And why does it matter?
Companies often approach ppl stuff to support with their DE&I strategy. Typically, this is a new endeavour for most smaller organizations but they know it's important. They're right! DE&I is an incredibly important focus for all organizations, and initiatives will be even more impactful when implemented from the start. That being said, DE&I is a broad, complex subject and no company can take a one-size-fits-all approach. There needs to be buy-in, research and thoughtful discussion around culture and core values to make DE&I a sustainable, authentic practice organization wide.
So, what even IS DE&I?
DE&I stands for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Diversity refers to the makeup and characteristics of various identities within an organization, usually referring to typical identity markers such as race, gender, sexual orientation etc.
Equity refers to the fair and equitable treatment of all people, including the professional advancement, pay and treatment of historically marginalized groups.
Inclusion refers to the feelings and culture of belonging cultivated by an environment of psychological safety, support and trust.
The fact is, many organizations believe that the road to having a strong DE&I "program" starts with simply hiring more diverse talent. Yes, this is an important initiative, and focus and investment should be placed on diverse recruitment. However, if an organization doesn't have an inclusive culture or equitable systems to begin with, how will a diverse workforce be sustained in the long run? We recommend speaking with a DE&I strategist to first discuss things like: policy revamps, data audits, education and training, recruitment processes, engagement surveys and assessment of psychological safety, before or while investing in diversity hiring.
So....why should I care about DE&I?
Based on research from Cornell University, when feelings of inclusion are strong, organizations can expect the following outcomes:
AT THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL:
Feelings of psychological safety, leading to safe risk taking
High degree of interpersonal and cultural competencies
Increased engagement, job satisfaction & commitment
Enhanced mental and physical well being
AT THE TEAM/GROUP LEVEL:
Status and/or level differences are minimized
Fewer inter-team conflicts
Stronger group bonding, communication and cohesion
Higher engagement with innovative & collaborative decision making
Higher team performance against targets and KPIs
AT THE ORGANIZATION - WIDE LEVEL:
Increased market share due to positive community reputation
Higher employee retention rates
Success recruiting and retaining diverse talent, adding to the strength of the workforce and increased representation
How do I know if we're doing it right?
DE&I is an ongoing process of learning, assessment and change. Organizations are never "done" - it is a series of ongoing initiatives, systems and best practices that create a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment.
If you're wondering where to start, think about how employees might begin naturally assessing their company's DE&I position. Employees will naturally begin thinking about:
DE&I Policies and Best Practices (implicit or explicit)
Mission, Purpose, Core Values statements
Formal and informal communication from senior leadership/HR
Available reporting, internal data and statistics
Anecdotal feedback from peers and colleagues
Visible makeup of the workforce (beyond entry level)
Now, as an employer or HR practitioner, ask yourself to what extent:
Does management "walk the talk"?
Do company actions match its communication?
Does the organization follow and enforce policy?
Are there company systems in place to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion? Are those systems built by a diverse group of employees from all backgrounds?
Does the company follow through internally with what they say externally? (public vs internal image)