Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion
DE&I isn’t a new thing, but it’s being looked at in a whole new way, and organisations that really get to grips with DE&I will be the ones still standing in a hundred years.
Here we break it down and explore the benefits of implementing real-world DE&I initiatives, both for the betterment of society, and for the success of organisations who embrace our natural diversity, deliver equity of opportunities, and foster a culture of inclusion to enable environments befitting our multi-cultural world.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been around for a few decades, but emerged recently as a hot topic, with consumers, investors, and increasingly with clients demanding that companies act in a way that goes beyond box ticking and actively serves their communities and stakeholders with genuine ethical actions. Words are no longer enough. Society expects more from its leaders, especially those leaders running the organisations outside of political domains.
Diversity: This is who is represented within the workforce on a number of dimensions, like age, gender, race/ethnicity and cultural background, sexual orientation, disability and, increasingly, neurodivergence. Diversity within an organisation is easily measured, benchmarked and tracked. Equity: This is not to be confused with equality, as equity takes into account every person’s individual needs and circumstances when dictating practices and social norms. Equality, on the other hand, assumes the same treatment for everyone which is not, by definition, always equitable. Inclusion: This is how the workplace is experienced internally by employees, particularly in relation to their sense of belonging and ability to make meaningful contributions.
Talent and clients are voting with their feet, and inclusion has emerged as a key differentiator, with a shift in focus from the characteristics of the employee (diversity) to the characteristics of the workplace, and an organisation’s culture (inclusion).
DE&I Initiatives Drive Profitability
Apart from making your organisation a better place to work, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion actions drive above-average performance and profitability. There is mounting evidence that a diverse and inclusive workforce adds value by positively affecting organisations’ financial performance, with data from 2019 highlighting that companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity in executive teams are 25% more likely to show above-average profitability than companies in the fourth-quartile (up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014).
The greater the degree of diversity, the better the results, and the results are even stronger when it comes to diversity in ethnicity and race, where the top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth-quartile one by 36% in profitability.
Diversity improves the quality of decision making by increasing access to a greater variety of views and opinions, enhancing problem solving skills, creativity and vision, which also increases resilience in the face of adversity, and a greater representation of certain groups is likely to yield better customer insight and innovation.
And here’s the really powerful bit: diversity coupled with a sense of inclusion, is linked to a strong sense of employee motivation and satisfaction, and we all know a happy workforce is a productive workforce.
Inclusion Is Diversity’s Multiplier
While a diverse workforce brings different perspectives and experiences, it’s how individuals feel valued and heard that unlocks true potential. Inclusion, not just diversity, makes them feel like they can contribute their unique talents to the team’s success.
While data that benchmarks and tracks organisational diversity through a variety of indicators is important, the idea that you can increase diversity and automatically improve financial performance is misleading. You can’t turn a cake into a cheesecake by simply adding cheese – you need to carefully choose your ingredients. Unless individuals feel heard, genuinely valued for their differences, and trust that they are able to meaningfully contribute to discussions and decision making processes within the workplace, putting a diverse group of people together may do the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, instead creating tensions and misunderstandings.
So if you really want to succeed in implementing your diversity, equity, and inclusion plans, you should be aiming for inclusion that is underpinned by an authentic desire to create an environment that delivers equity, removes barriers to advancement, encourages people to listen and share, and where differences are celebrated and baked into your organisational culture.
Related Articles on Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion
What Makes An Inclusive Leader?
Building a Positive Workplace Culture: The Key to Achieving Your Goals
Change Management vs Change Leadership
Related Podcast Episodes
Nadya Powell - Successfully Embedding DE&I Into Your Organisation Part 1
Nadya Powell - Successfully Embedding DE&I Into Your Organisation Part 2
Carla Miller: Equality and Inclusion For Women in the Workplace
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