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DEI in the workplace: all you need to know about diversity, equity, and inclusion at work


April 6, 2023


June 16, 2023

Is your workforce a mirror of our society? This article shares with you why it should be. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace become crucial pillars of a positive and successful work environment. On top of fighting against professional discrimination, the benefits of DEI in the workplace are countless for both employees and businesses. 

Taking this aspect into account makes organizations future-proof. Social justice is indeed a major expectation from young generations of workers like Millennials and Gen Z. Generation Z is the most diverse demographic group and standing up against social injustice and inequality is part of who they are. 

Although it is an important point, promoting a diverse, just, and inclusive work culture is not just an answer to employees’ expectations. Welcoming, treating all minorities impartially, and including them all in your team also boost productivity, reputation, company growth, and talent attraction. 

Let’s not be utopian. Behaving equally and fairly can raise some problems too. This is why the end of this article will provide you with key DEI practices. Here is everything you need to understand this topic better, navigate challenges, and make all your workers and business thrive.

Definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

Diversity in the workplace

Diversity in the workplace is related to hiring employees from all backgrounds and minorities to create a diverse workforce. The seven main types of diversity include the following characteristics: 

  • gender;
  • culture;
  • religion;
  • race;
  • disability;
  • sexual orientation;
  • age.

Yet, diversity is endless as we are all different and have unique traits. For example, you can build a team composed of introverts and extroverts, with parents and non-parents… But the seven categories mentioned above are usually the ones we refer to most. Workplace diversity aims to create a work environment where all communities are represented and welcome.

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Workplace equity

Yet, having a diverse team is only one part of creating a fairer world of work. The next step is to make it fair for all staff members. This is when workplace equity becomes crucial. Equity at work is “the quality of being fair or impartial.” In other words, employers and managers consider that not everyone starts from the same starting line. 

To lead equally and fairly, you must adjust to give everybody equal opportunities. Remember this sentence to understand the difference between equity vs. equality: “equality is giving everyone the same pair of shoes. Equity is giving everyone a pair of shoes that fits.”

Inclusion at work

The last step to creating a positive and fair work environment is to be inclusive. Inclusion at work implies welcoming all minorities and including them as much as any other community at every level of your organization. 

Team members are offered the same opportunities no matter their backgrounds, beliefs, ages, etc., and they are also treated evenly and respectfully. With an inclusive work culture, all employees feel a sense of belonging and have an equal chance to grow and thrive. 

Various approaches can foster workplace inclusion. We will share some of the best DEI practices at the end of this article. 

Hands in a circle different skint ones
Diverse group of employees

The benefits of implementing more diverse, fair, and inclusive practices at work

Improves employee experience and well-being

Implementing more diverse, fair, and inclusive practices at work is an employee-centric approach that improves the employee experience in various ways. First, minorities feel included and are on the same level as anybody else. Second, DEI initiatives become a major expectation for many workers from all backgrounds. 

Therefore, promoting a working environment where everybody is treated equally, fairly, and respectfully aligns your staff with the company’s values. It improves employee well-being and experience as everyone has equal opportunities to grow and thrive in their career. Also, social justice is crucial for younger generations, and DEI is committed to enhancing this aspect. 

Good to know: the Workforce Happiness Score is 10 points higher in diverse businesses.

Reduce employee turnover and attracts talent from all communities

Millennials and Gen Z (more than previous generations) make it a priority to work for a company that cares about social values and promotes DEI. Moreover, 50% of employees from the U.S., the U.K., France, and Germany (all ages) would like their company to do more in terms of inclusivity according to a Glassdoor Diversity and Inclusion study from 2019.

Consequently, having a DEI strategy is a real advantage in the labor market. On the one hand, it enables you to open your recruitment process to all communities. It increases your chances of finding the best match for your open positions. On the other hand, with 67% of job searchers declaring diversity as one of their top priorities, DEI practices are a solid magnet to retain and attract talent.

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Boost your employees’ performance and your company’s growth

Working with a diverse workforce and implementing DEI is the opportunity to benefit from a wide range of knowledge and experience. Brainstorming sessions with people from different backgrounds result in more innovative and creative ideas. It makes them more competitive, resourceful, and solution-oriented. 

Undoubtedly, this aspect boosts your employees’ performance and, ultimately, your company’s growth. Are you still unsure about this aspect? As highlighted in our previous article about the benefits of diversity in the workplace, statistics reveal the same conclusions: 

  • 78% of people think diversity and inclusion make a company more competitive.
  • Businesses with gender diversity make up to 25% more profit.
  • The chance of capturing new markets is 70% for organizations with a diverse workforce.

