Organizations recognize the profound impact diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can have on their success. Beyond buzzwords, DEI represents a framework that holds the key to unlocking the full potential of individuals and the organization. Companies can propel themselves toward all-new heights by fostering an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included. It sounds utopian, but there's more to the story.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What Does It Really Mean?
Diversity encompasses the rich tapestry of individuals who bring unique backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, and identities to the table. It goes beyond surface-level differences and embraces the richness of human variation.
Equity embodies the notion of fairness and justice, ensuring everyone has equal opportunities to thrive, grow, and contribute. It seeks to address historical disparities and dismantle barriers that hinder the advancement of underrepresented groups. By championing equity, organizations can create a level playing field where merit and potential are the primary drivers of success.
Inclusion is the heart of DEI, fostering a culture where every voice is heard, valued, and actively engaged. It goes beyond representation and encourages individuals to bring their authentic selves to the workplace. Inclusive environments foster collaboration, innovation, and a sense of belonging, empowering individuals to contribute their unique perspectives and talents without fear of bias or discrimination.
Why Is Inclusion Important to the Success of a Business?
In today's dynamic business landscape, inclusion has emerged as a linchpin for success in competitive industries. It goes beyond being a checkbox on the list of organizational priorities — it has become a powerful catalyst that drives employee retention, collaboration, innovation, and, ultimately, the bottom line.
Enhanced Employee Engagement and Retention
Inclusive companies foster an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique skills and perspectives. The impact of this inclusive culture is profound — 47 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company if it is inclusive. Think about that job you had where you couldn't truly express yourself or felt like no one wanted to tap into your true value - that's the alternative and that's one reason why turnover is so high.
Amplified Collaboration and Team Satisfaction
Inclusive workplaces cultivate a spirit of collaboration, breaking down barriers and facilitating meaningful interactions between individuals from diverse backgrounds. This collaborative synergy breeds creativity, innovation, and, ultimately, higher-quality work. Ninety percent of employees are more likely to go out of their way to help a colleague in an inclusive company. Not only because they want their team to do better, but often because people who invest in understanding each other better and building stronger relationships, have more respect for each other and deeper bonds to build upon.
Driving Revenue Growth Through Diversity
Beyond the intrinsic benefits of inclusion, businesses stand to gain financially from fostering diverse and inclusive environments. Research has shown that racially diverse workplaces experience the largest revenue growth.
However, the significance of inclusion extends beyond financial gains alone. Inclusion should not be viewed as a means to an end solely focused on driving profits. Authors Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas emphasize this point in their Harvard Business Review article: "When diversity initiatives promise financial gains but fail to deliver, people are likely to withdraw their support for them." Inclusion should be an authentic commitment rooted in fairness, equity, and respect for all individuals, because everyone wins in that scenario, including the business.
The Experience of Black or Racialized Folks in North American Companies
The experience of Black or racialized employees within North American companies sheds light on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, Black employees are overrepresented in frontline and entry-level positions, while their representation at managerial levels remains lower. This indicates a need for focused efforts to provide equal advancement opportunities and create pathways for growth and development.
Furthermore, Black employees leave positions more frequently than their white counterparts. A significant factor is the trust deficit between Black employees and their managers. Perception gaps reveal that Black employees feel their company leaders fall short in areas such as acceptance, fairness, and authenticity. They yearn for an inclusive culture that values their diversity, promotes fairness in evaluation and promotion, and allows them to be their authentic selves at work.
While it is crucial to focus on the broader impact of diversity and inclusion, addressing the specific experiences of Black or racialized employees is equally important. The McKinsey & Company survey highlights some key insights:
Over 50 percent of Black employees perceive their companies as unfair, compared to fewer than one-third of white employees.
Black employees are less likely to feel encouraged to be themselves and speak up.
Less than 25 percent of Black employees report that their coworkers take the time to learn about diverse backgrounds and openly discuss diversity concerns.
Over 80 percent of Black employees express interest in advancing within their companies but don't have the support they need.
These findings underscore the urgent need for organizations to foster an inclusive culture, cultivate allyship principles at every turn, and provide the necessary support systems to enable the growth and advancement of Black employees. All of that comes with work. Everyone doing their share of personal work on their own unconscious biases, and companies implementing DEI strategies that encourage culture shifts starting with leadership, policy changes and finally felt at a behavioural level with the folks you work with.
The Journey of Continuous Improvement
Achieving true equity in our society and workplaces requires us to unravel centuries of systemic biases, unlearn harmful norms, and actively repair the structures perpetuating inequality that exist all around us - from the way we get loans to how we hire to where we shop.
The path toward a truly inclusive and equitable society is a continuous journey rather than a final destination. That's why when we work with our clients we develop a custom DEI strategy in order to meet your team where you're at and determine what steps will help you build a more inclusive company culture capitalizing on your cultural opportunities.
By leveraging your leadership's unwavering commitment and your team's collective effort, you can challenge the status quo, question your own biases, and advocate for change at every level of your organizations and communities.
If you're ready to have these tough conversations in your workplace, reach out.