This article has been contributed by Ms. Sonica Aron, Managing Partner and founder of Marching Sheep
Over the last decade, the business landscape has seen a remarkable transformation. Global economic growth, technological advancements, talent dynamics, and evolving macroeconomic conditions contribute to this transition.
Due to this, businesses have found themselves operating in extremely challenging, and ever-evolving conditions. And to cope with this, organizations have had to evolve with the changing times to remain relevant and competitive.
Today’s diverse talent dynamic has been a driving force, which has compelled organizations across geographies, sectors, and life stages to broaden their narrative around diversity, equity and inclusion.
As today's workforce is multi-generational and multicultural, from diverse life phases with evolving expectations for where and how they want to work as well as grow. Thus, it is not only about recruiting diverse talent, it is also about creating inclusive, transparent, and empathetic cultures where everyone can bring their authentic selves.
In the scenario, DEI—diversity, equality, and inclusion—has become a watchword in recent years. Despite the fact that there is yet much work to be done, several businesses have taken measures to address DEI in the workplace by embracing it. But, before we get started, let us first grasp why it is critical to implement DEI strategies.
DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
DEI comprises of interventions, programs, and policies that enhance diverse group representation and participation authentically. Persons of all genders, races and ethnicities, abilities, beliefs, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations are included, as well as people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, talents, and expertise.
The objective is not just to hire a diverse workforce, but also to put in place structures and procedures that allow all employees to participate in company decisions and have their voices heard.
DEI is not simply a moral necessity, but also a commercial imperative. While many businesses view DEI through the lens of compliance and reputation management, they also acknowledge that diversity benefits both individual employees and the financial performance of the business.
The ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion are mutually reinforcing for an organization. Because an employee's sense of belonging (inclusion) and sense of justice (equity) is so crucial, focusing alone on diversity is insufficient.
Thus, in this current day, when individuals are trying to learn everything and keep up with the trends, it has become critical for organizations to comprehend the importance of DEI and promote it throughout the company by implementing various DEI initiatives.
DEI Strategies to Adopt at the Workplace
In today's world, every organization comprises diverse people, and when we talk about DEI strategies, the first thing that comes to mind is women employees, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities as they face both societal and workplace bias and challenges.
However, diversity among people is much broader. The workforce today represents people from all walks of life. Different socioeconomic strata, geographies, language preferences, educational backgrounds, generations, and whatnot. Diversity is a fact however, inclusion is a choice.
It is key to creating sensitization and awareness among all layers of the organization that every individual, irrespective of their differences, needs to be valued and included.
Building managerial capability in driving inclusive teams, building awareness around appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, and inclusive and non-inclusive language should be an ongoing effort in all organizations.
Building courage in people to drive bystander inclusion, calling in, and calling out instances of non-inclusion should be encouraged.
Beginning at the Top
Organizations with diverse leadership are more successful and have higher market value. With DEI embedded not just in the HR strategy but in the business strategy, in Leadership speak, and in values and culture, there will be increased organization-wide commitment, clear expectations, and collaborative dedication.
A leader's visibility and active engagement in DEI activities speak loudly in the workplace. Putting firm beliefs into action act as a role model for employees and helps to keep the momentum going. Employees observe leaders' actions, words, and conduct to determine their genuineness.
Leaders may demonstrate their commitment to their people through proactive communication and collaborative allyship actions. Consistent leadership efforts will reinforce the organization's mission and values while fostering a common commitment to the movement.
Responsibility and Understanding
Many executives regard diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) as the HR responsibility and are not fully involved in the initiatives in letter and spirit. Such organizations are unlikely to benefit significantly from the DEI strategy.
However, it is not simply an HR job; it is the responsibility of everyone who works in the organization. Because DEI is linked to innovation, creativity, productivity, and profitability. According to Sonica Aron, a key role for HR is to have a continued performance while simultaneously encouraging employees.
Every management and employee must understand what inclusive and non-inclusive actions are, that they, too, may become victims of inequality and that an overarching culture of respect and inclusion is required.
It is a fact that nothing changes in business until everyone is held accountable for it. As a result, firms may improve their DEI strategy by using a 360-degree approach that tackles infrastructure, policies, HR practices, communication, and attitudes and involves people to drive diverse initiatives and hold them accountable. The 360 strategies, on the other hand, will give the organization a DEI plan that includes solutions for every dimension and stage of diversity.
With the benefits of a diverse workforce in view, organizations must adjust DEI policies and nurture their diverse employees at every stage.
Whether you are an MNC, an established conglomerate, a mid-sized firm, or a startup, at the end of the day, every person has to feel valued for their contributions irrespective of their differences and uniqueness, which is why incorporating DEI into the culture from day one is vital.
Why is DEI important in the workplace?
There are ample reasons why DEI is important in the workplace. Some of them are DEI brings work-life balance for the employees, improves employee retention rate, it also promotes a healthy working environment that indirectly improves the creativity level of employees.
What is the full form of DEI?
The word DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
How do you bring DEI to the workplace?
DEI can be brought to the workplace by implementing a number of practices. Implementing practices like empowering people of all levels to the sensitive issues, focusing on the norms, practices, and policies in the organization that create a better internal environment, creating a leadership plan, etc.