Defining Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Organizations that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion are proving to be more resilient, more competitive, and more relevant. Not only are these organizations leading the way when it comes to building some of the most successful businesses today, they are also attracting and retaining top talent -- and you can’t have one without the other!
Diversity, equity, and inclusion aren't just buzzwords - collectively, they represent a movement that seeks to create a more diverse workforce.
And as the conversation around diversity has moved from theoretical goals into tangible progress, the terminology being used to describe this movement has also evolved. So, maybe you’ve wondered - why are we talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion - and what exactly do those terms mean?
Defining Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
To truly understand the nuance associated with it implementing DEI initiatives, it's important to look at each term individually and understand the type of change each represents:
Diversity: The presence of different groups of people in one place as defined by their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political affiliations, socioeconomic status, language(s), abilities or disabilities, and age, among other signifiers. According to Built In, workplace diversity means that an organization employs a diverse team of people that’s reflective of the society in which it exists and operates.
Equity: The promotion of justice and fairness by institutions or systems to people with disparate needs and backgrounds in order to ensure that everyone thrives and succeeds, regardless of their differences. Unlike 'equality', equity is not looking to treat everyone the same. Rather, equity considers people's differences in order to adjust for existent inequalities. For instance, giving everyone shoes constitutes "equal" treatment (however, this approach assumes everyone needs the same thing in order to get around), whereas making accommodations for people who need assistance or infrastructure to get from place to place (such as with ramps, mobility aids, crutches, etc.), while also providing shoes to those in need, could enable everyone to move around freely, whether they could walk or not. The focus is on creating various solutions appropriate for different types of needs, in order to help everyone reach the same outcome and that way even out the playing field.
Inclusion: An outcome used to measure how welcoming an organization is to people in under-represented groups and whether or not they have the same opportunities and access to resources as the majority of other employees. SHRM sums up inclusion as “the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member” within the framework of a diverse, communicative, and culturally-competent environment in which everyone’s needs and perspectives are considered and heard.
Taken together, diversity, equity, and inclusion represent an important movement within organizations today, and the challenge of bringing them to life is critical for creating a high-performing organization that’s a magnet for attracting top talent - and keeping people engaged and driving organizational results.
Why is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Important?
Or rather, what does a company have to gain from adopting DEI programs or diversity initiatives? The answers may surprise you. For one, diversity has many positive effects on a company's financial performance and diverse companies are "120% more likely to hit financial goals". Diverse companies are also more innovative and better equipped to face business challenges than their competitors. According to the Deloitte Review (which included the findings of seven other leading research studies), diverse perspectives create an environment rich in creativity that can enhance innovation by 20% and reduce risks by up to 30%.
Organizations with a diverse and inclusive culture also tend to perform better. Because they have individuals within them who can better identify with the unique needs of a global consumer base, odds are good that they'll be able to see eye-to-eye with their clients. The Harvard Business Review reported that “a team with someone who shares the client's ethnicity is 152% more likely to understand the client.” It also found that companies with leaders who scored high for both inherent (existing) and acquired (exposure-based) diversity traits were more likely to report market share growth.
DEI is also a high priority for both workers and job seekers. A Glassdoor study found that two-thirds of active and passive job seekers consider a diverse workforce an important factor when evaluating potential employers, and that over half of existing employees think their companies should be doing more to make their workplace more diverse.
Creating a more equitable workplace also increases job satisfaction, cognitive diversity, and employee engagement across the organization, increasing employee retention and making everyone, particularly minority groups within the workplace, feel like they’re being seen and heard on par with their majority coworkers.
For more on this topic, listen to our Talent on the Rise podcast episode with special guest Alyssa Lahar from ZoomInfo.
How Can Technology Help Drive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?
Today's workforce is one of the most diverse in U.S. history, and technology has played a strong role in getting us to this point. By using data to track and publicly display existing inequalities in the system and from organization to organization, technology became both a powerful instigator and tool towards achieving increasingly more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environments.
Here are some ways that virtual tools are making the biggest impact in the inclusion efforts driving DEI progress today:
1. Talent Acquisition & Virtual Hiring
Thanks to online job boards, digital communication channels, and virtual hiring events, recruiters and hiring managers now have access to even larger and more diverse pools of candidates than ever before. Job seekers have also reaped the benefits of automated systems that reduce bias and discrimination by evaluating candidates on their skills, experience, and talent rather than on their background, ethnicity, or gender identity.
2. Talent Development
The existence of online trainings, AI-driven evaluations, and virtual networking opportunities allow for personal career pathing that is no longer exclusively dependent on the whims of upper management, allowing more diverse employees to ascend to higher roles of responsibility, thus transforming the middle-and-upper-leadership tiers of their organizations from the ground up.
3. Employee Engagement & Retention
It isn’t enough to attract diverse talent to your organization if you can’t keep them there due to high employee turnover rates. Technology enables HR departments to track individual employee satisfaction through automated surveys and touchpoints that further minimize bias, reduce equity issues, and maximize inclusion. Technology also empowers employees to anonymously alert their company to unfair or discriminatory behaviors occurring within their team, allowing the organization to make targeted adjustments that better accommodate a more diverse worker base.
But technology can only take us so far without the help of the people meant to drive it via thoughtful business strategy, so it’s up to everyone in the organization (particularly senior leaders or those in upper management) to champion change and elevate DEI measures to more than just a passing fad, but as an established core value at the very heart of their business.
To learn more about how Brazen is pioneering the use of hybrid and virtual events to support DEI hiring initiatives in all types of organizations, check out our solutions page.