When it comes to diversity, employers are at the top of list to address concerns around diversity as well as equity, inclusion and belonging. Years of social inequality have ushered in the overhaul for a diverse, more inclusive corporate environment in all verticals. It’s important to note that being diverse isn’t about looking at metrics and ensuring a certain percentage of people are employed – it's treating everyone with an equal amount of respect and care when it comes to their expertise and opinion, regardless of looks, race, sexual orientation, or gender.
That’s where the powerful combination of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) comes into play. The benefits of a diverse workforce are undeniable: Businesses with a higher than average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues, according to a Harvard Business Review study. The numbers speak for themselves.
What is diversity and inclusion?
This guide answers the question of: “What is diversity and inclusion?” It will walk you through what it means to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace that champions a sense of belonging at work. If you’re wondering about diversity and inclusion benchmarks, we’ve got some helpful resources for you too.
Diversity then and now: An evolution
Before tackling DEIB initiatives, you must understand the terminology and why it matters:
Diversity: If you have a certain representative number of employees from various backgrounds, you have a diverse workforce. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone within it feels welcomed or valued.
Before, it used to be “enough” to have a certain percentage of diverse workers at any given company. But not only were these numbers often not met, it was rarely acted upon as a top initiative. Thankfully, that’s changing.
Equity: This is about ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities. In short, it’s about recognizing that we don’t all come from the same place and making sure that everyone, regardless of identity or financial background, has access to grow and develop. This includes the ability to be compensated fairly and equally for performing your job.
Inclusion: People should be celebrated – not separated – for their differences. To bring their unique ideas, experiences and practices to life, people need to be empowered and inspired. And to be truly effective, inclusion must be engrained and integrated throughout the entire workforce.
Belonging: Workplaces that create a culture of belonging allow their employees to thrive simply by being who they are every day.
Constantly being afraid of expressing yourself doesn’t foster a sense of creativity and innovation – especially not in the workplace. Creating social connections will strengthen everyone’s ability to communicate, get work done and enjoy each other’s company.
How do you promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Our biggest piece of advice when it comes to implementing all aspects of a modern DEIB strategy is this: Start inward at the core of your company’s values and vision and work your way outward. Employees tend to emulate what they see from executives, so aligning everyone on where you stand internally is a necessary first step before publicly declaring your stance.
As a company, simply saying you’re diverse is not enough – your company must collectively act accordingly with the values it sets forth to be a true ally. Otherwise, be categorized as a sayer, not a doer. People seek authenticity from companies. Keep in mind this permeates all interactions of the customer funnel (and candidate journey). It’s important that your intentions are backed up with action.
What are some key areas of diversity?
You’ll want to be respectful of, and account for, the following:
- Cultural background
- Physical conditions
- Genetic information
Pull existing stats
At WilsonHCG, we conducted a study around the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace: On a scale of 1-100 (with one being not important and 100 being very important), the average score was 75. This suggests that most respondents in the study do believe diversity can foster innovation.
As the saying goes, you cannot improve what you don’t measure. Start by auditing what you already have – where are the gaps or areas of improvement? From there, you can identify where inclusivity, equity and belonging could be an issue. Conduct internal anonymous surveys regularly to ask employees if they feel included (e.g., if a hard-of-hearing person feels included with captions and easy-to-access transcriptions from calls or whether there are additional languages for non-native English speakers so they feel welcome and have equal footing during important decisions in their areas of expertise).
Research from Glassdoor shows 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers. People want to be treated fairly, regardless of their religion, gender or other factors.
Collaborate on a website page or career page
According to Glassdoor research, employees have been shown to be your most valuable asset when understanding the state of DEIB at a company: Two-thirds (66%) of career seekers (and employees) say they trust employees the most when it comes to understanding the state of DEIB at a company. In other words, your inclusion statement on your careers site only goes so far.
Regardless, your company will benefit from establishing your stance on DEIB so it’s loud and clear for everyone to digest on your website.
Once you have a core message, list it on your website, career pages and on social media. Diversity drives success, after all.
Here are some things you can add to your page:
- A quote from the CEO or C-suite executives on what DEIB means to the culture of your organization
- Your company’s approach (at WilsonHCG, we use the BRITE approach, which we’ll go into more later)
- A timeline of accomplishments made regarding fostering a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace
- Top goals over the next three to five years to increase DEIB initiatives
- Any awards or recognition your organization has received around furthering diversity
- Employee testimonials from diverse individuals at all levels of your organization
- Use real photos of employees instead of stock imagery
Create employee resource groups (ERGs)
It’s that safety to express themselves that will continue to create a culture that encourages good ideas and positive change to occur. Having employee-led belonging groups (often known as employee resource groups) support collaboration and allyship within your organization. Due to many companies now being remote because of the pandemic, having a forum for employees to share their experiences with others builds rapport and fosters a sense of everyday belonging in the workplace.
Continuous training to offset unconscious bias
Everyone has unconscious bias, so it’s important for everyone to continuously be reminded through training from the top down. This ongoing reinforcement helps bring awareness and puts a stop to bias from clouding judgment while hiring new talent and other normal day-to-day activities.
Note: On September 22, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Order 13950 in America which changed what’s allowed to be discussed around unconscious or implicit bias training in certain areas. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) clarifies this meaning. We encourage you to take this order into account while looking into unconscious bias further. And, as things are likely to change, it’s important to reference the OFCCP for further questions about what’s able to be discussed in your region.
Talk about DEIB regularly
It’s essential to keep DEIB top of mind when approaching everyday projects and company initiatives. This isn’t a one-and-done initiative; DEIB is a mindset that requires continual work and diligence to be aware of. Having the transparency to ask the group: “Are we considering how we can make this more diverse and inclusive?” goes a long way. Be an advocate for all voices – even if they’re not in the room.
Understanding DEIB with BRITE
At WilsonHCG, when it comes to implementing DEIB, we take a holistic mindset through the phrase: Everyone shines BRITE (belonging, respect, inclusion, togetherness, and equity). We use this as our compass to foster an environment where all our community feels respected, safe, supported and celebrated. How does this happen? By supporting diversity programs and taking an actionable approach to help organizations address the internal and external components of DEIB.
DEIB is not a one-time initiative – it's a lifetime of educating and listening to everyone in the company to improve. Your organization needs to match what’s happening societally to reflect you hear and understand everyone’s values and needs in order to progress. From there, you can take action through coaching, mentoring and sponsoring programs and ongoing initiatives that enact real change and help level the playing field when it comes to DEIB. No effort or conversation is too small – as it can create a ripple effect and help you walk the talk.
Recruiters: Here’s how you can build diversity and inclusion into your recruitment strategy
So, how diverse and inclusive is your organization?
Having a diverse, inclusive workforce has always been necessary to foster a passionate, engaged environment that encourages people to feel safe being themselves. This drives productivity and lowers the risk of employee turnover.
If you’re interested in creating a framework for your company’s DEIB policy, subscribe to our blog for future updates.