Establishing DEI, or more precisely Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs are an important part of building a company culture that works for everyone. The problem is many companies fail to integrate DEI successfully. However, DEI is no longer an option. Businesses have to be willing to put in the effort to build true DEI programs in order to thrive. More often than not, companies start a DEI initiative that may start strong but lose momentum over time. These efforts fall short for various reasons. It’s essential to address these issues to make sure that no one is left out in your company. DEI is a necessity, but companies often forget or are unaware of the many benefits of a DEI program for their business. In this guide, we will walk through what exactly it takes to cultivate DEI for your company so that it sticks.
As a business leader, you need to learn how to initiate and perpetuate DEI sustainable programs for your company to maximize your company’s impact and increase profit. Many companies try and fail to maintain DEI, but with this guide, you can implement and accelerate DEI for your company.
Many websites will throw around the term “DEI”, but what does it mean for your company? DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. These three key elements of an inclusive business are essential to ensuring the success and integrity of your company. It is important to attend to each element of DEI to reap the benefits and build a supportive workplace community.
A diverse environment brings together people that are different from one another. These differences may be social, cultural, psychological, physical, and more, and they all exist in the same space. Some expressions of diversity will be visible, and others will not. Both will be present in a diverse company. In a diverse workplace, no one is excluded based on these differences. A diverse company offers an inclusive space where everyone can thrive no matter their differences.
Equity is often confused with equality. The difference between these two concepts is important to upholding DEI for your company. Though they are similar, they are not the same, and they require different approaches and mindsets. People most often talk about equality which supposes that everyone should be treated the same and get access to the same resources. While this is a noble goal, it often falls short of the reality of different employees’ needs.
Equity is often a better fit because instead of giving everyone the same resources, each individual is given the resources they need to achieve their goals. Often, these are very different things. You wouldn’t give a painter and a veterinarian the same equipment to do their job. One or both of them would fail to complete the task at hand. The same goes for companies that hire diverse personnel. No two employees will be the same, and they should not be treated as such. Treat everyone with respect, but celebrate their uniqueness as well to create an environment in which employees can thrive. Instead, in an equitable environment, everyone gets what they need without comparing them to others.
Inclusion takes into account the way the individual feels as a part of the whole company. Whether they feel welcome, supported, and valued are all important parts of fostering an inclusive community within the broader scope of your company. Without inclusion, your company might have a diverse workforce, but not everyone feels welcome.
It is not enough to hire a diverse workforce. This is an essential step; however, the work is not over, which is why most DEI initiatives fail. It is not a simple process that can be tackled in a day. It requires more than the bare minimum to succeed. Cultivating an environment in which all ideas and persons feel included is a long process. It takes time and commitment to DEI for your company to execute fully. Though it is perhaps more complicated than expected, the extra effort will not be spent in vain. The benefits are worth the time and effort it takes to implement DEI.
Investing in DEI for your company is no longer an option. It is imperative to build a successful business. Many companies are hesitant to participate in DEI initiatives because it is a complex endeavor in which, unfortunately, many people are unwilling to participate. However, the benefits of DEI will almost certainly outweigh the costs. In order to ensure the success of your DEI program, everyone must be an active participant in the process. People within your company may have different responses to your efforts to incorporate DEI into the workplace. It could help remind them that there are many advantages to both the employees and your company to apply DEI. You can start with some of these tips.
Of course, the primary reason companies should embrace DEI is the impact they can have on society as a whole. Recent events have made it evident that DEI is essential not just to commerce but to our lives in general. It is an issue that invades many aspects of life. Therefore, it is critical to address discrimination wherever it is found. Your company has the chance to become a leader in the movement toward a better society that does not condone discrimination for any reason.
It’s true, businesses that embrace DEI often bring in higher profits. For example, among companies that promote higher levels of diversity among their management staff, they earned 38% more than their less diverse counterparts on average. While this is not the only reason to implement DEI, it is certainly a compelling reason to make DEI a company priority.
One of the reasons companies with more diversity outperform others is that they bring together people with different ideas and experiences. Inclusivity has proved a valuable tool for innovation among many companies and is one of the reasons diverse companies are more likely to succeed financially.
The value of a safe work environment that encourages respect and connection cannot be understated. When people don’t feel safe, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. That’s why DEI has led to increased productivity and a sense of community among teams in the workplace. Plus, it creates a space where employees feel a sense of psychological safety which Google’s Project Aristotle identified as one of the most important contributing factors of a high achieving team.
When a company invites different perspectives and ideas, it can innovate and reach new audiences for its products or services. Those that do not welcome diversity exclude a world of new thoughts and ideas that might never have occurred to them before. Furthermore, when deciding whether to trust a company, people want to feel recognized and see people like themselves represented in the company. When at least one person who has the same gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or culture as their target audience is included, their team has a 158% better chance of understanding their target customers, which can lead to higher reach and conversion rates.
