Organization, which not only employs representatives from various groups but also ensures that they have an equal influence on its operations, has a greater chance of achieving success. Leaders are aware that engaged employees who feel like a significant part of the whole have an impact not only on better financial results.
Meaning of DEI
DEI, which stands for diversity, equality, and inclusion, are values embraced by organizations that support different groups of people. They are closely related (often complemented by similar values such as belonging), but we cannot use them interchangeably – although they are connected and only bring benefits together, they refer to different things.
- Diversity: It refers to differences among employees. It can include gender, age, nationality, language, socioeconomic status, etc. It also encompasses diverse experiences, different ways of thinking, distinct needs, and perceptions of the world. Diversity also includes disabilities and neurodiversity.
- Equality: It pertains to equal opportunities and an individual approach to each employee, ensuring that everyone has the same possibilities to achieve goals. Equality means impartiality, taking into account differences among employees, and assigning tasks in a way that allows everyone to accomplish them.
- Inclusion: It ensures that all employees, regardless of their differences, are part of the organization. They feel safe, knowing they can share their ideas, speak on various topics, and that their voices will be heard and taken into consideration
Diversity = profitability (and more)
Research conducted by McKinsey shows that diversity is closely linked to financial performance. For example, companies where women accounted for over 30% of the executive team achieved better results than organizations with a lower percentage.
However, diversity not only impacts profitability. Organizations that prioritize DEI are better equipped to respond to challenges, attract and retain top talents, and meet the needs of diverse customers. Companies are still exploring how to better support employees, as leaders are aware that their well-being influences the functioning of the entire organization.
McKinsey identifies five areas affected by DEI: attracting top talents (and retaining them within the organization), improving decision-making quality, gaining better insights into customers and fostering innovation, motivating and satisfying employees, and enhancing the company’s reputation.
DEI not only affects the employer-employee relationship but also has significance for employee-to-employee interactions. This translates into team dynamics, impacting the functioning of different departments and, ultimately, the entire organization. It matters not only for business development but also for the company’s image – it encompasses not only how it is perceived by business partners but also by current and future employees. It is an interconnected system where small elements significantly influence the whole, and each of them carries importance.
How to create an inclusive environment at work?
According to McKinsey’s research, nearly 40% of respondents would reject a job at an organization that does not respect its employees or prioritize inclusion. Furthermore, 84% of those surveyed have experienced workplace microaggressions. Over one-third of respondents indicate that their organizations do not make sufficient efforts to create a diverse and inclusive environment.
We can achieve success by allowing employees to feel like meaningful elements of the company, giving them a voice, and listening to their ideas. Employee engagement influences the sense of inclusion – the more active they are, the more they feel like a part of the organization.
To create a workplace aligned with the DEI strategy, it is important to:
- Ensure representation of diverse talents.
- Strengthen responsibility and leadership opportunities.
- Be accountable, transparent, and promote equal opportunities.
- Foster openness, combat microaggressions, prejudices, and discrimination.
- Enhance belonging by supporting diversity.
McKinsey also highlights four main factors related to inclusion:
- Inclusive diverse leadership.
- Meritocratic company culture.
- Sponsorship and an environment that supports advancement opportunities.
- Access to leaders, including those at the highest level, and interaction with them.
It is essential to remember that it is not enough to hire representatives from different groups. We must ensure that everyone is included in the team. If some individuals are overlooked, we may create a diverse environment, but it will not be inclusive. Success is achieved only when we address all aspects of DEI.