How to launch diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging practices in your workplace
20 September, 2022
For business owners, plan sponsors and administrators
During the summer, Canadians celebrated our diversity with occasions including National Indigenous History Month, Pride Month, Black Lives Matter Month, and Canadian Multiculturalism Day.
And in the fall, we reflect on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
These occasions encourage us to both celebrate our achievements and reflect on the need for continuing change in our society, including our workplaces.
Commemorative occasions are good opportunities for employers to assess their diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) standards. But DEIB requires more than simply recognizing certain days of the year. To create lasting change in your organization, DEIB needs to be embedded throughout your processes, culture, and values.
Let’s take a closer look at DEIB and how you can launch practices that will help create a safe and positive work environment for all employees.
What is DEIB?
DEIB is a strategy to help employees experience a workplace free from discrimination every day of the year. It involves celebrating diversity as well as recognizing and addressing ongoing challenges that equity-deserving groups face in the workplace.
Diversity refers to the presence of a wide range of identities, qualities, and experiences. A diverse workplace includes employees of different races, genders, ages, sexual orientations, religions, ethnicities, mental or physical abilities, and so on.
Ways to champion diversity:
- Provide all leaders, managers, and employees with diversity and unconscious bias training.
- Review your recruitment strategy, examine the language used in job postings, and build diverse hiring teams.
- Offer flexible work arrangements where employees can take time off to celebrate cultural and traditional holidays or activities.
Equity involves creating a workplace where all employees have fair treatment, access, and opportunities to grow and develop. This involves recognizing that some individuals may have more opportunities than others. It also requires tackling unconscious biases or prejudices that may be disadvantaging certain employees.
Ways to champion equity:
- Conduct an internal compensation audit to identify and rectify any wage discrepancies.
- Ensure all workplace resources and spaces are accessible, like putting closed captions on training videos or having barrier-free washrooms.
- Shift your focus from finding candidates with certain degree requirements to those with the right skills and work experience.
Inclusion promotes a welcome environment for all, where employees feel respected, supported, and valued. Employees should feel safe bringing their unique ideas and experiences to the workplace. Inclusion means that everyone has an opportunity to be heard and to affect decisions.
Ways to champion inclusion:
- Develop employee resource groups to provide support to underrepresented groups and encourage staff participation.
- Leverage the power of exit interviews to identify issues in your company culture that may be leading to turnover.
- Create safe spaces for people to practice their beliefs, such as a meditation or prayer room.
Belonging is the experience of feeling accepted and included. You may have heard of the acronym DEI, which was more commonly used in the past. The “B” for belonging has been added to acknowledge the outcome of being welcomed and valued as one’s most authentic self. When diversity, equity, and inclusion exist, belonging is the outcome.
Ways to champion belonging:
- Learn to identify, address, and eliminate microaggressions in the workplace.
- Host open conversations and proactively seek out employee feedback about company culture.
- Speak your employees’ language of appreciation when recognizing and expressing gratitude for their efforts in the workplace.
Why DEIB is important year-round
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important for the success and wellbeing of any workplace. Diverse teams are more innovative, creative, and even smarter than unvaried teams, according to many recent studies.
But it’s essential that every member of a diverse team also feels a sense of belonging so that they can truly contribute to their full potential. When you prioritize DEIB every day, and not just for particular holidays or events, you will start to see plenty of benefits in your workplace.
Attract top talent and reduce turnover:
Wondering just how much inclusion matters to employees? In a survey by Deloitte, 80 percent of respondents said inclusion is important when choosing an employer1. Almost one quarter of respondents have even left an organization for a more inclusive one.
Experience higher engagement and innovation:
When employees feel like they belong and are adding value to their organization, they are more likely to have higher engagement, motivation, and performance. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, businesses with more diversity had 19 percent higher innovation revenues2.
Increase business performance:
DEIB doesn’t just contribute to a better workplace—it leads to a more successful business. A report from McKinsey & Company revealed that more diverse companies are now more likely to earn higher profits than their less diverse peers3.
To infinity and beyond
Think about a seemingly impossible goal. Let’s take humans landing on the moon, for example. It was only with a great deal of ingenuity from teams of diverse people, experiences, and skillsets that the impossible became possible.
But it also took thoughtful planning, preparation, and action. As an HR professional, consider yourself the mission control for your team. It’s up to you to equip every single teammate with the safety, education, and resources they need to set foot on uncharted territory.
Embedding DEIB into your organization isn’t a quick or simple journey. It often requires holding people accountable, including leaders, and challenging current behaviours and processes. But it starts with small steps.
We can help you take your first steps with live HR advice or provide online employee training on DEIB. Manulife group benefits sponsors get preferred pricing on these HRdownload services and more. Find out how HRdownloads can help your organization.
1 Deloitte, Unleashing the power of inclusion, 2017
2 Harvard Business Publishing, How and Where Diversity Drives Financial Performance, 2018
3 McKinsey & Company, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters, 2020
The HRdownloads research team prepared this insightful article for you. HRdownloads is a Manulife partner and one of Canada’s most experienced providers of human resources tools and expertise. They can help organizations like yours accomplish everyday HR tasks seamlessly.
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