Diversity, equity and inclusion have been on many leaders’ minds in recent years, and with good reason. The corporate landscape in America is dominated by men, especially white men.
Tech companies, in particular, have a big representation issue. For example, despite making up roughly 12% of the US population, according to Statista, only 3.8% of Facebook’s workforce was Black as recently as 2019. Others fared better, like Twitter, with 26.5% of its employees being Black, according to the same report.
Still, research proves time and time again that when minorities are represented, businesses thrive. Now, leaders have started to realize that diverse workplaces have many benefits for both the employees and the company’s performance. But there’s a lot to be done to achieve true representation.
In this blog, we’re exploring the nuances of diversity, equity and inclusion and how they benefit your organization.
The difference between diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity, equity and inclusion are terms commonly associated with one another. So much so that some people have started using them interchangeably. But each concept is a special piece of the puzzle in the workplace.
To start, diversity highlights the different characteristics and backgrounds of the people in a group. Equity refers to the importance of giving everyone, regardless of these differences, equal access to opportunities. And inclusion means creating an environment where these differences are welcome.
As you see, these concepts are closely related. While they go hand in hand, each of these terms carries a special weight. And companies that work on developing these values are bound to succeed, as we’ll see in the next section.
The common characteristics of diverse and inclusive workplaces
There isn’t a tried and true formula for DEI in any industry. However, diverse and inclusive companies have similar characteristics. For example, the office may have a prayer or meditation room or accommodate office hours to employees’ religious or spiritual habits. Facilities are designed with accessibility in mind for people with disabilities, and there are breastfeeding rooms for new moms going back to work.
But true diversity starts with representation. In inclusive workplaces, employees have a range of backgrounds, including different races, ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities and neurodiversity.
All employees within an inclusive workplace feel like valuable contributors to the company’s processes and success. And most importantly, they feel represented in leadership, which empowers and encourages people from any background to be an active participant.
Psychological safety is another characteristic of diverse companies. A psychologically safe space is one where employees can embrace their uniqueness and be authentically themselves in the workplace without fear of repercussions for thinking or acting differently from their peers.
One positive outcome of workplace diversity is that it sparks creative thinking. People with different backgrounds bring different perspectives to the table and are more willing to explore out-the-box approaches and take risks. Multiple studies show that diverse teams outperform nondiverse teams across the board. Great Place to Work, for example, highlights that racially diverse teams see greater revenue growth. And Forbes reports that companies with an inclusive process make decisions 2x faster and with half the meetings compared to other workplaces.
The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are clear. But how can you, as a leader, open these spaces in your organization?
How to foster diversity in the workplace
Roughly a third of potential applicants admit that they wouldn’t apply to a company where satisfaction rates among employees vary by race. So creating a diverse and inclusive workspace for your team may feel like going in circles in that you may have difficulty bringing in diverse staff if you don’t already have a diverse staff.
One of the first steps you can take is to diversify your recruitment process as part of your DEI commitment. Microsoft succeeds at creating a diverse and inclusive environment by connecting with students in colleges and universities. This way, they tap into a talent pool that’s full of potential. Microsoft’s multiple programs further support its mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” You can also ask for referrals from your existing diverse staff to reach people outside of your network. Hybrid and remote work has also created the opportunity to work with talented individuals from many different locations and backgrounds.
Another crucial element of DEI is fair compensation. Historically, women and other marginalized groups have experienced significant pay discrepancies compared to men, especially white. For example, in the US, black men earn 87 cents per every dollar a white man earns. And white women, the highest-earning group of women, earn 79 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Companies like Convertkit, with fully remote staff, have committed to closing this gap by offering equal pay for equal work, regardless of location. Transparent wages and compensation schemes are attractive incentives for job seekers and employees alike. In fact, New York recently passed a law that requires employers to disclose a salary range for promoted positions in hopes of reducing the pay gap.
In order to attract diverse talent, you’ll also need to ensure that your existing staff has ongoing DEI training, which are training programs designed to help people discover and work on their own biases and prejudices, as well as give them the tools to advocate for underrepresented or marginalized groups.
And finally, create policies to ensure that your stakeholders are aware of the ongoing DEI efforts and initiatives that’ll make your organization a truly welcoming place for a broad range of people. SMART goals and action plans increase your chances of success and demonstrate to your talent and prospective employees that you’re committed to being better.
Is your workplace lacking in diversity and inclusion?
If you’re struggling to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace, it’s time to rethink the way your organization is running. Book a discovery call, and together, we can explore the possibilities to transform your organization from within.