Reinforce workplace connection 

Workplace connection is fundamental for your staff to be loyal, engaged, and productive. You must create a bond between your business and the workforce to foster this aspect. This can be done through their job, relationships with peers, and the workplace itself. But employee experience is definitely a factor that helps enhance this link. As mentioned, DEI initiatives are essential to improve this characteristic. 

Most people are proud to work for an organization that cares and acts to build a more impartial and fair world. They feel aligned with the company’s values and connected to their colleagues. For minorities, seeing that everyone can reach the same goals no matter their background undoubtedly their experience and connection with the workplace.

Strengthens your brand image and reputation

More than ever, brand image and reputation are crucial aspects to consider as a business. Not only can social media also overthrow your reputation, but the good old “word of mouth” can destroy it too. 

The Abercrombie & Fitch documentary is the perfect example. For almost one hour and a half, the film reveals how this clothing brand performed discrimination and exclusion for years. It also highlights how difficult it can be for many people to connect to a brand when the company represents only one population group.

In a society where social justice, diversity, and inclusion matter more and more, not acting toward DEI can be badly perceived by employees, partners, and customers. 

Meets employees’ expectations and matches the trends of the future of work

The overall reason why implementing DEI in the workplace is important is because it is part of our future. Building a more just world is the common goal that many want to see. Young generations are well determined to succeed. The question is, are you meeting the expectations?

According to Zippia's study about Diversity in the Workplace Statistics 2023, 50% of American workers demand more DEI efforts at work. Moreover, Gen Z is the generation with the poorest mental health. Therefore, well-being initiatives are essential for this demographic group, which is also the most diverse generation ever. 

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion can positively affect your workforce's mental health. Like Millennials, they expect to see concrete actions that enhance fairness for all.

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Co-workers high-fiving
Diverse group celebrating team work

The potential challenges when introducing DEI in the workplace

Promoting DEI in the workplace requires rethinking old ways of doing things

Hiring a diverse team is not enough to tick the boxes of DEI. This could even be considered the easy part. But how do you apply equity and inclusivity in your workplace? Which adjustments do you have to make to give the same chances to all your team members? How do you help minorities to be included?

These changes don't happen overnight. They take time, and they sometimes imply making mistakes. The best way to improve is to always ask for the source's advice. It means including your workers in promoting DEI by asking them for their opinion and input. 

Fostering a diverse, fair, and inclusive culture means having everybody on the same page 

Although fostering a diverse, fair, and inclusive culture becomes a priority for the majority, some people might still be less eager to see these changes. As a leader, it is your role to make everybody understand the importance of DEI and the benefits that come with it. Communication is key as employees shouldn’t feel frustrated and unconsidered. To make it work and develop a safe and positive work environment for all, you need to have everyone on the same page. You can also organize team-building activities. They are indeed great to help workers break the ice and get to know each other better.

Problem of subjectivity 

When it comes to equity, subjectivity is a core topic. Fair practices imply taking each employee’s individuality and background into account. The problem is that something that might seem fair to one person may feel unfair to another. This is a sensitive and challenging aspect of workplace equity. Working with people sharing the same values and having transparent communication (from both sides) is more important than ever. If a subjective matter arises, here again, communication is key. 

Examples and best ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at work

Offer your staff to attend training about DEI in the workplace

We mentioned that DEI might not be perceived the same by all workers. To help your staff understand the importance of it, we recommend you attend with them training about DEI in the workplace. Experts can give them a clear insight, answer all their questions, and share valuable tips to introduce DEI practices. However, we also suggest participating in this type of training even if your workforce agrees 100% that their work environment should promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

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Diverse group of professional women discussing
Team engaging in DEI training

Create an office space that is fair and inclusive to all team members

When considering how to apply DEI in the workplace, office design might not be the first aspect that comes to mind. Yet, your workspace layout can be exclusive and unfair for some communities. For example, visually impaired employees can't feel included without having access to equipment adjusted to their needs. Translating all mural signs into braille is one of the many ways to support and retain them better, for instance.

Give a voice to all communities and minorities represented in your workforce 

As we suggested earlier, the best way to do things right regarding DEI is to get the information directly from the source. Nobody can answer your questions better than your team members. They can tell you how they feel at work and what could be done to boost DEI initiatives. In general, giving a voice to your staff is fundamental to increasing employee satisfaction and experience. But with DEI, it is even more crucial as it is an employee-centric approach. How can it be people-focused if workers are omitted in the process?

Implement DEI practices in as many aspects of your organization as you can 

There are endless ways to implement DEI practices, and they must be adapted to your workforce. Try to introduce them in as many aspects as you can. Of course, it doesn't need to be all at once. But removing discrimination, injustice, and unfairness is the ultimate goal. Here are a few examples of DEI initiatives in the workplace:

  • Allow employees to take some time off for the holidays of their own religion (Eid al-Fitr, Yom Kippur, Easter…).
  • