DEI is an acronym for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. DEI efforts ensure that a company’s team and leadership reflect the diverse community around them, and promote a variety of voices in their organization. It refers to a company’s efforts to use the following three elements together for cultural and business success:
- Diversity: In the workplace, diversity refers to a company where all levels of the organization have team members of different genders, races, ages, sexual orientations, religions, ethnicities, abilities, relationship statuses, socioeconomic backgrounds, mental health statuses, and national origins. A diverse company reflects the customer base and local community of a company, while also breaking down barriers and prejudices.
- Equity: To build a diverse team, a workplace needs to provide proportional support for workers. This may mean making the workplace more accessible, for example, to allow workers living with a medical condition to be able to do their work effectively.
- Inclusion: Hiring a diverse team and making sure the company is fair for all is only the beginning. Companies must ensure that all workers feel welcome and supported in making a contribution. Inclusion means making sure that all employees have what they need to stay and excel in their roles.
Why Embrace DEI at Your Company?
It attracts talent
About 80% of workers say that they want to work for a company with a strong commitment to DEI. By building a DEI-oriented culture, you’re creating a workplace people will be attracted to and apply for roles at.
It improves employee engagement
Inclusion is key to employee engagement, with studies showing that when employees have a sense of belonging, companies see a 75% decrease in sick days and a 56% boost in job performance. In addition to this, employees who felt they belonged at work had a 167% increase in their promoter score, which reflects how likely workers are to mention their company in a positive way to others.
It can benefit all workers
While DEI is often associated with making the workplace fairer for groups which have traditionally been marginalized, DEI efforts can benefit all workers. For example, access ramps can help someone using a wheelchair, but also someone who is tired, injured, or simply carrying a heavy box of files. Accessible features such as voice recognition on company computers can help those living with visual impairment, but can also help all workers be more productive while reducing the risk of repetitive-strain injury.
It helps companies succeed
Companies with strong DEI commitments and strategies that result in a high level of inclusion are up to 120% more likely to reach their financial goals when compared with less inclusive companies. Diverse companies are also 70% more likely than their less-diverse competitors to capture new markets.
How Can You Implement DEI at Your Organization?
Implementing a DEI strategy means you’re not relying on luck to build a diverse team and a welcoming culture. If you’re interested in the many benefits of a DEI strategy, or if your industry is starting to seek DEI data, there are several ways you can get started:
- Get company and leadership buy-in: Leadership may need to make changes to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, and they must be part of developing a welcoming culture alongside all team members. You can use a tool like Connecteam’s training software for employees to help everyone on your team understand why you are implementing DEI ideas and what your DEI strategy will be.
- Gather metrics: Take a look at your organization to identify pain points and areas of homogeneity. Using a tool like Connecteam surveys to create anonymous surveys can help you to obtain this data. While you may think that you have a sense of your company’s diversity already, keep in mind that 10% of Americans live with an invisible disability and that half of LGBTQ+ employees are closeted at work. In addition, not all backgrounds or ethnicities are obvious, so an anonymous survey can help you determine how diverse your teams are and how your employees really feel about the supports or systems available to them. However, you must make it clear that all surveys—and sections of surveys—are to be completed on a voluntary basis, as what an employee wants to share about themselves must ultimately be their choice.
- Define DEI goals: Once you have some data, consider what goals you want to set to address any gaps you have discovered. For example, if there is less diversity in leadership than you thought, you may want to focus on adding more gender, age, or racial diversity to your leadership team as and when you have the opportunity to. Equally, you may want to encourage more diversity by assessing your hiring practices to ensure that job advertisements clearly state that you welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, abilities, and communities. You might also want to include an equal opportunities section on your application forms. During your surveys, you may find that some workers are living with hidden disabilities or other needs and don’t feel included or supported in the workplace, so your goal may be to develop resources for them.
- Consider working with DEI specialists: You can create your own DEI strategy, but getting an outside perspective can help. In addition, working with a third-party organization can help you secure DEI certification, which is awarded after you have completed DEI training and have met specific benchmarks (established by a third party) for workplace improvement. The resulting badge or certification information can be displayed on your website or annual reports as a public-facing expression of your commitment to DEI.
- Create a DEI program: Once you have clear goals, decide on the exact steps you need to take to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at your organization. Do you need to promote some workers to leadership positions within the company? Would it be beneficial to offer townhall meetings to allow everyone to brainstorm ways to be more inclusive?
- Investigate all parts of your organization with a DEI lens: Examine all your processes as well as your company values, mission, and purpose to make sure they encourage rather than counter your DEI efforts. Consider your consultants, partners, vendors, suppliers, and other business contacts. Do they also reflect your DEI efforts?
- Measure your progress: Take periodic surveys to track whether workers are more diverse and whether they feel more supported and engaged.
What Can You Change to Improve DEI?
When you are creating a DEI strategy, there are several things you can do to make your workplace more attractive to all workers. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these ideas:
- Change your hiring and recruitment approach: If your job candidates and hires tend to have little diversity, be strategic about posting on job boards and working with recruiters who have a focus on diverse candidates. Comb through your job ads to filter out any ableist, ageist, and other biased language. Most of all, when hiring new employees, consider what each candidate brings to your team rather than a specific role. Seek out candidates who offer fresh perspectives and fit well with your culture.
- Change your employer branding: Look at your company website and social media presence as well as your ads and public-facing documents. Do the photos you use show a diverse range of people? Is your writing warm, human, and welcoming? Do you make it clear that you’re committed to DEI?
- Offer work flexibility, if you can: With about 81% of Black knowledge employees preferring hybrid work models and a majority of employees living with disability preferring work-from-home arrangements, flexible workplaces can help attract and retain more diverse workers.
- Offer mentorships and other resources: Women and diverse employees are more likely to say that mentorships have had a significant, positive impact on their careers than their white, male counterparts. Mentorships can help workers overcome barriers in the workplace and gain one-on-one training and support. Another option is an employee resource group (ERG). ERGs are volunteer-led workplace groups that are based on shared employee characteristics. These groups meet regularly to provide career and personal development opportunities as well as additional support.
DEI and Your Workplace
DEI helps make sure all workers have opportunities to grow and to belong to a company culture. By starting with employee-shared data, you can create a custom DEI strategy that’s right for your company culture.