Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a business priority, and for good reason. In tandem with ongoing global crises, social movements, and racial injustice, more people are deeply invested in DEI, and how organisations are approaching it. From existing employees to job candidates and even customers, people today are looking to invest their time, labor, and money into ethical, socially conscious businesses.
As a result, companies are realising more than ever that strong DEI policies are not just a “nice-to-have,” but rather essential for both individual and business success. But business success is just an outcome, and should not be your primary motivator for prioritising DEI. People leaders know the importance of a meaningful employee experience – and DEI impacts every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle from equitable recruiting practices, fair performance reviews, and beyond.
By now, most organisations have put out some statements in support of diversity and equality, but this gesture is no longer enough. Individuals are calling on organisations to start practicing what they preach and build a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace.
Regardless of where you are in your DEI journey, it can be challenging to identify the next steps and take action. In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about DEI, including best practices and resources for both getting started and evolving your approach.
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion?
The nomenclature around DEI has evolved over the years. The idea goes by many names, such as D&I, EDI, I&D, DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging), and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion). While each has important distinguishing factors, the sentiment remains the same – to create a better work experience for individuals of all identities and backgrounds.
Before we dig into best practices, we’ve included a few key terms below to help you understand the nuances in the DEI landscape:
1. Diversity refers to the range of human differences that make each person unique, including but not limited to: race, gender, and socioeconomic background. When it comes to DEI, diversity refers not to individuals (i.e.., “a diverse person”), but to the composition of teams and organisations (i.e., “a diverse company”).
2. Equity is the process of recognising that advantages and barriers exist that create unequal starting places, and addressing & mitigating that imbalance. It’s a concept that acknowledges that everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities and gives people what they need as individuals.
3. Inclusion is the act of making a person part of a group or collective, so each member feels valued and is afforded the same rights and opportunities. In a diverse workplace, differences exist – inclusion takes it a step further to ask how everyone, from team members to end-users, can feel valued and included in policies, processes, physical spaces, products, and more.
4. Belonging is the feeling of security and support one gets when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group or place.
DEI encompasses the range of policies, values, practices, and strategies used by companies to foster a work environment where individuals can thrive throughout the employee experience. When done thoughtfully, a DEI strategy actively considers and incorporates all three principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion to craft holistic processes that meaningfully address the inequities faced by underrepresented groups.
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