What Do Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Really Mean In The Workplace? A Comprehensive Look

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Diversity, equity and inclusion are buzzwords that have been popping up more and more in the workplace. Everyone’s talking about it, but what does it really mean? Here’s a quick breakdown:

Diversity is more than the mere act of being different. It’s about respecting, valuing and celebrating differences. Diversity isn’t about quotas or sameness; it’s about normalizing difference so that all voices are heard, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation and ability.

Equity is about fairness. Equity is about everyone having the same access, opportunity and treatment. For example, if you are being paid less than someone else because of your gender, race or sexual orientation, then that’s not equitable. Equity also means having a voice in workplace decisions like policies and procedures. It’s important to have diverse voices at every level of an organization so that everyone feels included by those who are making decisions on behalf of their workplace

Inclusion is about creating a workplace where everyone can succeed. It’s about making sure that everyone is valued and respected. And it’s about creating a workplace where everyone can bring their full selves to work each day.

Diversity Equity and Inclusion are more than buzzwords – they can be part of real change in your organization.

So what does it really mean to be “Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive”?

DEI is all about change in mindset. Change in leadership. Change in visibility. Change in equity. And ultimately change in opportunity. DEI is not one thing – it’s a series of initiatives that will bring about fundamental cultural shifts within our organizations and communities at large. It means challenging yourself to think differently about the world around you – and how we can work together to make it better for everyone. It also means challenging ourselves to think differently about ourselves; who we are as individuals, what our value systems are, where we come from and how those things impact us both personally and professionally.

DEI requires real change at the top.

DEI is not just about engaging in the right conversations, it’s about actually doing something. The first step is changing how you see diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s not a box to check or a list of initiatives that can only be achieved with the help of consultants. DEI is about leadership—leadership from those at the top who need to set the tone, agenda and example for everyone else in their organization by being visible as well as inclusive themselves. It’s also about making sure the top levels of leadership within an organization hold diverse identities and perspectives. 

The point of diversity, equity and inclusion is visibility.

Visibility is critical for all people in an organization because it makes them feel included and valued. Normalizing otherness is the first step toward eliminating it. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is not about creating a fun atmosphere for your employees; it’s about fostering authentic connections that yield meaningful outcomes, but it’s ok to have fun too!

DEI in the workplace is a process, not a destination.

DEI is a process, not a destination. You will never be done with DEI. You will always be learning, adapting, and improving your DEI practices. That’s the beauty of it: you can’t ever stop working on your DEI because it isn’t something that happens once or even twice—it’s something that you do every day as an organization and as individuals within organizations. However, you certainly can measure your progress in the process by identifying measurable goals, and objectives within a given timeframe.

DEI Best Practices

The following are a few best practices to consider as you work to create an inclusive environment in your organization:

Develop a DEI policy. You should develop a DEI policy that articulates your commitment and strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The policy should clearly outline the organization’s commitment to achieving its mission using fair hiring practices and by providing equitable opportunities for all employees regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or any other legally protected characteristic.

Hire diverse talent. When hiring for positions at all levels within your organization’s structure make sure you have an active recruitment process that includes: advertising vacancies both internally and externally; focus on employment branding; provide opportunities for candidates who are underrepresented in your industry; ensure that job descriptions accurately reflect the qualifications needed for each position before posting online; make sure that recruiters diversify the places where jobs are posted, and the industries from which they typically source; train recruiters to look for transferable skills that will add value to the organization based on current gaps and business needs, rather than sourcing for similarities and likenesses based on personal preferences (i.e. minimum years of experiences or undergraduate degree) – avoid exchanges that would leave an applicant feeling that their background wasn’t valued because someone did not select them based solely off stereotypes surrounding demographics rather than actual ability.

What can you do to further DEI efforts

You’re here. You’ve read this far, and you’re still committed to improving your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Now, what?

Here are five things you can do right now to further DEI efforts:

  1. Make sure your leadership team is diverse. Your management team should be representative of your organization and its employees. This ensures that everyone is heard when it comes to decisions about policies or practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also provides a diverse perspective on how these issues affect the workplace culture at large.
  2. Make sure your leadership team is inclusive. Inclusion means that there are no barriers – whether real or perceived – that prevent anyone from participating in the decision-making process because of their age, gender identity/expression and/or disability status.
  3. Make sure your leadership team is visible. Visibility refers not only to being seen by others but also having a voice in discussions about issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organization.
  4. Make sure your leadership team is accountable. Accountability means taking responsibility for one’s actions as well as those of others who report directly to them; creating opportunities for feedback so improvements can be made when needed; acknowledging mistakes made (whether by oneself or another) without fear of retribution; acting with respect towards all individuals regardless of race/ethnicity; gender identity/expression; sexual orientation or any other category protected under relevant federal law.
  5. Make sure your leadership team is transparent. Transparency involves making equitable decisions instead of personal connections between individuals involved. Transparency also means being open about any challenges faced by an individual member within a group environment where several voices may collide during meetings–thereby creating false impressions about their motivations behind certain behaviors which might seem unfair if left unchecked.

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