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December 8, 2023
March 1, 2024

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging aren’t just HR buzzwords that will eventually fade back into obscurity. No, they are foundational principles that will boost every aspect of your culture and business when put into practice.

However, it can be hard to parse what DEIB really is and how to implement these principles effectively. So if you’re looking for what DEIB is, what the benefits of it are, and how to implement it in your workplace, you’ve come to the right place.

What Are Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging?

When it comes down to it, DEIB is focused on helping individuals feel like a valued, welcomed, and appreciated part of a community. These concepts aim to help your employees feel comfortable, even thrive, regardless of their beliefs, heritage, or appearance.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are all apples from the same tree, but they’re distinct in important ways.

Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity is creating a work environment that includes people of different genders, races, nationalities, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. A diverse workplace embraces these differences and uses these diverse perspectives to enrich their culture and their organization as a whole.

Equity in the Workplace

Equity is ensuring that every employee at an organization has access to the same resources, opportunities, and benefits, no matter what. In a nutshell, equity is fairness. Fair pay, fair amounts of recognition, and fairness in daily interactions make up the foundation of equity. Only 28% of employees feel their organization is fair, so we have a long way to go.

Inclusion in the Workplace

Inclusion and diversity are complementary concepts—but if diversity is the presence of many diverse people itself, inclusion is ensuring those diverse people feel welcomed and work together. Inclusion means that your diverse workforce all feel respected, valued, and represented. They feel that they can be their authentic selves with no fear of judgment.

Belonging in the Workplace

Belonging is the sum of the other three concepts. When employees feel included, welcomed, valued, and trusted, they will feel like they belong. In short, employees should feel like they do around their friends—like they’re a valued member of the group.

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DEIB Statistics

According to Pew Research, 54% of employees agree that their company pays the right amount of attention to DEIB. While that is over half, that means 46% of employees aren’t satisfied with current practices.

The majority of employees say that DEIB initiatives have a positive impact on the workplace. These initiatives include:

  • Policy to ensure fair hiring, pay, and promotions
  • Policy to create ERGs
  • Policy to provide transparent salary ranges for all positions
  • Staff member whose main job is to promote DEIB

Over 60% of employees think it’s important to work at an organization with different races, ethnicities, and ages. Over 55% want to work at a place with a mix of men and women. And over 40% think it’s important to work with a range of sexual orientations.

The importance of DEIB is only going to grow as younger generations take up more of the workforce. 68% of employees ages 18-29 say focusing on DEIB at work is a good thing, while only 56% and 46% of workers 30-49 and 50-64 say that, respectively.

All this to say, the majority of employees want their organization to focus on DEIB, and it’s only going to grow in importance as time goes on.

While DEIB is important because everyone deserves to feel valued and supported, these principles also provide measurable benefits for businesses that invest in them.

Benefits of DEIB in the Workplace

There are plenty of statistics showing the power of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, such as:

  • Better recruitment and retention, with 75% of job applicants saying DEIB is important to them when choosing a job.
  • Inclusive and diverse workforces are 35% more likely to outperform competition
  • Diverse leaders earn a 19% higher revenue
  • Cognitive diversity can improve innovation by 20%
  • Diversity of age can lead to better performance, greater workplace satisfaction, and greater revenue

DEIB makes employees happier and improves business outcomes. So what can you do to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at your organization?

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Developing a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Strategy

Creating a DEIB strategy is the best way to ensure your policies and initiatives have the momentum and support they need to be successful. Here are some strategies to create an effective DEIB strategy:

1. Create Achievable DEIB Goals

With firm goals, you’ll know what you’re trying to accomplish and what actions need to happen to do so. These goals can be anything you feel your organization can improve, including:

  • Increasing the number of ethnic minorities in leadership roles by X%
  • Improve the inclusivity of your hiring process by X%
  • Update DEIB policies by next year
  • Create X new employee resource groups (ERGs) by Q4

Goals give your DEIB initiatives direction and help you get leadership on board as well. Get together and discuss where you can improve and set goals to make it happen.

2. Leverage the Right Tools and Resources

There are many tools you can utilize to measure and improve the DEIB of your business. External tools, such as a diversity consulting firm, can help you get started. However, lasting change comes with internal changes, such as hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, creating a DEIB committee, or increasing support for your employee resource groups.

Other tools, such as employee engagement software, surveys, and an employee recognition platform are all tools you can use to gather feedback, measure engagement, and improve feelings of belonging.

3. Invest in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs are a great way to increase DEIB in any business. ERG’s are employee-run organizations that provide a sense of community and belonging for certain groups. For example, here at Awardco, we have a Pride ERG for the LGBTQ+ community and a Women’s ERG for the amazing women working here.

These groups are phenomenal tools for increasing inclusion and belonging at your workplace. They show employees that you value their differences and will support them no matter what. Talk with your DEIB committee or poll your employees to see which ERG they would like—then offer the support and resources needed to create and/or improve it.

4. Really Focus on the Recruitment Process

Recruitment is where DEIB either starts to flourish or shrivel up. A company that actively seeks out diverse perspectives and interviews talent from a wide range of pools will naturally have a more diverse workforce. Here are some ways to prioritize diversity during recruitment:

  • Increase the visibility of job openings. Use networks and platforms that spread awareness of your jobs so that underrepresented groups have visibility into your openings.
  • Train interviewers to avoid bias, and ensure any hiring panels include a diverse range of employees. Having diverse perspectives in the actual interview will avoid even unconscious bias when hiring.
  • Structure your interviews with standardized questions. This eliminates any personal prejudices and lets applicants stand out on merit, not race, cultural background, sexual orientation, etc.

Most people aren’t biased or prejudiced—at least on purpose. But these steps go a long way in eliminating the chances of non-diverse hiring panels unconsciously hiring the applicant that looks/acts the most like them.

5. Create an Inclusive and Equitable Culture

Hiring diverse employees is the first step, but it doesn’t stop there. Creating a culture where everyone, including your diverse employees, feel valued and supported is just as important. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Teach leaders how to be inclusive. Leaders and managers need to promote diversity in order to walk the walk. Help them listen to employee concerns, ensure that they promote in an equitable way, and train them in speaking inclusively. Leadership transparency can go a huge way in inclusion, belonging, and equity.
  • Spread employee rewards and recognition. When employees are recognized, they perform better, stay longer, and feel more supported at work. Recognition builds a culture that helps your people feel valued and appreciated—ensure that recognition is spread to everyone in order to increase diversity and inclusion.
  • Celebrate diverse holidays. Instead of only talking about Christmas, Halloween, or the 4th of July, consider including other diverse holidays in your company’s calendar. Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and more are all perfect opportunities to raise awareness and help everyone feel welcome.
  • Need help celebrating some of these lesser-known holidays? Check out our celebration kits!

Everyone needs to feel seen and valued, and a culture with these initiatives in place will accomplish that.

6. Create a Mentorship Program

Coaching and mentorship programs are great ways to foster diversity, equity, and belonging in your workplace. These create a structure that helps underrepresented employees gain new opportunities and skills, opportunities they may not get otherwise.

Mentorship programs are often built around 1:1 relationships, with each pairing between a newer employee and someone who is more experienced. These are also a great way to spread more understanding and belonging, especially if you pair people of different genders, backgrounds, or ethnicities together.

Coaching programs are also great—these are more structured, leader-guided programs that focus on developing employee skills and abilities. These are great for increasing the equity of your culture, giving everyone equal opportunities to grow and advance.

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Get With the Times—Invest in DEIB

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging can push your business over the edge by making a culture everyone wants to be a part of. Recruitment and retention will be easier and more effective, and your culture