What Does Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Look Like?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become increasingly popular this year. They are a company’s mission, strategies, and practices to support a diverse workplace. When we think of diversity and inclusion, most people attribute diversity to gender, age, and ethnicity (inherent diversity traits) that people are born with. Pursuing a workplace culture that embodies diversity and inclusion involves both inherent and acquired diversity. Acquired diversity are the traits you gain from your own personal experiences. These two dimensions of diversity are critical to incorporate and prioritize in your business. Inclusion in the workplace however, means creating an environment that is collaborative, supportive, and one which embraces individual differences.
Traditional DEI Training Initiatives
In most orientation processes, we are used to seeing corporate training on diversity and sensitivity. This training has long been a staple within the onboarding process at both large and small organizations. For this reason, it may come as a surprise that it’s ineffective. Research has shown that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training doesn’t affect change within a workplace, especially among underrepresented groups.
Why Doesn't Traditional DEI Work?
Unfortunately today, managers implement DEI training as a means of protecting the company. Organizations aim to portray a sense of responsibility, in addition to protecting themselves against potential legal issues.
It is important to keep in mind that personal and implicit biases are very difficult to change. Using short one-time training programs have little effect on these biases. So why do these initiatives continue to be so popular? Largely because these training sessions are cheap, and companies don’t understand the benefits of a longer DEI program. While they may be affordable, traditional programs have negative outcomes when it comes to long term behaviours.
While many companies have announced their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, the numbers report otherwise. At Facebook, the number of black and latinx workers increased by a mere 2% per group from 2014 and 2020. Similarly, at Google, there are only 5 black female executives amongst 357 executives in 2018.
When it comes to DEI, companies cannot release statements about rectifying internal bias without truly prioritizing it internally. Surface work just doesn’t cut it when it comes to bias training. Rather, this should be a continuous and intentional effort on the part of the organization.
Diversity and inclusion is Crucial For Success
A diverse workforce contributes to a positive environment, in turn encouraging a global perspective. Together, these lead to greater benefits for both the employees and the organization. Companies with more diversity performed 35% better than companies with a staff demographic that matched the national average.
A diverse and inclusive workforce can contribute to a sense of trust and belonging in the work environment. This extends to create many other advantages such as higher employee engagement, productivity, and reduced conflict, to name a few. Employees also feel happier, more productive, and possess a higher affective commitment as a result of this perceived social support. This in turn helps retain employees and top talent.
As mentioned before, there are two types of diversity which include inherent diversity and acquired diversity. This 2-D diversity, when seen in organizations, is associated with positive outcomes such as improved innovation and performance. This is due to the fact that all ideas are heard and supported, leaders value individual differences, and diverse mindsets bring variety to the drawing board. Companies who demonstrate 2-D diversity are 45% likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year. In addition, they are 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.
7 Ways to Take Action
1. Make DEI the Forefront of your Business Strategy
DEI isn’t just about hiring and retaining a diverse range of people. Diversity requires the continued support of employees – which changing your core culture can accomplish. Incorporating DEI into your business strategy and organizational activities are the best ways to achieve these initiatives.
2. Read Up on the REAL Approach
The REAL approach is based on a four step process: Reveal Relevant Opportunities (1), Elevate Equity (2), Activate Diversity (3) and Lead Inclusively (4). This means that leaders across multi-functional levels in an organization need to grow their toolkit to both identify bias and help foster relationships and ally ship with their teams. This is a great article on the four step approach.
3. Language Training
Language used within an organization is a critical component of inclusivity. When inclusive, languae can make your employees feel valued and respected. Inclusive language should always be respectful, accurate, and relevant; it requires showing respect for all members of the workplace. In addition, care must be made to reflecting social diversity and avoid perpetuating stereotypes and false assumptions.
4. Consistency is Key
As we’ve mentioned before, DEI should not simply be a one-time training session. Diversity and inclusion is a continuous process, so it’s important to regularly report on DEI initiatives by making it an agenda item on team meetings.
5. Culture Add vs Culture Fit
6. Collect Candid Feedback
How can you see if your efforts are truly effective? By collecting feedback from your current employees. Your team must be able to witness the results of your actions and so, ask for feedback on DEI initiatives consistently.
7. Build Your Toolkit
Discriminatory practices and attitudes are embedded into certain corporations, and may be difficult to eradicate. One training session isn’t going to fix the issue, it is an intentional, mindful, and continuous process. Moving forward, it is important to understand and to listen to your employees about what it means to be inclusive within the workspace. Take these perspectives, apply them, and learn from your experiences to make your organization’s DEI practices more than just policies.
At CloudAdvisors, we believe in the advocacy of minority groups year-round: it lives in our values as we work to support Canadians in all walks of life and in all career paths. Regardless of one’s sexual orientation, race, language, gender, or history – no one should be held back from their dreams and aspirations. We hope to continue the conversation surrounding DEI and to use our voice through our upcoming webinars and interviews to highlight issues that need to be addressed, as we continue to advocate for them. CloudAdvisors has been driven by values of diversity and inclusion, and we do realize we can do better by continuing to learn and grow our ability to support diverse communities.