DEI is not a single do it once and check it off the list sort of deal.
The workplace has changed and is continuing to change in the way we communicate from corporate culture to how we do our jobs on a day to day basis. It feels as if the pace is only increasing while new technologies and life events only get added to the mix. That is why it is paramount that companies innovate their diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.
Despite the refreshed energy towards DEI, there is a noticeable lack of clarity about each of these terms. So, let's take some time to break these down.
Diversity: all the ways in which people differ.
Equity: fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement where one's identity cannot predict one's outcome.
Inclusion: a variety of people have power, a voice, and decision-making authority.
Why DEI matters
We tend to relate DEI to physical, visible differences, however, that excludes mindful diversity of thought.
Diversity allows for different perspectives to directly influence a product or service. Down to how it's made, how it functions, and so on. More perspectives make better products and services because people from different backgrounds with varying life experiences will be able to provide new perspectives that shape, refine, and enhance processes.
This means that there is a level of innovation that DEI contributes to. Each person brings a unique lens to their job that enables them to approach problems differently and therefore lead to unique solutions to problems. There is a direct relationship between the diversity of voices in your organization and your business outcomes.
Equity takes into account that not everybody is starting from the same level. Some people experience limitations and barriers that give rise to advantages and leads to inequitable processes.
This can lead to qualified applicants to not submit their application because they feel they cannot check every box. For example, use specific areas of experience or scope instead of years of experience. Substitute "experience managing projects autonomously" instead of "5-7 years of experience."
Inclusion goes beyond professionalism and etiquette. An inclusive culture allows individuals to be themselves. This feeling of inclusion is what maintains diversity. Without it, employees will simply leave the organization.
Additional things to consider are that marginalized individuals want to know that they're not going to be the token person to represent a demographic. They shouldn't have to worry about that in the workplace, they should instead be focused on how they're going to have an impact within the community.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion involves BOTH the ethical and moral rationale for incorporating across an organization as well as the business imperative. After referencing various professionals and attending diversity events I came to the conclusion that integrating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion requires the adherence to a few principles.
These principles are:
-DEI is not a one and done checkbox. It takes hard work and need to be practiced by everyone to be implemented.
-DEI is not only the right thing to do, but there is a clear business imperative.
-DEI practices and culture factor in to prospective employees' decisions into whether or not they join a company.
-A DEI culture where everyone feels like they belong does take everyone.