Having a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a vital part of being a forward-thinking, 21st century business. Having a diverse and inclusive team is not just a 'box-ticking exercise’ to impress your shareholders or investors. It's a proven business strategy for making your workplaces more flexible and attuned to a modern way of doing business.
Recent research by Gartner found that inclusive teams unlock diversity benefits by improving team performance by up to 30% in high-diversity work environments. Now, that’s one very good reason to make your team more diverse!
With a more diverse workforce, and a culture that promotes equity and inclusion, your whole business can become a far more attractive proposition – both to your existing customers, your prospects and targets, and to your employees and potential new hires.
But what does DEI actually mean in a modern business environment?
- Diversity aims to ensure that there’s a mix of different people represented in your business, whether that be by race, gender, religion, sexuality or physical/mental ability.
- Equity is the process of making sure the way your business functions is fair, just and open to all, without any unconscious hurdles or biases for people to overcome.
- Inclusion focuses on embracing the needs and skills of all your employees, of all backgrounds, and making sure there are no barriers to them making a contribution.
Six ways to improve your DEI credentials
We know that making your business diverse, equitable and inclusive is important – both from an ethical standpoint and from the perspective of running a successful business. But what can you do to put DEI at the heart of your company’s values and goals?
Here are six ways to refocus your efforts on DEI:
- Measure the diversity of your team – ask yourself how diverse your team is, and make sure you’re honest about the answer. Measuring the diversity and backgrounds of your whole business, from top to bottom, can be revealing. If the company falls down when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion then action is needed.
- Review your HR and internal policies – are your company processes and procedures actually helping to promote good DEI principles? Look at your internal processes and see whether work can be done to make the company a more even and equal playing field. It’s also important to actively seek feedback from your employees and customers to identify DEI issues and areas for improvement.
- Establish clear DEI goals – setting goals for your DEI programme gives you some momentum to make change happen. You’ll need to regularly measure your progress against your DEO targets and make you’re holding yourself and your leadership team accountable for creating an inclusive culture.
- Diversify your hiring practices – you may not realise it, but your hiring process may be underpinned by unconscious bias. Updating and diversifying your hiring practices helps you actively seek out underrepresented candidates, using objective and inclusive selection criteria.
- Offer helpful diversity training – providing regular diversity training and resources to your employees can help to open people’s minds and bring about more positive outcomes. DEI training helps to create a safe space for open dialogue and learning, where experienced team members can learn, and new team members can contribute.
- Create a culture of inclusion – one of the biggest barriers to DEI people feeling excluded from your organisation. In an ideal world, you want people of all backgrounds to feel that your company could be a great place to work. You can help improve your inclusion levels by promoting diversity in all aspects of the business, from marketing and internal communications, right through to product design and branding.
Making your workplace a more diverse and inclusive place isn’t just the right thing to do as a business owner, it is also part of a successful business strategy.