Why DEI? A Brief Guide to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for a Thriving Workplace

If you were anywhere during 2020, you’ve probably heard of DEI. 

It stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and is becoming an increasingly important concept for companies to consider in today's society. DEI is a framework designed to ensure that all employees, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, or any other identity marker, are treated fairly and have equal opportunities to succeed in the workplace. The goal of DEI is to create a culture that values and respects differences, fosters inclusion, and promotes equitable treatment of all individuals.

A thriving workplace culture with a diverse team.

Why does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion matter?

DEI is a key social issue under the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) umbrella. DEI applies to every company, regardless of sector, size, or industry. It’s one of many non-financial factors that ESG investors evaluate when performing due diligence on a company. Those that prioritize DEI are more likely to be viewed positively by investors. It's a proxy for being seen as responsible corporate citizens that are creating positive social impact.

1: DEI initiatives help attract and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to stay with companies that prioritize DEI, because it fosters a more welcoming and supportive environment. According to Catalyst, “35% of an employee’s emotional investment in their work and 20% of their desire to stay at their organization is linked to feelings of inclusion.” Effective DEI practices can also lead to increased innovation and creativity, as employees from diverse backgrounds bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. 

2: Companies that DON’T prioritize DEI have worse economic outcomes. Those that have DEI initiatives are better equipped to serve a wider demographic range of customers and clients. Minority buying power in the U.S. has increased exponentially in the last 30 years—from $458 billion in 1990 to $3 trillion in 2020. Demographics like women and the LGBTQ community also continue to show increases in consumer spending. As the population becomes more diverse, companies that are able to understand and cater to the needs of different populations will be more successful in the long run. 

Engaged employees at a healthy workplace.

3. Principals. Committing to DEI is simply the right thing to do. It aligns with basic human values and is a potent opposite of the systemic injustices facing employees who outside of the workplace live in the margins.

Implementing effective DEI practices: 7 Essential tips for your organization's success

Implementing DEI practices can be challenging, but it is essential for companies that want to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace. Doing so requires commitment and effort from everyone in the company. Here are some steps that companies can take to implement DEI practices:

  1. Assess the current state of DEI in the company: Companies should conduct an assessment of their current DEI practices and policies to identify areas that need improvement. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or interviews with employees.
Planning and implementing an effective DEI strategy.
  1. Set goals and develop a DEI strategy: Once a company has identified areas for improvement, it should set goals and develop a DEI strategy that aligns with the company's mission and values. This strategy should include specific actions, timelines, and metrics to measure progress.
  1. Provide DEI training: Companies should provide DEI training to all employees, including leadership, to help them understand the importance of DEI, recognize unconscious biases, and learn how to create a more inclusive workplace.
  1. Recruit and retain diverse talent: Companies should actively recruit and retain a diverse workforce by implementing strategies such as blind resume reviews, creating diverse hiring committees, and offering mentorship and development opportunities for underrepresented employees.
Recruiting and retaining diverse talent.
  1. Create an inclusive culture: Companies should create an inclusive culture by promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the business, including policies, practices, and decision-making. This can be done through employee resource groups, diversity and inclusion councils, and regular communication and feedback channels.
  1. Measure and track progress: Companies should measure and track progress towards their DEI goals to ensure that they are making progress and identify areas that need improvement. This can be done through regular surveys, employee feedback, and performance metrics.
  1. Hold leaders accountable: Company leaders should be held accountable for implementing and promoting DEI practices throughout the organization. This can be done through setting DEI goals as part of their performance evaluation, holding them responsible for creating an inclusive culture, and ensuring that they are modeling inclusive behaviors.
Holding company leaders accountable for effective DEI practices and policies.

Embrace DEI as a continuous journey 

It’s important to note that implementing DEI practices is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and commitment from everyone in the company.  Promoting DEI must involve buy-in from all levels of the organization, from senior leadership to individual employees. By taking these steps, companies can create a more inclusive workplace that attracts top talent, fosters innovation and creativity, and ultimately drives business success.

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