What is DEI?
Although Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a hot topic of conversation today, there is no one definition of what we mean by DEI. However, we will attempt to provide our best description of DEI to help frame the conversation around this important topic.
The purpose of creating a DEI strategy is to define the short-term and long-term goals, priorities and initiatives for the organization. The process provides direction on how to achieve these objectives.
Creating a DEI internal and external statement.
Continuous DEI educational programs for the team.
A DEI Communication plan which:
Communicates the DEI mission / vision and strategy internally and externally.
Includes the onboarding process.
Defines the digital brand: DEI information on the website and in social media.
Designing a talent pipeline focused on increasing diversity in the hiring, promotion, and succession planning process.
Listing the initiatives that the firm decides to focus on (based on the survey and data collection).
Defining metrics and creating a tracking process.
So, if DEI isn’t about quotas and numbers, what are we measuring?
What are we measuring in a DEI program? It is important to recognize that all organizations are on a DEI journey, and a DEI program helps you determine where you are and where you are headed. A solid DEI program should not be punitive or shaming in terms of where an organization is today. It should outline where the organization wants to head with its DEI efforts.
Some key benchmarking measurement best practices include the following means to evaluate your organization:
What are you doing in the workplace?
What are you doing for the workforce?
What is your role related to diversity in the industry or marketplace?
How do you support DEI with your supplier community? Are you working and partnering with those that have DEI values?
The presence of “difference” within a given setting. Differences can arise in our appearances, thoughts, likes and dislikes, values, and identities. Diversity among identities may relate to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, education, marital status, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, and socioeconomic status, to name a few.
While ‘equality’ means ʻsameness,’ EQUITY means FAIR treatment, fair access, fair opportunity and fair advancement for all people. Equity is an approach that ensures everyone is supported in their personal and professional development. Unlike equality, equity does not aim to treat all individuals in the exact same way. Instead, equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist.
The act of creating environments in which people feel like they can bring their authentic selves to work. It means everyone feels valued, respected and appreciated for their unique identities, even when they’re different from others. Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution, your policies and programs are truly inviting to all. And it extends to the degree in which diverse individuals can participate in decision-making processes and development opportunities.
DEI programs, when implemented correctly and tied to an organization’s strategic and business objectives, have proven to benefit an organization’s bottom line by creating a competitive advantage in many ways:
1. Financial performance: A study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians.
2. Employer of choice: According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers view a diverse workforce as an important factor when evaluating companies and considering job offers.
3. Innovation and growth: Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies are 70% likelier to capture a new market. They’re also 45% more likely to report increased market share year-over-year.
4. Increase employee engagement: 83% of millennials report being actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive workplace culture. The percentage drops to 60% when their organization does not foster an inclusive culture.
5. Powerful decision-making: Teams that are inclusive make better decisions up to 87% of the time, according to a study conducted by Forbes.
Positive outcomes of organizations with DEI strategies include:
Diverse teams are more innovative, can solve complex problems
DEI is connected to employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention
Diversity and Inclusion impacts reputation and risk management
Corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability
Limit legal liability
Keys to Success
DEI often fails because organizations:
Recognize their workforce is not diverse, so the organization decides to recruit and hire diverse populations. But the new hires don’t last in that environment. This is typically due to lack of programs that support engagement and inclusion in the organization.
Observe and treat symptoms, yet fail to gather and review data.
Fail to assess culture and climate.
Implement tactics with no strategy, metrics or accountability.
Limit efforts to recruitment only.
Have no alignment to strategic objectives and culture.
Diversity vs. Inclusion
Who is represented in an organization? Inclusion speaks more to who is respected, expected and integrated into an institution. Diversity is like being invited to the party, while inclusion is being asked to dance. Inclusion can’t be mandated. It must be cultivated.
A quick, small act that results in a slight or indignity.
Offense is never intended.
This is not a prejudice against a group as much as it is about favoring those who are a part of “your” group.
Prejudice or unfairness directed by a system or institution (health, religious, judicial, etc.) towards individuals of an oppressed or marginalized group, whether consciously motivated or from lack of exposure to issues important to marginalized communities.
Also known as unconscious bias. Prejudice or unfairness directed by someone (a person) from a privileged group towards individuals from an oppressed or marginalized group, usually coming from a lack of exposure to issues important to marginalized communities.
The following quote from White Fragility helps us better understand the many misconceptions about the difference between DEI and Affirmative Action:
“…Affirmative action is a tool to ensure that qualified minority applicants are given the same employment opportunities as white people. It is a flexible program – there are no quotas or requirements…No employer is required to hire an unqualified person of color, but companies are required to be able to articulate why they didn’t hire a qualified person of color (and this requirement is rarely enforced). Additionally, affirmative action never applied to private companies – only to state and governmental agencies (though it can apply to private organizations contracted to do government work). Still, this program has been systemically chipped away at, and several states have eliminated affirmative action programs altogether.”
- White Fragility, p. 92