There’s no denying that today we live in interesting times. From the global rise of immigration to movements like Black Live Matter and geopolitical events such as Brexit, previously overlooked minority groups are gaining renewed interest as equal rights, feminism, racism, and socio-economic inequalities are put under the microscope.
While your workplace may not be directly affected by these notable shifts, employees are calling for more diversity in the workplace and many organisations are listening. Now is the right time for organisational leaders to make DEI a priority that’s not just limited to words as many employees and industry experts are closely watching to see the results.
Why does DEI in the workplace matter?
Why does DEI matter in the workplace? Should we care? Is DEI something that should be promoted because it’s the right thing to do or does it have any business value? — It’s both.
Inclusive teams help fight workplace discrimination and businesses give more prominence to creating equal opportunities for all employees—even those belonging to routinely underrepresented groups.
In fact, there are a multitude of examples where diversity in the workplace is undervalued and companies fail to take diverse voices into account. A few years ago reports emerged of a black person struggling to use an automatic soap dispenser as the light sensor didn’t detect dark skin. This highlighted the importance of not just having a diverse workforce but also the manufacturer’s failure to test the product before introducing it to a market of diverse consumers.
This scenario shows that DEI isn’t just about morality, when you have diverse voices in your organisation you learn things that you may not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. It helps you build better products and increase equity not just in the workplace but beyond.
DEI also helps companies reflect on societies more accurately, speak to a larger audience, and generate more creative and profitable ideas.
Why should organisations promote DEI at work?
Whether you’re looking to improve your company culture, improve productivity, or lower turnover rates, a strong DEI strategy can be great for your employees—but also for your business.
Let’s look at some of the ways that organisations can create a DEI-friendly workplace.
Promote a sense of belonging
Studies show that when employees feel that they belong and are being valued, they are more likely to be engaged with their work and become more productive. There’s something to be said for a strong DEI presence in the workplace as it also has the potential to elevate employee morale.
Workplaces that thrive on diversity and inclusivity can foster community and collaboration, making employees feel more comfortable working together to achieve common goals. DEI strategies aren’t limited to just creating a diverse workforce, it’s also about giving all employees the same access to resources and establishing safe workplaces where employees can openly discuss their concerns.
Using DEI to tackle burnout
In 2020 the UK-based statistics revealed that nearly 80% of employees experienced stress at work, and 60% stated that it has negative effects on them. This is a widespread problem that can have serious consequences such as increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased stress.
Inclusive workplaces have the capacity to help reduce burnout and build more positive workplaces. This can help improve employee motivation and morale.
Protecting company culture with DEI
Workplace culture is a combination of beliefs, values, and behaviours that make up the social and psychological environment of an organisation. If you’re focused on creating a positive culture in the workplace, then having all types of diversity represented is essential since you get a group of people with the diverse backgrounds, skills, experiences, and perspectives required to build a successful company in the modern business landscape.
Equity ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities irrespective of their circumstances or background. Maintaining an inclusive workplace allows everyone to feel empowered in voicing their opinions and sharing their ideas.
When employees feel comfortable, company culture improves and everyone has a sense of belonging. A lack of diversity leads to an overabundance of ‘Yes’ men who agree with each other with no concern for alternative perspectives.
Final thoughts on DEI in the workplace from Kinhub
The Equality Act 2010 is the primary legislation that governs equality and diversity in the UK—but it isn’t perfect especially since there isn’t a strict requirement outside of the common requirements of non-discrimination.
Even though there may be no strong regulations around DEI, organisations can still execute strategies that can be implemented with the support of the entire team to foster diverse cultures that not only benefit employees but organisations as well.