Diversity, equity, and inclusivity have been in the news a lot lately. People are fed up with the lack of diversity in the workplace and want change to happen. With a female, Black, Asian vice president in the White House for the first time in history, many are welcoming the idea of a more diverse work environment.

What can you do to champion diversity in the workplace? Will doing so really benefit your business?

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)?

In order for us to support or embrace DE&I initiatives, it’s helpful to examine our own understanding of these terms.

  • Diversity is a group that exhibits differences in relation to each other. This can mean identity, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, education, socioeconomic, and more.
  • Equity is about ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equity acknowledges that advantages and barriers exist and that there are unequal starting places, and commits to address the imbalance.
  • Inclusion is about individuals with different identities feeling and being valued and welcomed within a team or workplace.

Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace is Important

The meaning of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to employ people of various:

  • Genders
  • Races
  • Religions
  • Ethnicities
  • Ages
  • Abilities/disabilities  
  • Education
  • Countries of origin
  • Sexual orientations  

Diversity can also include life experiences, as well as cognitive approaches to tasks and problem-solving.

It is important to employ a variety of people because you get access to a broader set of opinions. Your reality is not the same as someone of another race, religion, or gender. Therefore, you will both look at a problem from different standpoints. Having multiple perspectives can help you come up with solutions that you might not have thought of on your own or when only working with people of similar backgrounds.

Additionally, equal employment opportunities allow for stronger economic growth, which is more likely to continue to grow and thrive than when only a few people have good job opportunities.

Equality in life and work can help society as a whole to prosper. People gain:

  • Independence
  • Self-respect
  • The respect of others
  • Dignity
  • Self-empowerment

But to accomplish that, the playing field needs to be leveled. While society is not there yet, it is making strides in the right direction – and your company can help by being a champion for diversity in the workplace.

How Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can Benefit Your Company

Diversity in the workplace is not just good for society as a whole – it is good for individual companies as well.  

Here are just a few ways inclusion and diversity can benefit your company:

  • Increased creativity: With so many different backgrounds, experiences, and thought processes, your team will have an even stronger creative problem-solving skillset.
  • Outperform the competition: According to McKinsey & Company, gender-diverse companies outperform their peers by 15%, whereas ethnically diverse companies do the same to the tune of 35%.
  • Better decision-making: Don’t you hate it when your blind spots get the best of you? When team members share similar backgrounds and identities, they also tend to think similarly and conform, and are more susceptible to groupthink, which can lead to poorer decisions. Fortunately, with a diverse group of people working with you, you are exposed to different perspectives, ones that can make you aware of potential blind spots. You and your team will be able to make better decisions, ones that will help your company keep a positive trajectory.
  • Increased profits: Because your diverse team makes better decisions, you will end up reaping bigger profits.
  • Improved employee engagement: What if you have a few employees of varying backgrounds but you do not have a strong diversity and inclusion program? They will feel left out. Therefore, they will engage less and will not always perform at optimal levels. However, if all your employees feel valued and included, they are more likely to engage, participate, and be motivated to work hard for the good of the whole team.
  • Reduced turnover: Again, when employees feel like they are valued not just for their skills but for who they are, they will feel a sense of loyalty to their company. If you foster a positive, inclusive environment, employees will not be quick to leave.
  • Your company will have a good reputation: A good reputation does not just come from satisfied customers – it also comes from happy employees. If you are known in the community for fostering a positive, inclusive work environment, potential employees will vie to work with you, while customers are more inclined to hire you or purchase your products.

What is a Diversity Champion?  

A champion is someone who believes in, supports, and fights for a cause. A diversity champion (or a D&I champion) is a leader within your company that supports diversity and inclusion in the workplace and who will find ways to make it happen in a way that benefits all involved.

Diversity champion role description:  

  • Promote all aspects of diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of their personal responsibility to support inclusion
  • Act as an information resource for employees who want to know more about diversity and inclusion, as well as employers, supervisors, or managers who need updates on the implementation and success (or lack thereof) of new inclusion policies
  • Attend regular events and engaging in training opportunities for updates on human rights, equality, and diversity in the workplace  

The Diversity Champion Award

The International Inclusion Award and the Diversity Champion Award are not prizes for winning a competition. The awards are merits of recognition, evidence that a company has achieved a high standard of excellence for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  

Benefits of achieving the Diversity Champion Award include:  

  • Provide you with international recognition that your company is committed to inclusion and diversity
  • Demonstrating your appreciation to your team for all they do to encourage a positive work environment and work toward better relationships and a stronger team dynamic
  • Being able to use the official award logos on your website and marketing materials
  • Create even greater awareness amongst employees of the importance of an inclusive work environment  

How to Champion Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace can benefit your company in many ways. Here are some steps you can take to become a champion of diversity in the workplace.  

Educate Yourself

Your team needs to receive training about diversity and inclusion, but it is even more important for you to learn it. You are the leader of your company, no matter its size and no matter how many supervisors or managers work under you. You are the face of your company. Employees of all levels will look to you for guidance and as an example. If you take the time to educate yourself, they will too.  

Courses on these topics will help you identify, evaluate, and learn to eliminate personal biases and discriminatory beliefs.  

Communicate Regularly and Clearly with Your Team

Simply implementing changes without discussing them with your employees can have dire consequences. When you explain to them the need for and the benefits of inclusivity, they will be more likely to accept the changes you want to implement.  

Reduce Hiring Biases

As you continue to hire, you need to be aware of hiring biases. According to Harver, a recruiting software company, there are 13 common hiring biases. The first step is to recognize that these biases exist. Only then can you reduce personal bias when hiring and add diversity to your organization.

Expand Your Definition of “Diverse”

When most people hear the word “diverse,” they think of ethnic or racial differences. While it is important to include employees of various races and ethnicities, you will also want to include those of different ages, religions, political backgrounds, appearance, education, and financial levels.  

When it Feels Like Diversity is Causing Division

It is not uncommon for people of different backgrounds to have different opinions. However, if it feels like the diversity is causing division, it is time to take a step back and reevaluate the culture of and the policies within your workplace.  

Diversity can work to everyone’s advantage, but it does not always come naturally to some people. As a business owner, it is vital to outline a plan for training employees and fostering a welcoming, caring, compassionate environment for all employees.  

If you are just starting out, you can make sure your company is one of diversity and inclusion right from the start. Employees will feel like they are part of the team no matter what their differences are.  

For established companies, implement training programs so that existing employees recognize the benefits of inclusion, both personally and professionally.  

Are you ready to add more diverse talent to your team? Contact us to learn more about finding and hiring diverse and qualified interns for your company.

Posted 
Dec 15, 2020
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