The terms “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) are not just some buzzwords to include in your company profile; they should be ingrained into your company culture. Having these values will make your workforce stronger and more unified; it will also create better value for your customers and the community.
5 Reasons Why DEI is Important
- Access to more talent
There is no limit to the amount of talent you can access if you put an inclusive recruitment process. When your company has successfully integrated DEI into your culture, it will show, even to people outside of your organization—customers and job seekers. Your company image or employer brand becomes stronger and more reputable, making you a more appealing employer to job seekers from diverse backgrounds.
- Better decision-making
You’ve heard of companies losing the public’s favor due to insensitive decisions or questionable imagery. However, most of these mistakes could have been avoided if there had been better representation in the meeting room. While some may think that ideas from different perspectives may lead to discord or longer discussions, the valuable insights that companies can only get when they’ve integrated DEI into their culture will help decision-makers create well-informed decisions and avoid branding faux pas or insensitive marketing.
- Improved collaboration
True inclusion is not limited to recruiting people from various backgrounds but also results from actual work collaboration within your diverse workforce. Encourage a supportive culture that invites collaboration among cross-functional teams when inclusive collaboration is practiced regularly and with results.
- Engaged workforce
When employees truly feel like they’re part of a culture that embraces and celebrates who they are, the workplace becomes a safer and more secure environment. In addition, employees will gain even more confidence to speak up to share ideas or bring up topics that employees from other backgrounds or abilities may not have even thought of.
An equitable workplace will make everyone feel welcome regardless of their various demographics, gender, disabilities, and more. By “welcome,” we mean providing support and measures that acknowledge that the employees may have different needs that should be met so they can perform their best at work. An example would be making your office wheelchair accessible, having ramps, and reserving parking slots for people who need closer access to the entrance, like pregnant women or people with disabilities. Ideas like these may not always come up when your workforce is made up of one type or “look,” which is why DEI is essential not only at the recruitment stage but also during facilities planning.
- Social Responsibility
Last but certainly not least, as a company and a member of the community, it is only right to welcome and even proactively reach out to talent from different backgrounds and abilities. Acknowledging that your organization has a long way to go in diversity, equity, and inclusion is the first step. A way to integrate these values into your culture is to set up a team that will hold the company and its leaders accountable for any misstep and pushes for DEI initiatives that benefit the company. A company that has truly integrated DEI into its culture will help its community through inclusion and economic progress.
How to integrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into your company culture
Getting people from different backgrounds and perspectives will always be challenging at first. Companies should encourage cross-functional teamwork so employees themselves can practice inclusivity and respect for different perspectives. It would be best if you also tried to integrate cultural diversity into your employee engagement programs. This will help make employees feel seen and celebrated. Programs like these can also allow those outside certain groups to learn more about their coworkers.
Additionally, the company can ask for employee feedback on the company’s DEI initiatives. Valuable insights like these, especially when you’re still at the initial stages of building your company culture, may not be voluntary given, so make it a regular activity for the company to reach out to employees who they think proactively can represent the opinions and ideas of their specific group well.
Encourage dialogue and communication.
Build teamwork by highlighting shared goals and encouraging open communication. While having diverse opinions or perspectives may allow for better output, it can also be challenging for some teams. Some may think that their differences will make it harder for them to work together, but you must be able to highlight shared team goals to act as a bridge between diverse individuals. Furthermore, if every team member has genuinely bought into these shared goals, they will begin to appreciate discourse and diverse opinions as something positive: a means to an end goal.
Diversity and inclusivity training and sensitivity training can be excellent ways to begin conversations about potentially sensitive topics. These don’t just have to be sessions where there’s a trainer telling attendees what they can and can’t say, but an avenue for attendees to learn about their coworkers and what they can do to make the workplace a better environment.
For the employee engagement lead, it’s essential to ensure open communication between them and the employees. Create a safe space to share experiences and insights that can help integrate DEI within the company culture even better.
Walk the Talk
DEI values should be sincerely ingrained in your culture—and it must begin at the top. Leaders must also be advocates for DEI initiatives. Behavior modeling is effective in pushing for DEI within the company. Employees can be guided on how to conduct themselves at and outside of work by leaders demonstrating these values in communicating with their peers, people in the organization, and external parties.
There are multiple tactics to increase your bottom line, but those strategies may not be successful with rocky company culture. A company culture integrated with diversity, equity, and inclusion creates happy and engaged employees. And these employees are the ones who keep your business running. Happy employees mean better performance and customer service, leading to happy customers and better customer retention.