What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Written by Angel from the be the change HR Team


Workplace “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)” is a hot topic these days. Organizations are looking for ways to create a safe space for their team members and DEI Programs can help you get there. In our previous blog, “Why Do You Need to Prioritize DEI?”, we listed some reasons why you should invest in DEI.

So what exactly is Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion? 

Diversity

The first thing that comes to mind when we think of the word diversity is having people of different colors in the workplace (speaking for myself here). It’s 2021 and we must know by now that there is more to it than that. Having a few members of minority groups to say you have a diverse workplace is tokenism. Some employers may try to take this route to avoid falling victim to cancel culture, but it’s quite offensive and degrading. Please don’t do this. 

Diversity when an organization is embracing people’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity sexual orientation, and pregnancy), age, and disability in the workplace (we in HR call these characteristics, protected classes). This doesn’t mean that you must go out and hire people based on the characteristics, although you can. We call this affirmative action which is a separate conversation. 

Back to diversity, the big takeaway piece is that the workplace is accepting of the differences and provides equal opportunities for everyone. You can do this with promotions, raises, hiring practices, etc. In fact, all employers with 5+ employees should have an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement in their employee handbooks

That’s some good ol’ fashion government-reinforced diversity!

Equity

Equity is how accessible resources and opportunities are to the members of protected classes. Equity is what levels the playing field to make the opportunities truly equal for everyone. Again this is 2021, you know people have not all had a fair chance at opportunities that are available to “all.” 

One way to start is to know the demographics and goals of your organization. Let’s say your goal is to reduce the turnover rate for your warehouse workers. The first thing that you may want to look at is the employee lifecycle. 

You may find that along the two-year mark, your employees are leaving. You survey your team and realize that most of your employees are feeling underappreciated because only white men over the age of 30 are getting promotions. 

Use this information to find a solution to your turnover issue. For example, strategize with your HR Department and introduce new opportunities for internal growth. Think about conducting annual performance reviews and allow employees to express their career interests. If it’s reasonable, you provide the resources for them to achieve this so by the time they hit the two-year mark, they are more qualified for internal promotional opportunities.

That is how equity works! You work with your team to identify ways the company can support their growth so that you provide fair and equitable opportunities for those who start off on unequal footing.

Inclusion

Inclusion is very similar to diversity but this goes one step further. Inclusion is the acceptance and representation of your team’s different characteristics. When you are inclusive, you are seeking to make sure that your employees feel like they belong, are valued, and are taken into consideration. 

The first step toward inclusion is to educate yourself and learn about the unique characteristics of your team members. Tread lightly, the last thing anyone wants is to be bombarded with insensitive questions or a Michael Scott training.

Inclusion involves receiving input from your employees. Money is not the only motivation for employees to remain in an organization. Employees want to be part of a company that provides a safe space where they feel like they belong and have a voice. When you provide an inclusive environment, you are telling your employees that you care about who they are as people and that their uniqueness is valued.  Do this and you’ll be amazed at how more loyal and happy employees you’ll get.

So what happens when organizations tie all three together?

You’ll see higher morale and healthier culture. Achieving this may sound impossible or perhaps part of some fantasy, but it’s doable! Many organizations have great DEI initiatives but it takes a lot of hard work and support from the leadership team. 

If you’re ready to do something about social inequality, then check out our DEI Program. Our DEI Program is for leaders who want to foster real inclusion within their organization.


We’d be honored to help you along this journey. Contact us to see how we can support you in your journey.