It’s likely you’ve heard the term DEI enough to know it refers to diversity, equity, and inclusion. At one point it was just a group of buzzwords with little contextually relevant meaning to most organizations except for a bit of lip service. It’s since gained significance, both for its enrichment of the workplace and its contribution to organizational success.

DEI: What exactly is it?

That begs the question – what really is DEI?

It’s a broad term encompassing the presence of social and cultural differences in the workplace and the means of removing barriers through organizational policies to encourage representation. Diversity and inclusion are often treated like they’re one and the same, but let’s set things straight:

  • Diversity is the existence of differences in the workplace that can include race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and dis/ability, to name a few
  • Equity is employing fair and just workplace practices to ensure everyone has access to the same opportunities
  • Inclusion is the extent to which the people in your organization feel welcome, respected, and part of the larger group

In theory, and in practice, each principle should be enough in its own right. Right? Well, you’d be surprised. Realizing the full potential of these principles involves a willingness to strategize and collaborate to develop a comprehensive and cohesive DEI strategy within your organization.

Why it matters

We’ve broken it down to each individual piece, and that’s where a lot of companies get stuck. They’ll hire a few women and people of color, and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. It isn’t enough to hire diversely yet neglect to develop a supportive environment where differences are uplifted. That’s a recipe for dissatisfaction – not just for your disenchanted employees, but for you and your organization. Because here’s the kicker – employees recognize when they’re dealt the bare minimum. If they’re hired merely for show, it’s reasonable to expect that effort and performance won’t be up to par.

That’s just one reason, among the many merits discussed below, why DEI procedures in the workplace are so important.

Better performance

Programs that promote inclusivity produce happier, satisfied employees who experience increased job involvement and engagement, in turn leading to better performance. It’s a win-win situation; organizational goals are met with renewed fervor, and employees thrive in a warm, diversity-rich climate.

More innovation, more creativity

If your workforce comprises individuals from all walks of life – in cultural and social characteristics, in education – expect to watch your company innovate and grow. Your people’s diverse experiences are an integral part of decision-making and problem-solving. Bringing different, sometimes minority perspectives to the table and giving each voice the opportunity to be heard opens the door to more creative solutions, and less go-with-the-flow groupthink ideas.

Attracting top talent

Now more than ever, employees seek inclusive work environments that value diversity in a meaningful way. That means a determining factor of an organization’s attractiveness is the presence of DEI policies, thus lending itself to a larger pool of qualified candidates – if a talented individual is debating between two job offers, diversity may just be the tipping factor towards one or the other.

Outperforming

A McKinsey & Company study shows that companies with demonstrated diversity experience positive financial results and bring in more customers. Greater representation is a predictor of outperformance in profitability compared to peer organizations.

Undoubtedly, prioritizing DEI improves the culture of your workplace, the qualities of potential hires, and the gratification of your employees. Now that you know the benefits, it’s time to implement.

Developing and implementing a DEI action plan

It won’t happen overnight, but if you want to see positive improvement, intention is only half of the equation.

At Avanti, we’re dedicated to DEI initiatives that bring about effective change, such as hiring without bias and sharing information with underrepresented groups. Here are a few key strategies for cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in your workplace:

It starts at the start – with recruitment

Erase the bias in your recruitment process – there’s always room for improvement.

  • Standardize the interview process so each interviewee is held to the same list of criteria, and qualified individuals face the same likelihood of being selected for subsequent steps. All Avanti candidates undergo an identical interview process
  • Display salary ranges in job postings. It reduces the interviewer's unconscious biases, and allows interviewees to enter the process with an idea of what to expect

Promoting opportunities to underrepresented groups

Open up your recruitment channels so that underrepresented groups such as minority races or individuals with disabilities can access the same opportunities as their more advantaged peers.

At Avanti, we’re committed to sharing opportunities as they arise with underrepresented groups, through our partnerships with organizations such as Chic Geek, Calgary Youth Employment Centre, Calgary Immigrant Women's Association, Immigrant Services Calgary, In-TAC, and budding relationships with organizations like ICON Talent Partners.

Start networking so you don’t limit the reach of your offered opportunities, making them available to a diverse group of individuals.

In the day-to-day

It’s one thing to promise diversity and inclusivity at the recruitment stage, but deliver through on that promise in the workplace.

  • Enlist DEI consultation. It’s not up to the minority employees in your company to educate their coworkers or leaders about how they can best be supported. Let a professional expert with the right resources handle the effort involved
  • Actionable practices. As the age-old adage goes, don’t just talk the talk without walking the walk. Create an inclusive culture that everyone is comfortable participating in, whether that means hosting multicultural events or attending pride rallies as a team
  • Be transparent. Don’t be shy about letting your employees know about your DEI objectives or why a certain program has been implemented. Really listen to them – are the programs meeting their intended goals? Request, and then adapt to their feedback

DEI is not a complicated concept, but its positive impact at every level of the organization is undeniable. While there’s no universal strategy that will work best for every company, these tips are a surefire way to get started. Putting diversity, equity, and inclusion into action requires a thorough overview of your own company, identifying areas that are lacking, and developing a DEI approach that will put your employees and workplace environment at the forefront. Put in the work, and reap the benefits.

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