Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: An In-depth Look at Each Attribute

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: An In-depth Look at Each Attribute

Workplaces are changing in so many ways that it might be difficult for experienced business leaders to keep track. One of the most important shifts in workplace trends is that of DEI, or diversity, equity and inclusion. Many business leaders are committed to supporting more employees of different backgrounds — but integrating DEI into business practices is not as simple as hiring a pack of minority talent. Before any business leader strives to move forward with DEI policies, they might pursue diversity, equity and inclusion certification. Learn more about the basics of these terms here:


The first letter of DEI, diversity is the presence of differences within the workplace environment. Those differences can encompass all shapes, sizes and colors, from race and ethnicity to gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, to age, to socio-economic class, physical ability, marital and parenthood status and more. Workplaces that succeed in the diversity attribute of DEI will maintain teams of employees with all sorts of differences within their backgrounds.

There are many benefits to diversity in the workplace. The most commonly advertised advantage of more diversity in employment is the opportunity for enhanced creativity and innovation. People with similar backgrounds tend to think, act and feel in similar ways, which means the methods they use to consider problems and devise solutions tend to be alike. In contrast, people with some difference in their background may approach a problem with a fresh perspective and thus formulate new and pioneering solutions which can improve business performance, productivity and profits.

Of course, there is a more significant reason for companies to invest in diversity in their staff. As more companies prioritize diversity in hiring, the gaps in employment and income within our society should close. People who are often marginalized in the workplace tend to experience greater struggle in finding secure housing, affording healthy food, obtaining effective education and more.  All members of a community develop the opportunity to thrive when employers intentionally integrate diverse backgrounds — and when surrounding communities are stable, businesses have more strength to grow and succeed.


The second attribute in DEI, equity, is the process of creating impartiality and fairness within a business’s practices and programs to allow every individual the same opportunity for positive outcomes. An essential component of ensuring equity within an organization is recognizing the advantages some employees might have and the barriers other employees might face on the path to success. Then, business leaders must strategically alter their processes and programs to even the playing field.

Creating true equity in the workplace requires more work than many executives recognize. Often, inequality is not the direct result of overt and malicious bias; rather, it comes from systems that have long existed to prefer certain types of people over others. It can take immense effort for business teams to recognize underlying drivers of discrimination within a business practice and develop solutions that overcome them.

However, the risks of inequity are much more severe than the cost of creating equity in a business. Inequitable systems will drive away people of diverse backgrounds, making it much more difficult for organizations to achieve the first attribute of DEI. What’s more, consumers are becoming much more cognizant of the issue of equity, and if brands do not prioritize eliminating inequity, they could suffer public backlash that makes growth and success impossible.


The final component of DEI, inclusion is the process of building a sense of belonging within the workplace. Organizations that achieve inclusion find a way to balance the need for professionalism and productivity with the desire of every employee to be their authentic selves. When inclusion is achieved, workers no longer feel the need to alter something about themselves when they step into the workplace; they do not try to shield their identity, code-switch or participate in other behaviors that obscure their true nature. With efforts to provide adequate comfort and support to employees of all backgrounds, organizations can achieve inclusion.

As with equity, inclusion is an essential component of maintaining a diverse workforce. Many marginalized employees will begin to feel burned out and unappreciated in non-inclusive workplaces, and as a result, they will leave in search of more inclusive employers. Thus, business leaders need to consider how their workplace cultures might shift to become more inclusive and accepting of people of all backgrounds.

DEI should not be considered merely some passing fad in employment practices. Business leaders need to think of DEI as a foundational component of their corporate culture and practices, necessary for growing into the future.  

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