The Human Soul is Too Grand to be Wasted in the Drainpipes of Cultural Exclusivity
The 10 Most Influential D&I Leaders, 2022
Everyone deserves a circle of inclusion and equality, but it’s up to you to create it. Understanding and accepting experiences and viewpoints that don’t mimic one’s own beliefs, builds empathy and trust, which are extremely valuable soft skills qualities any professional can develop. When organizations listen and celebrate what is both common and different, they become wiser, more inclusive, and better.
WHAT IS DIVERSITY, EQUALITY AND INCLUSION (DEI)?
DEI stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. The concept of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion ensures fair treatment and opportunity for all. It aims to eradicate prejudice and discrimination on the basis of an individual or group of individual’s protected characteristics. A workplace encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion can help: make a more successful working environment, and keep employees happy and motivated. Prioritizing diversity, equality (equity) and, inclusion in the workplace also helps an organization attract and retain talent. Prospective employees always want to work for companies that instate and practice these core values.
DEFINING DIVERSITY, EQUALITY AND INCLUSION
Diversity: Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. In a workplace, that can mean differences in age, ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class. This is when people from all different backgrounds come together. It aims to include people from different races, genders, religious beliefs, visible and invisible disabilities, class, or status.
Equality (Equity): The act of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual is Equality. It also means equality of opportunity: to ensure that those who may be disadvantaged can get the tools they need to access the same, fair opportunities as their peers.
Inclusion: Practicing diversity requires thoughtful inclusion. The practice that ensures people feel a sense of belonging in the workplace is Inclusion. This means that every employee feels comfortable and supported by the organization when it comes to being their authentic selves. Everyone must be recognized and appreciated for their talents, be provided with opportunities to get involved, and have their perspectives valued and heard.
WHY DIVERSITY MATTERS
Diversity is recognizing, respecting and celebrating each other’s differences. A diverse environment is one with a wide range of backgrounds and mindsets, which allows for an empowered working culture to help employees grow their creative and innovative side. It is a known fact that our vast and diverse human race has evolved into this well-oiled machine of progress and precision because each one of us brings something unique and valuable to the table. Research shows that when employed within a diverse working environment, employee performance is boosted. People feel appreciated rather than constrained, understanding that they will not miss out on promotion due to gender, race or disability. Individual progress is based upon ability and not stereotypical demographics.
When we think of diversity in the workplace, we often think of physical, visible differences. However, it’s important to be mindful of diversity of thought. From a business standpoint, different perspectives directly influence a product – how it’s made, who it serves, how it functions and so on. Tapping into the power of a diverse workforce, not only protects employees but also ensure that employers abide by rules such as:
- Workers of all genders are paid the same wage for doing the same job
- Physical disabilities do not prevent staff from carrying out their role
- Age is not used as a barrier where the employee has the necessary skills
- Promotion is not overlooked due to disability, gender or sexuality
WHY Equality MATTERS
At its core, equality means fairness: we must ensure that individuals, or groups of individuals, are not treated less favorably because of their individual characteristics. In order to ensure equal circumstances for all individuals across the organization, equity requires that employers recognize barriers and advantages. It also takes into account the fact that not everybody is starting at the same level.
The following characteristics are considered under Equality:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Discrimination on the grounds of any of these characteristics is also considered illegal. Discrimination can take many forms including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimization.
WHY INCLUSION MATTERS
Inclusive Workplace = Increased Performance.
Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. An inclusive environment can only be created once we are more aware of our unconscious biases, and have learned how to manage them.
The famous activist Jesse Jackson says, “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” Inclusion is what maintains diversity. Without it, employees will simply leave the organization. While the workplace does require professionalism and etiquette (i.e. no profane language or behavior), an inclusive culture should not bar individuals from being themselves. Employees should not worry about switching codes or shielding part of their identity. They should be able to walk through the door without feeling like something about them has to change. Even if our roles or job descriptions are technically the same on paper, no two people will ever perceive them in the same way. As values are shared amongst workers, aspects of fairness, respect and tolerance are promoted.
A workplace encouraging diversity, equality, and inclusion can help:
- Make completing goals more successful
- Keep employees happy and motivated
- Prevent serious or legal issues from arising
- Better serve a diverse range of customers
- Improve ideas and problem-solving
- Attract and keep good staff
- Better financial results
Simultaneously, they also see the following benefits:
● Absences decrease when employees are happy at work
● Teamwork and collaboration thrive in a diverse environment
● Employee loyalty and retention is strong when employees are understood
● Discrimination claims are less likely to occur with the correct policies and procedures in place
Embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, representation, and an overall sense of belonging can significantly change perceptions of the world around you and help you and your team work better.