Productivity is an essential part of reaching your business goals. One study found that participants were more productive when they participated in organizational celebrations. Several factors contributed to their increased productivity. Job satisfaction, elevated cultural awareness, and a sense of connection motivated employees to increase their productivity. When given an opportunity to build relationships with their coworkers and feel a sense of community, DEI resulted in higher productivity of the company’s employees.
Implementing DEI is a complicated process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Most companies approach DEI like a “one-and-done” activity, and this is where they typically fail. It requires commitment and continual effort to execute well. The cost of starting a DEI program is an investment that, if taken seriously, can have a number of benefits.
Classes are available for a variety of prices, from HRDQ’s “Diversity Works” course for $999 to Coursera’s “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace” course by ESSEC Business School, which can be taken for free. It all depends on your company’s needs. But don’t assume the work stops here. DEI requires focused and adaptive action to fit your employees, and this will require continuous management to uphold. Here are a few steps that will help start DEI for your company.
One of the biggest steps a company can take to introduce DEI is conducting a pay analysis. Ensuring that employees receive equal pay for equal work, along with providing equal opportunities to diverse groups is essential to establishing DEI for your company.
Many companies fall short of providing equal pay. PayScale released a survey that analyzed the discrepancy in pay between Black, Latino, and white men. They found that Latino men earned 9% less than white men while Black men were earning 13% less. People often talk about the gender pay gap, but both the gender pay gap and the ethnicity pay gap require attention to solve the problem. When taking gender into account, women earn 16% less than men for the same work. This pay gap is why DEI is essential to fostering an environment in which everyone can thrive. Conducting a pay analysis is the first step to solving the problem.
When you bring together a group of diverse employees, most people don’t know how to have an effective conversation to bridge the gap in people’s experiences. However, employees at all levels of the company must be able to facilitate quality communication so that problems can be addressed and successes can be celebrated. Furthermore, a problem can’t be addressed unless you know what it is and understands what needs to be done. The best way to do this is simply to ask your employees what they think needs improvement and where they think your company currently stands regarding DEI. They might have ideas about how to implement DEI for your company to fit your specific needs.
Employee resource groups are essential to the success of your DEI initiatives. They serve to create communities and offer a space in which employees can feel safe and be heard. This is where they can gain access to the equitable resources that your company has to offer. This can include DEI training and other courses to increase their skills and grow within the company. Most importantly, it is an open space where employees can find the support they need to succeed.
Most people will fall short of their goals if they lack one essential element: accountability. This is especially important within a business trying to incorporate DEI initiatives into the workplace because often, there is a lot of misinformation or lack of understanding to contend with. One cannot handle it alone. It is vital to the success of your DEI efforts as well as the success of your company that you be consistent and transparent.
While your DEI initiative might get off to a strong start, it is important to make sure it continues to be a part of your company in the future. Consistency will ensure that it doesn’t fizzle out over time. It requires constant moderation to make sure that it is going strong. Finally, in order to stay accountable, it is essential to be transparent in every part of the process. DEI for your company can be a learning opportunity for everyone involved, and it is important to communicate the actions and steps the company is taking to address any issues.
Implementing DEI for your company is not a “One-and-Done” task. No company can do it in a day. DEI is an evolving endeavor that has the power to transform your company’s goals and business for the better. It can be uncomfortable to talk about DEI and initiate change, but it is vital to the success of your company and will be worth it in the end. DEI initiatives take time to get off the ground. You must continually work on your company’s DEI initiatives and keep them in check in order to cultivate a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment that benefits everyone.
About the Author
K. Edwin Bryant is a highly respected senior pastor, professor and academic, published author, and corporate strategist with a passion to advocate for underrepresented communities.
Dr. Bryant has a Ph.D. from Macquarie University, Sydney, AU in Ancient History: New Testament and Early Christianity. Currently, Bryant is the COO of Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, Senior Pastor and CEO of Dayton, Ohio’s Mount Pisgah Church, chairman of the Board for Tehillah Music Group, and an adjunct professor of the New Testament & Early Christianity.
He uses his leadership and influence to pry open spaces of white privilege and create pathways of equality and belonging for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
In Dr. Bryant’s book ChaRIOT: The New Cultural Conversation, he confronts difficult conversations to help non-blacks reinterpret public responses to oppression imposed on and experienced by the black community.
Dr. Bryant currently resides outside of Dayton Ohio with his wife and children. When he’s not working on a multitude of projects or catching up on trending events; you might find him watching Netflix (especially the Blacklist) or hitting the piano inspired by artists such as Robert Glasper, Moonchild, and Corey Henry.