today’s business leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace”. A workplace that adopts a safer work environment that supports everyone irrespective of Age, Disability, Race, Sexuality, Religion or Gender.

This proposition makes DEI a must to have not just nice to have.

What is DEI?

DEI is an acronym used to describe programs and policies that support representation and participation of all people and talents at work.

It is about different genders, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations, as well as diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills, talents, and expertise.

The goal of DEI is to hire a diverse workforce, and simultaneously create systems policies and procedures that allow for all employees to be included in business activities and have their voices heard irrespective of the position they hold within the organisation.

Let’s look at each element of DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Diversity – is about difference. The differences in teams reflected in diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, age, ability, gender, religion, nationality, sexuality, and beliefs, as well as any one of many identity dimensions that make up who we are. This is fundamental to the make-up Diversity of any organisation. Diverse teams are proven to come up with better ideas and achieve stronger results because of the pool of talents in the mix. But businesses must create environments for this benefit to be harnessed.

Equity – Equity is about businesses taking the necessary actions to make sure that all employees have the same access to opportunities, closing the pay gap as an example. It’s about proactively seeking to level the playing field, as we don’t all start life the same. For businesses to achieve DEI, it must seek to understand where the need is within their organisation and then work to provide the support or create favourable conditions for disadvantaged groups.

Inclusion – Inclusion is diversity in action. It’s about providing environments where Everyone can feel Belonging. It’s about making sure that your diverse teams can work seamlessly together, and this can happen when your business decides to cultivate and to make Inclusion a part of its very DNA, regardless of who is employed to work there.

When your company cultivates Inclusion, employees will feel a sense of belonging as a result.

When all of the elements of DEI are taken into account, you will achieve belonging in the presence of differences because they will be seen, heard or respected.

So how does your company set itself up for success and why is culture so important?

How DEI impacts businesses?

Studies tells us, Employers who invest in and create a company culture that enshrines DEI at its core are more productive, creative, innovative, and financially successful. You can check out case studies of organisations doing DEI well in my recent Book, Inclusive Teams and Workplaces: Everyone Wins!!.

Organisations that take the time to understand how DEI can support their workplace will reap the benefits in being able to attract great candidates. Millennials and Gen Z’ers for example, who are driving a richly diverse labour pool are confident in their ability to seek organisations that are DEI friendly.

With the workspace shifting into more remote working, focusing on DEI is becoming increasingly important not only for employees well-being, but also business well-being.

A recent study shows that 70% of job seekers said a company’s commitment to diversity is important for them. Similarly, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Millennial Survey, Millennials reported staying longer with companies that understand the needs of a diverse workforce. Again, Forbes reported that workplaces with a strong culture of DEI were five times more likely to have an innovation mindset than those with less inclusive cultures.

Five Key Factors to Success in DEI

1 – Address Structural Barriers – DEI engagement must be led from the top, middle and bottom so that structural inequities can been brought to bear and dealt with.

2 – Incorporate DEI Strategies – co-design DEI Strategies with all Key stakeholders.

3 – Foster a Diversified Workforce – hire diversity at all levels, creating a diverse avenue for promotions, committing to DEI training among executives and team members.

4 – Address Employee Concerns – learn from internal survey results to understand how your organisation views your culture, ensuring respect and equity is paramount.

5 – Evaluate and Review DEI Strategies – ongoing evaluations and review to ensure DEI is going as planned and tweaking as needed.

All three elements of DEI must be included. It is when diversity, equity and inclusion is in place that your business will achieve the biggest impact and reap the rewards.

DEI must be maintained, updated, and managed throughout the life cycle of the business, like you would with financial goals.

Equip your employees with DEI tools to give them a greater chance to succeed.

Working productively, and being happy at work all leads to a more profitable and stronger business.