What Does DE&I Mean in the Workplace?
Historically speaking, there have been many barriers to educational and professional access for those belonging to marginalized groups. This has led to a lack of representation among the workforce. When it comes to creating a modern, welcoming, and well-rounded workplace, your company needs forward-thinking, goal-oriented, and sustainable practices. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace are some of the key components to having a successful company.
Diversity in the workplace isn't just a box you check off when it comes to your company culture, it truly is a way of life. A distinctly differing team brings unique ideas, skill sets, and backgrounds to the table, which leads to conversations that are more creative and more innovative. It's the best way to keep your company wide-ranging, forward-thinking, and profit-oriented.
So, what exactly is DE&I? DE&I is:
Diversity: Differences in race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, age, and other populations that tend to be marginalized and underrepresented.
Equity: Justice, impartiality, and fairness within a system, procedure, process, or access to resources. To be equitable is to understand the underlying reasons for existing disparities in our society.
Inclusion: The outcome is met when those who are diverse are actually welcomed and feel welcomed. The only way to meet this outcome is when you, your company, and your policies are actually welcoming to all.
When DE&I is treated as more than a buzzword, and as an actual priority within your company, every aspect of your organization thrives, even your bottom line. So how do you go above and beyond the old annual training and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion within your business? Here are five ways to take action:
Open the conversation flood gates To put it bluntly, we need to communicate better and with more people. Engaging with a broader scope of people and more members of your team allows for more voices to be heard, thereby allowing for more voices to be represented. Leaders need to lead by example and create an environment where effective communication is king.
Create company-wide connections When you encourage your company to collaborate with differing groups and departments, you’re actually encouraging boundary spanning, which is the ability to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds, positions, and locations. Boundary spanning is essential for DEI growth.
Elevate coaching Oftentimes workplaces can experience unconscious bias towards members of the team that aren’t the same as management. By creating a coaching, or mentorship, program, you can connect more of your employees to members of your management team who they may not typically have access to. Elevating your internal coaching helps to break down unintentional biases.
Audit systems and practices Are your current systems and practices for recruiting, hiring, and promoting in need of an overhaul? It’s always a good idea to check in and see where you can grow your business to be more inclusive. When recruiting and hiring, SRG’s predictive hiring tool can help eliminate unconscious bias in your hiring processes. Are there other systems in place that can grow out of unintentional and unconscious bias? Revisit your scheduling, networking, and workplace operations for another opportunity for growth and improvement.
Grow beyond social identity Social identity refers to the parts of your identity that group you in with others, such as age, sex, race, etc. When we understand the things that we have in common with others, as well as what makes us different, we can begin to understand each other’s unique perspectives more. If we can look at diversity through a lens of social identity, it allows every member of your team to be included in conversations and equally represented.
Initiatives surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion all have a common goal in mind: to create a workplace culture where your employees know that they are valued for who they are as individuals and will be supported and encouraged to grow. By implementing the five actionable processes above, you place your company at a vantage point to help drive change. Integrating DE&I into your company culture in an authentic way requires engagement from all levels of your staff, from senior staff to managers and employees, and is the first step in creating a more successful business of tomorrow.