Building a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion should not be mistaken as a simple box-ticking exercise or HR initiative. It has become an integral part of a business’s success.
Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace can transform productivity, attract top talent and help retain existing staff.
In this blog, we’ll explore what diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mean in the context of the workplace, and the ways in which you can achieve it.
What do diversity, equity, and inclusion mean in the workplace?
Achieving DEI in the workplace means creating a work environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and heard, regardless of their background or identity.
To break these three aspects down:
Diversity in the workplace means building a workforce made up of people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and other characteristics that make an individual unique. As well as making efforts to value and celebrate those differences.
Equity is about ensuring every employee has access to equal opportunities. This includes fair treatment, equal pay, and access to resources and benefits, irrespective of a person’s gender, age or race.
Inclusion means creating an environment in which every employee feels welcomed, valued, and supported. This involves providing opportunities for every member of staff to participate and contribute towards business goals and decision-making processes.
What benefits can this bring to a business?
A workplace that fosters all three of these elements can expect numerous benefits in return.
In fact, organisations that actively promote DEI in their workplaces frequently report improvements such as increased employee engagement and morale, greater decision-making, improved retention, better customer relationships and an enhanced brand reputation.
A 2019 study by McKinsey, for example, found that companies focusing on gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability.
Meanwhile, a sense of belonging was ranked as the most important driver for organisational performance, according to a study from Deloitte.
So, as an employer, how can you unlock the potential of DEI in your business and make it an embedded part of your workplace culture? We’ll explore five ways to achieve this below.
5 ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace
1. Make it a part of your business strategy
Your mission, vision, goals, and objectives as a company should continually be shaped around promoting a culture of DEI. This should be shared with your employees from their very first day of employment – allowing them to recognise it as a key priority from day one.
You should work with your team to incorporate all three elements into your policies and procedures, and make these readily available to staff as well as the public to keep you accountable. Regularly review and update these to ensure they stay relevant and effective.
Making DEI a part of your overarching business strategy will help it become ingrained into everyday work.
2. Give all employees a voice
Creating a culture of open communication is a huge part of inclusivity. Employers need to ensure every member of staff is listened to, regardless of their role or seniority.
There are a number of ways in which you can attain this; whether it’s face-to-face with regular one-to-ones and team catch-ups, or via focus groups which allow employees to share thoughts on business developments, such as new projects or product launches.
It’s also important to ensure even the most reserved of employees have a platform to have their say; this could be confidentiality through anonymous surveys or polls, or through an office suggestion box – which gives employees the freedom to disclose as much detail as they feel comfortable with.
By listening to different perspectives and valuing a range of experiences, innovation and creativity will flourish, leading to greater decision-making and the generation of profitable ideas.
However, as well as encouraging employees to speak up, it’s vital that you’re also listening to their feedback and recognising their input, by taking the appropriate action and implementing any necessary changes and resolutions, or by simply acknowledging and rewarding creative thinking.
3. Educate and empower employees
Leading DEI efforts is a complex operation. For it to be truly effective, you need to provide employees with the right training, guidance, and support necessary so that they feel empowered to confidently execute DEI initiatives on a daily basis.
This is particularly relevant to your team leaders and management, who play a pivotal role in making your company inclusive and equitable.
Equip your staff with resources and support to help them promote DEI; such as diversity and inclusion training materials, access to mental health resources, and support for employee-led diversity initiatives.
4. Promote pay equity
Ensuring all employees are paid fairly for the work they do, regardless of their gender or personal characteristics, is an essential aspect of promoting equity in your workplace.
Pay equity is a vital factor in retaining staff and attracting talent, as well as maintaining a positive reputation as an employer.
Take regular action to pinpoint any pay gaps that may exist across your teams. One way to achieve this is by conducting a comprehensive review of your pay structure, to identify any patterns and disparities within departments, so that they can be addressed.
Create a clear and transparent pay structure that outlines the criteria for determining salaries and bonuses. This will help guide decisions around pay and maintain fairness across the company.
What’s more, equity is also something that should be reflected in your hiring and promotion practices. Ensure that all decisions relating to recruitment and development are focused on qualifications and performance, and free from bias.
It’s also imperative that all employees feel supported in their training and development, and that equal opportunities are provided to everyone, regardless of their experience, background, or personal characteristics.
Keeping a written record is a good way to evaluate why decisions have been made and remain accountable, whilst keeping track of your DEI progress.
5. Communicate and measure progress
DEI is not an overnight process. It will take time to build structural changes and implement new strategies across your workforce.
To keep your business on track, it’s vital to set benchmarks and put the necessary metrics in place to measure your progress over time, to ensure your efforts are truly making a difference.
Updating policies and procedures is not a one-off task – this is something you’ll need to review on an ongoing basis at regular intervals.
Communicate your DEI goals and progress with employees, as well as stakeholders and customers, to ensure transparency and engagement, as this will keep everyone involved and aware of your developments.
Integrating DEI practices into your workplace may require time and persistence, but its impact is undoubtedly worth the efforts involved. As well as making a difference to under-represented communities and people, your business will thrive as a result.
We hope you have found this post useful, and we wish you all the best with your efforts in achieving DEI in your workplace.