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What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

April 26, 2024

Diversity, equity and inclusion is often shortened to DEI. It’s more than just an industry buzzword; it marks a departure from allowing biases (unconscious or otherwise) from being able to shape company policy and decision making.

When there are issues with diversity, equity and inclusion in a workplace, it’s often difficult for those in the middle of it all to see the forest for the trees. It often requires a conscious effort to take a step back and make changes for the better.

Every company should adopt DEI policies as part of their company charter. Rather than seeing this as something that modifies your existing policies, you should instead see this as the foundation on which everything else is built on.

In this guide, we’re exploring diversity, equity and inclusion in more detail. We’ll explore what each item means and how you can put these to work in your company. We’ll also explore some of the benefits your company can enjoy as a result of taking these factors seriously. 

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? CMD Recruitment

What is diversity and why does it matter?

When tasked with building teams, most of us would be guilty of employing unconscious bias in the hiring process. When hiring new people and expanding teams, we look for familiarity, and this usually means hiring people that look and think the same as us.

From a management perspective, this is all too common because managers assume it will be easier to take control of situations if their teams think and work in similar ways to them. As a manager, you’re less likely to be caught off guard if you feel the way your workers think and act is more closely aligned with you.

However, a lack of diversity can stifle innovation and prevent growth. If you only ever do the same things, you’ll always get the same outcome. Innovative companies rely on diversity to introduce new ideas and new ways of working.

What is equity and why does it matter?

Equity is all about ensuring that individuals are recognised for their achievements and given a fair slice of the pie. This also means that everyone should be given the same opportunities for training and progression based on their skills and talents.

It’s common for certain individuals to be overlooked for things like promotions and mentoring opportunities, but when you place equity at the heart of your organisation, everyone is placed on an even playing field.

By ensuring you prioritise equity in the workplace, you make sure that everyone enjoys equal opportunities and has their fair share of recognition. This can help to increase staff retention and drive down hiring costs in the long term.

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? CMD Recruitment

What is inclusion and why does it matter?

The final piece of the puzzle is inclusion, and this simply means ensuring that everyone can have a meaningful contribution, not just a token contribution for appearances. Tokenism is a toxic workplace practice that can not only damage progress within your company but could also damage your reputation from an outside perspective.

Inclusion means that diverse voices in your organisation feel welcome, heard, included and valued by the company. They should feel this from their colleagues and from their superiors.

When you create an inclusive work environment, you create the kind of space where everyone feels they can bring their very best to the table and embody their authentic selves. This allows everyone to show up and give their very best every day.

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? CMD Recruitment

How do you introduce DEI in the workplace?

Prioritising DEI in the workplace needs to come from the top and be understood and appreciated at every level of the organisation. It’s not just an issue for HR to worry about, it’s something that everyone in the company should consider.

Diversity, equity and inclusion needs to be hard-coded into the foundations of the company. It needs to be part of the fabric of the company to ensure that it is fully adopted and appreciated. Here are some tried and tested methods you could try to incorporate DEI into the foundations of your company.

  • Re-write your company mission statement to include reference to DEI in a specific and meaningful way. This should then be distributed throughout the company so that everyone is aware of the changes. 
  • Talk to employees about what DEI means to them and find out if there are obvious ways you might be falling short. These might be difficult conversations to have, but you need all of the information available if you are to make better decisions.
  • Workshop the proposed ideas to get buy-in from key stakeholders and those in positions of authority. This will help you to work out the difficulties in the proposals that might hold you back from fully embracing DEI.
  • Make it part of the hiring process. When you let candidates know that you value DEI, you can expect them to call you out if your actions don’t match your words. DEI is essential for recruitment, so it’s vital that it becomes part of your processes.
  • Be willing to be wrong. You might get things wrong sometimes, and it’s vital that you’re open to feedback and willing to change when you are called out on important things. When you get something wrong, take a step back and think about what you could have done to improve. This should help to pave the way for better policies that are based on real world experience and not hypotheticals.

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? CMD Recruitment

What are the benefits of DEI for employers?

Making DEI a priority in your business is about more than just hitting the right recruitment buzzwords to attract new talent. There are genuine benefits to be found in making sure that diversity, equity and inclusion are key parts of your company policy.

A diverse workforce will bring together a mix of skills, talents, experiences and world views. While many employers fear this will lead to conflict, it can actually have the opposite effect. Workers are able to learn from one another by hearing different viewpoints. These are just some of the benefits of DEI for employers:

  • You’ll have access to a bigger talent pool. When you aren’t limiting your search to employees who look, think or act a certain way, you’ll find you have far more candidates to choose from.
  • When your team feels valued, heard and appreciated, they are more likely to stick around. Driving up staff retention can help to drive down the cost of recruitment.
  • Another perk of making your team feel valued is that they will have better morale at work, which means they will be more productive. This increase in productivity could make a significant difference to your profit margins.
  • Happy employees talk about their employers positively, and word travels fast. When you make DEI a focus for your business, you can also improve your company reputation.
  • Businesses that prioritise DEI are able to make better decisions that are more in tune with their ideal target customers. Rather than falling into the trap of only catering to a small percentage of your customer base, by investing in a more diverse workforce, you can enjoy improved decision making. 

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? CMD Recruitment

Benefits of DEI for employees

It’s not just about improving productivity and increasing innovation. Employees can also benefit from a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Rather than being surrounded by the people who think and act just like you, when you have a diverse workforce, you’ll be working alongside people with differing opinions. This can be incredibly empowering as you will then feel like you bring something different to the table.

Everyone wants to feel that their contribution is valued, and DEI puts this front and centre as a top priority. This means that you don’t have to feel held back by things that may have once made you feel like you don’t belong.

Increased diversity in the workplace also helps to create a happier and safer working environment. And when you work for a company that values things like diversity, equity and inclusion, you can be confident they’ll take other things seriously, like work/life balance and hybrid working.

And finally, you’ll have a greater sense of ownership over your role if your employer makes inclusion a priority. This can give you far greater job satisfaction and allow you to feel more secure and confident in your role.

Final thoughts

Implementing DEI in the workplace is a conscious effort that companies can no longer afford to ignore. By moving beyond the buzzwords and thinking about the real potential benefits that are on offer, companies can tap into opportunities that could make them more competitive and more productive. 

You don’t have to care about the human emotion side of things, but you can’t deny the accompanying numbers that say a diverse workforce is more profitable and makes better decisions. By making DEI a core part of your company strategy for 2024 and beyond, you could tap into a wider talent pool, drive down recruitment costs and help to boost employee satisfaction.

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