Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Why it Matters at Work
Creating a workforce where everyone, regardless of their background, ethnicity, political views, religion, interests, or sexual orientation, has equal opportunity to contribute and benefit, is one of the best things that can ever happen to any company. Imagine a Justice League without Barry Allen, because he was just too young to be on the team. Let’s not talk about the color of Victor Stone’s skin or the fact that Aquaman was even half-human and half Atlantean.
It’ll take some serious effort to actually focus on these differences because their strengths and contributions to the team are indispensable. Clark Kent may be a Kryptonian — an alien if you choose — but he’s the only one powerful enough to stand toe-to-toe with Darkseid, another alien. Recognizing people’s strengths regardless of who they are is not turning a blind eye to their individual differences. Rather, it is recruiting them and giving them an equal chance to contribute because of their differences. This is what diversity, equity, and inclusion aim to achieve in any workplace.
Recent Findings Reaffirm the Importance of Diversity and Inclusion at Work
According to McKinsey & Company’s recent report on the issue of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Diversity wins: how inclusion matters, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to record above-average revenues than companies in the fourth quartile — up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. In other words, the more diverse and inclusive an organization’s leadership is, the more productive and profitable the company is likely to be. As a result, the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace has gained even more popularity.
From our research on the subject, we’ve found that the degree to which a company experiences employee churn or retention takes strong roots in the company’s position on diversity, equity, and inclusion. When employees don’t feel that their ideas, presence, or contributions are valued where they work, chances are, they will leave soon enough. Unfortunately, you may lose your best talents before you even realize it. Put another way, building an inclusive and diverse workplace will not only help you attract the best talents but will also help you keep them.
Business executives and HR leaders are already overwhelmed with the extra call for leadership during these trying times, but beyond keeping their workers safe, they must also strive to create an enriching work environment for employees. Otherwise, there will be no one left for them to lead.
What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?
A lot of companies already have a diverse and inclusive workforce, but research shows that the greater the representation, the higher the likelihood that such companies will outperform their peers in the industry. The government equality recognizes this and has enacted employment laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin, creed, gender, and religion, thereby encouraging diversity in the workplace.
Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity refers to a situation where a company’s workforce includes team members from various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, political, and cultural backgrounds. You may not be a fan of DC Comics, but let’s think about our Justice League analogy once more;
Wonder Woman is an Amazonian, Bruce Wayne is a Billionaire Vigilante from Gotham city, Superman is an orphan from Krypton, The Flash is the talkative forensic scientist from Starling City who couldn’t wait to fight alongside Batman and Superman, and Aquaman is a man still battling with his identity; but together, they all make an invincible team of superheroes — strong enough to defend earth against any extraterrestrial or local attack.
If there’s any way to paint diversity and strength, then that is one. HR executives must realize that team members will have various lifestyles, backgrounds, experiences, skills, abilities, perspectives, and interests. But what makes the team really great is when leaders can identify and harness the team members' individual strengths towards achieving a common cause.
Equity means every individual has an equal chance to add value to the organization. If your company has an equal number of women and men in the organization, but only has men in leadership positions, equity is lacking in that workforce. If the company is open to recruiting people from all over the world, but only allows a particular group of people to become part of leadership because of their origin, equity is lacking as well.
Whether it’s in hiring, promoting, or taking advantage of learning and development opportunities, equity advocates for a fair chance for all individuals, regardless of gender, sex, race, background, religion, or political views. Studies have shown that employees are willing to give their best when they know that they have a fair chance of growing, just like anyone else. McKinsey reported in 2019 that companies with more than 30% women executives were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives or none at all.
Inclusion is similar to diversity but is different in meaning. An inclusive company has diverse people equally represented in decision-making, leadership, business activities, benefits, and development opportunities. Such organizations have policies that encourage everybody to get involved, learn and grow, be empowered, and lead. When the workforce is inclusive, leaders and team members are open-minded and welcome everyone’s perspectives. For instance, beyond the adequate representation of employees of color in the workforce by proportion, do they have equal chances as the others at climbing the corporate ladder or functioning in other departments? Are their opinions welcomed in decision-making meetings?
This is key to retaining promising talents on the team. Everyone loves to be heard. Employee morale drops when they realize that their voices don’t matter. Innovation and creativity go out the window too. A team where only the perspectives of certain groups or persons are valued despite the presence of several other genders, races, and sexual orientations, and identities, is only diverse and not inclusive.
Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce
President Biden signed an Executive Order to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal workforce. This Executive Order serves to reaffirm the United States’ strength when the Nation’s public service reflects the full diversity of the American people and perpetuates the ambitious adoption of this culture in public and private service.
The Executive Order recognizes the presence of discrimination and under-representation of underserved communities and minority groups in government. It establishes that the government and society are more effective and thriving when the federal workforce reflects diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility at all levels.
Are you ready to build a diverse, equal, and inclusive workforce? One of the keys to building an inclusive and diverse workforce is creating an inclusive and diverse HR team. Remember that creating an atmosphere where all your staff members are heard is one of the best things that can happen to your team. Feel free to reach out to us at Mission HR if you need further help.
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