Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are no longer buzzwords in the business world, they are commitments and keys to success. Business leaders are realizing that when DEI is made a priority, it makes a difference in every facet of a company.
A study by McKinsey & Company and the Society of Human Resource Management showed that a commitment to diversity correlates with better financial performance. They found that companies that display gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to outperform less diverse organizations by up to 35%. Companies with more gender and racial diversity bring in more revenue, more customers and higher profits.
Despite these benefits, few companies know what steps to take to create and foster diverse teams. Small businesses can start by investing in a wider variation of talent, who have broader knowledge, experience and expertise.
But DEI does not stop there. To truly reap the benefits of DEI in your company, follow these seven DEI principles to promote a culture where diversity is embraced, equity is taken seriously, and inclusion is the policy.
- Help others feel like they belong. Your workers want to feel welcomed, appreciated and respected for their ideas and contributions. When you hire, make it clear your company makes every effort to make others feel like they belong by introducing team members to each other using inclusive language like “This is Maria — she is a part of our product team.” The word “our” emphasizes the feeling of being on a team.
- Demonstrate empathy when leading others. When leading others, keep an eye out for signs of overworked team members and show sincere interest in helping them with their needs. To be effective, be willing to help an employee with personal problems where and when you can.
- Take responsibility in your work culture. Conflict is a natural communication effect between people. When conflicts arise, they can become great opportunities to learn something new and expand solutions. This approach requires you to take responsibility in your work culture and create a safe psychological space for ideas and debates to happen.
- Understand diversity, equity and inclusion goes beyond hitting your numbers. Workers who are members of diverse communities can tell when a company is simply trying to meet its diversity quota. How do they know? The first clue is when any of these principles are absent in the workplace. Commitment to advancing DEI in your company requires the leaders to understand that workers are not just numbers, they are humans.
- Grow your self-awareness and find ways to learn from others. The biggest benefit to advancing diversity in your company is the sharing of ideas to complex solutions. A variety of backgrounds, experiences and knowledge can take the collective creativity of your company to a new level. This is the key to outperforming your competitors. Encourage your workers to learn from each other and become self-aware of any biases that prevent cohesion on a team.
- Create harmonious work environments by listening and sharing without judgment. Psychological safety requires two important things to create equality in conversation: turn-taking and ostentatious listening by paraphrasing or removing distractions. You create a much more productive and harmonious environment when team members can share ideas equally and listen to each other with intent.
- Foster personal and professional growth in your teams. Continuous learning is key to promote an environment where team members can grow. Provide opportunities to learn in the workplace by encouraging team members to attend webinars, start book clubs or engage in employee resource groups.
These principles are just the beginning to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment. By no means does this list suggest it is easy to do. Employees and senior management need to have clear expectations about DEI goals and communicate the same to the whole company. Companies should track data and feedback from their teams to become inclusive, strong and consistent leaders in the 21st century economy.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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