Businesses Should Further Diversity, Inclusion & Equity. But Why and How?

Flexible work, working from home, the uberization of jobs has taken on a whole new meaning in the last 6 months and what would have taken years to come to fruition has appeared overnight, literally speaking. A global pandemic blended with the law of the land forced companies to find ways to bring the workplace to the home and this has now birthed a multitude of diversity and inclusion roles. Like in any competition, no wants to get there last and the race to become the most inclusive organization is definitely on. Hence, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are not only becoming quite fashionable in the corporate world but are also the need of the hour. Why? The inequalities of the world are being exposed more than ever and people are just not standing for it; enough is enough.

If something is important to you, you will invest in it and that’s that

DEI shows your employees that you care about something more than just doing business, it’s what you as an organization really believe in while telling the world you want to do better. One of the best ways for doing something actionable is to set aside a DEI fund so that you can really invest in this and it means something more to you than just talking about it at webinars and various virtual events. If something is important to you, you will invest in it and that’s that. Moreover, when there is a fund, it also means that your company does prioritize these values as business imperatives. 

First listen to people because you will never be able to fix something you know little of, let alone understand

One study by McKinsey revealed ‘that the overall sentiment towards diversity was 52% positive. However, sentiment on inclusion was remarkably worse at only 29% positive. This indicates that we must not only diversify our workplaces but also actively make the case for inclusion to our team members.’ The best way to do this is to first listen to people because you will never be able to fix something you know little of, let alone understand. Challenge conventional thought by inviting a diverse group of students and professionals to boost positive change. Next, make systemic changes to the workplace so that DEI initiatives are continuous rather than just a one-time affair. Finally, there must be a mechanism for accountability in place because if your initiative is not accountable, how they ever be effective?

“Inclusion is sometimes confused with diversity but they are not the same”

According to authors Alison Maitland and Rebekah Steele (Indivisible: Radically Rethinking Inclusion For Sustainable Business Results), diversity and inclusion are different but complementary. They said in an interview with Forbes magazine, ‘Inclusion is sometimes confused with diversity but they are not the same. Companies often talk about progress on inclusion by referring to numbers, such as the ratio of marginalized racial populations to white people in their workforce. These are indicators of diversity, not inclusion. Diversity is the vast mix of individual identities, talents, perspectives, and experiences in the world and the workforce. Inclusion is seizing the opportunities of that rich mix.’ 

Image credit: Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

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