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Why Do Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Remain Vital in Today’s Workplace? Four Ways to Get Started on DEI

By Nirupa Netram, Esq.

Did you know that 76% of job seekers and employees said a diverse workforce is essential when evaluating companies and job offers, as Glassdoor’s 2020 Diversity Hiring Survey reported? Additionally, 32% would not apply for a job at a company where the workforce lacks diversity.

By 2028, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population is projected to be higher than ever since 1850, according to 2020 Census data. According to the same data, net international migration is expected to be the primary driver of U.S. population growth by 2030.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a way to help meet the needs of people who are rapidly moving here and those who are already here.

What does DEI mean? Diversity means differences, such as diversity of identity (race, ethnicity, gender, generation, religion, education, ability, socioeconomic status, etc.) and diversity of perspective (different thoughts). This boils down to acknowledging and respecting our differences, those that are visible and those that are invisible. Equity means people have access to opportunities, resources, and support that they need. Inclusion is when everyone feels a sense of belonging, value, and respect.  

Countless studies discuss the business benefits of having DEI. This includes less turnover, a broader talent pool, increased employee engagement, greater customer satisfaction, improved leadership, increased profits, greater innovation, and more. Both employees and customers are demanding DEI in the workplace. Below are four ways to implement DEI in your workplace.

  1. Conduct a DEI assessment to understand your organization’s current state and any gaps.
    Conducting a DEI assessment is a critical step in understanding the current state of DEI and any gaps in DEI within your organization. This process comprehensively evaluates workforce data, policies, practices, and employee perceptions, experiences, and attitudes.

    The assessment provides valuable insights into areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, helping to inform strategic planning and action steps towards creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment for all employees.

    Assessing DEI is an ongoing process, requiring regular re-evaluation to track progress and make any adjustments.
  2. Create a DEI strategy, goals, action plan, and metrics that align with your organization’s vision, mission, and values.
    Creating a DEI strategy, goals, and action plan aligning with an organization’s vision, mission, and values is crucial to fostering an inclusive culture.

    The strategy should outline clear objectives and initiatives that promote diversity and ensure equity and inclusion at all levels of your organization. It should be integrated into the broader organizational strategy, reflecting the commitment to DEI in every aspect of the business, from recruitment and retention to leadership development and employee and customer engagement.

    Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, inclusive, and equitable (SMARTIE). The action plan should detail steps, responsibilities, timelines, and resources to achieve the DEI goals. There should also be metrics to track progress and outcomes.

    Regularly monitoring these metrics provides a data-driven approach to understanding the impact of DEI initiatives, identifying areas for improvement, and holding the organization accountable for progress.

    At least quarterly, communicating the DEI strategy, goals, and metrics is essential to ensure collective understanding and commitment to an inclusive workplace.
  3. Engage and empower employees at all levels to contribute to DEI efforts.
    Engaging and empowering employees at all levels to contribute to DEI efforts is vital for fostering an inclusive culture.

    This involves creating opportunities for employees to voice their experiences, ideas, and concerns and actively involve them in DEI decision-making processes. Employee resource groups (ERGs), which are voluntarily led employee groups, or diversity committees/councils are platforms for this engagement.

    Recognizing and rewarding contributions to DEI can also motivate continued employee involvement. Every employee plays a role in shaping workplace culture, and their active participation is critical to your organization’s DEI efforts.
  4. Provide ongoing education to foster a culture of continuous learning.
    Ongoing DEI education, through training, workshops, and coaching, is essential in fostering a continuous learning culture. They help to create an environment where individuals of all backgrounds feel valued and included.

    Additionally, they promote understanding and respect for different perspectives, experiences, and ideas. DEI education provides individuals with tools to recognize and interrupt biases, microaggressions, stereotypes, etc. It encourages open dialogue and critical thinking about issues facing today’s workers. Ongoing education broadens one’s worldview and fosters increased empathy towards others.

Conclusion

In an increasingly globalized world, workplaces are becoming more diverse, and organizations must reflect this diversity. DEI initiatives not only foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment, but they also drive innovation, creativity, and productivity.

A diverse workforce brings together various perspectives, experiences, and ideas, leading to more innovative solutions to business challenges.

Equity ensures that all employees have equal access to opportunities and resources, which is fundamental for maintaining employee morale and productivity.

Inclusion creates a sense of employee belonging, improving job satisfaction and employee retention. Moreover, organizations prioritizing DEI are more likely to attract and retain top talent, as job seekers value workplaces committed to these principles. Therefore, DEI is not just a moral imperative—it’s a business imperative for every organization.

Nirupa Netram

Nirupa Netram is an Attorney of over 25 years, a Mediator, an Arbitrator, and a Globally Certified Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Workplace Professional. She is CEO of Lotus Solutions LLC, a Florida-Certified Minority and Women-Owned Business, where she does consulting, customized training and workshops, coaching, and keynote speeches in DEI, leadership development, and more. Connect with Nirupa via email at nirupa@lotussolutions.biz, through her webpage www.lotussolutions.biz, by phone at 941-564-7869, on Twitter @LotusSLLC, or on LinkedIn