Top employers are raising their voices loud and clear about their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
There’s more than one reason behind this, besides an inevitable moral factor. Not only do DEI policies help attract more diverse talent by creating a richer culture, well-being, and a better climate in the workplace, but it has also been shown to boost employee performance. Companies with a more diverse and equitable workforce are more likely to achieve higher performance results and generate a greater financial return on investment (ROI) to the company.
Before we go deep into this subject, let’s make the meaning of these terms clear:
Cambridge Dictionary defines diversity “the condition or fact of being different or varied; the fact of there being people of many different groups in society, within an organization.” Although companies can have many diverse employees, diversity recruitment will only improve workplace performance if inclusion practices are also considered.
“Diversity is a numbers game; inclusion is about impact.”
Janet M. Stovall – Global Head of DEI at NeuroLeadership Institute
An inclusive environment, where politics and measures are implemented and taken, ensures that every person is taken seriously, feels respected, and benefits equally. In this sense, when all employees have the same access to opportunities and resources, that’s what we call equity.
Is There a Link Between DEI Policies and Performance? The Answer is Yes.
According to a McKinsey report, which reviewed 1,000 large organizations in fifteen different countries, the link between C-Suite diversity and financial outperformance increases over time. The research also stresses the importance of DEI as a business performance driver. In addition, it’s proven that companies and employees reap the benefits of DEI implementation.
Although companies with more gender diversity (defined as those that employ women executives) were more likely to stay above average in profitability, more than a third of the companies in the report still had no female executives. Furthermore, only 15% of the executive teams from the United States and the United Kingdom included members of racial or ethnic minorities.
Nonetheless, the pandemic positively impacted DEI in their organizations. The flexibility of a digital, remote work environment encouraged feelings of employee inclusion.
Positive Aspects of DEI in the workplace
Is DEI here to stay? Generational attitudes suggest yes. Millennials, Generation X, and Generation Z represent the largest percentage of the workforce and the consumer market. For them, DEI is not only valuable – it’s critical. Generational surveys suggest a positive environment in a diverse and inclusive workplace is imperative for incoming workers.
Here are a few consequences of implementing DEI strategies and policies in the office:
Greater Workforce Innovation
People make a company. Because of their varied origins, your personnel will inevitably bring diverse experiences, skill sets, and information. Companies can solve issues more rapidly by using a broad range of perspectives, adapting flexibly to changes, and approaching problems from different angles.
According to a business decision-making study of 200 companies by Cloverpop, 87% of positive decision outcomes come from teams with a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Better Business Performance and Better Bottom Lines
According to the Harvard Business Review, diverse teams identify new products, processes, and services that meet changing customer needs better than those that aren’t. Based on their revenue mix, the most diverse organizations were also the most innovative—companies with more diversity report 19% higher revenue than established companies with less diversity. Moreover, according to a Gartner study based on comparable data, 75% of businesses with strong DEI in their management teams will outperform their financial goals.
Access to a Larger Talent Pool and New Markets
Studies indicate that unconscious bias in employee hiring is one of the most harmful behaviors impacting diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Although not always intentional, unconscious sexism, racism, or other prejudices can reinforce status quo hiring practices.
Because of this, it’s crucial to focus on improving recruitment procedures that embody DEI practices. For example, providing unconscious bias training to recruiting staff and management can increase awareness of implicit behaviors. In addition, companies can partner with career-ready educational organizations and nonprofits to offer internships and job-hiring pathways for women, POC, and LGBTQIA+ employees.
Higher Employee Retention
People want to work for values they can relate to. When employees feel included, they will be more willing to go the “extra mile” for their company. Team morale and performance are directly affected by employee well-being. Those who work in inclusive environments have better physical and mental health and need less time off.
DEI has proven to build a safer and happier working environment. According to a 2017 Cloverpop study, employees are 9.8 times more likely to look forward to work and 6.3 times more likely to take pride in their work when they have confidence that they will be treated fairly. Furthermore, diversity and inclusivity help retain top talent while attracting more outside talent.
Stronger Brand Reputation
Embracing DEI and being known as a progressive company will get you to a broader range of customers and will help attract more potential employees from diverse backgrounds. In addition, companies have the power to spark widespread change in their industry by leading the conversation on DEI efforts.
More Diverse Decisionmaking
According to Harvard Business Review, cognitive diversity includes:
- Different problem-solving approaches.
- Opposing viewpoints.
- New ways in which people evaluate and interact with new and complex situations.
Cognitively diverse teams encourage cooperation, think outside the box, and motivate each other to challenge one another to consider the less obvious choice.
Employees from diverse backgrounds can offer fresh perspectives and ideas. This practice does not imply that you shouldn’t hire or promote people who are good at their jobs for diversity hires. Instead, committing to increasing team diversity is crucial so diverse employees can perform at a higher level and be better represented in management and C-level roles.
A lack of DEI measures in the office can directly impact your employees. For instance, workplace policies created without diversity in mind might result in more restrictive sick leave for parents with children, less inclusive bathroom signage, or failure to provide birth parents with the space and time they need for breastfeeding or breast pumping. As a result, employees may struggle to perform well during the day when their diverse needs are not considered.
DEI Recognition is Vital. What Next?
In the future, hiring employees will depend on the match between employee skills and the employer’s commitment to meeting DEI standards and policies in the workplace.
In the recruiting processes, DEI’s vision of the company should be communicated and shown effectively. For example, some companies offer testimonies in their value proposition, LinkedIn, career site, or social media.
Internally, a team that focuses just on DEI is inevitable. Human resources should ensure that measures towards the diverse groups are implemented and plan an annual strategy to impact the long term, building an inclusive and equal culture. The budget for this area is an investment.
A Few Ways to Put DEI in Action:
C-level managers should lead by example. The only way to pursue successful DEI strategies is to count on leaders that believe in them. Not only because it is “the right thing to do,” it’s the smartest.
So, what can HR do to improve its hiring practices once the company is aligned with these values? Here are a few tactics:
Be mindful of the way you choose to communicate your job offer. To reach a diverse audience, convert all job descriptions to gender-neutral language.
Encourage referrals to be as diverse as possible. If white employees represent 75% of the company, it’s likely that most of their referrals come from the same demographic environment. Stress the importance of going beyond their circle and invite them to approach with referrals beyond their circle.
Standardized interviews and blind screening. Ask the same questions the same way to everyone to help avoid unconscious bias. According to the LinkedIn Talent blog, conducting structured interviews and blind screening can minimize unconscious biases in the resumé review and “gut-feeling” hiring. These practices will eventually lead to higher-quality hires.
If DEI is Not Present, Reconsider What You Stand For
Differences in origins and background are often overlooked as abilities that may contribute to a process of decision-making. Because of prejudice or unconscious bias, employee thoughts and ideas might not be considered in the same capacity or even be “gaslit” due to preconceptions regarding race, nationality, or economic status.
Diversity should be celebrated. Celebrate the differences, celebrate every new talent that walks by the door, and celebrate different cultures. Celebration of DEI at the office creates one job worth the application. DEI might begin in the workplace, but it is also a mirror of society and what it tolerates and stands for.