Recent cultural shifts show that Americans value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I or DEI) more than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends 7.6 hours a day at work (either in person or online), and employees expect their workplaces to reflect their newfound (or newly invigorated) appreciation for DE&I.
The good news for business owners is that prioritizing DEI in the workplace has been proven to increase revenue, speed up innovation, and create a work environment in which people feel safe and respected. But prioritizing these things is a multifaceted process that requires a detailed strategy and a fundamental understanding of what DE&I looks like in the workplace.
What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are buzz words that most hiring managers and HR reps have heard a million times before. But how do these terms relate specifically to the workplace? Let’s start with diversity.
Diversity is more than just variety. Diversity in the workplace is an ongoing process. It requires a conscious effort on the part of the hiring manager, as well as an unbiased approach to decisions regarding salary, promotions, office assignments, and every other area of workplace management.
Equity Among Employees
In the business world, equity is typically used to refer to the assets or capital that is owned or invested by a company. In regards to DEI, however, equity simply means to be equitable. In other words, to be fair and impartial. An equitable hiring manager would take into account the differing life experiences of candidates during every step of the process, from writing the job description to conducting interviews. For example, when posting a job opportunity on an online forum, an equitable approach would be to make sure the posting is accessible in a number of different languages, not just English.
Inclusion: The Building Block of DEI Implementation
Lastly, there’s inclusion. Alphabetically, inclusion comes last on this list, but for a hiring manager, it should be the first priority. Not only is inclusion a precursor to diversity, but it’s also the best way to create a safe environment in which employees feel heard and respected. In turn, this could lead to stronger team relations and higher levels of employee retention.
The Benefits of DEI
There are many benefits—fiscal and otherwise—to implementing a DEI strategy into your business and hiring practices, but here are five of the most important ones for hiring managers to keep in mind:
Diversity and Inclusion have been linked to increases in productivity and profits.
- Studies show that the more inclusive a company is, the more likely it is that company will reach its financial targets by up to 120%.
- The same study found that companies which employed men and women in equal numbers produced over 40% higher revenue and companies with racial diversity were 35% more likely to perform at a higher level.
Diverse companies are a better representation of real world demographics, meaning they may be more attractive to potential clients, investors, and customers.
- What’s better than guessing at the needs and wants of your clients or investors? Actually knowing what they want, but in order to do that, you have to build a team of diverse people with backgrounds and experience that stretch well beyond the walls of your office space.
Workplaces with higher levels of diversity are more innovative.
- In order to bring about a variety of ideas, you need a variety of people. According to data pooled from the London Annual Business Survey, companies that had more diversity in their leadership teams were more likely to develop new products than their non-diverse counterparts.
DEI Initiatives help employees feel safe, respected, and connected.
- It’s no secret that workplace satisfaction is one of the most important factors when it comes to maintaining employee retention. But how can a worker feel satisfied with their job if they don’t even feel safe at work? How can your employees thrive if they don’t feel respected?
- Creating a safe and cohesive work environment requires more than just a stocked break-room and a suggestion box. It requires hiring strategies that promote diversity and inclusion. It requires equitable opportunities and chances for employees from all walks of life to feel seen, heard, and respected.
- “Disparities in the employee experience represent real, and potentially significant, differences in the way workers approach their jobs and their teams.” Natasha Jamal and Teresa Tschida from Gallup
DEI Improves Corporate Reputation
- In the digital age, corporate reputation is more important than ever. Companies with a good reputation for DEI attract more talented workers, larger investors, and life-long customers. Corporations are being held to an increasingly higher standard, and incorporating DEI best practices is essential to keeping up with the culture.
- Responders from a survey conducted by Have Her Back Consulting Firm agreed that the two most important issues companies should be addressing were: unequal opportunities and unequal pay. In other words, when it comes to your company’s reputation, social media posts and newsletters are nothing compared to real changes made in hiring, promotion, pay, and workplace culture.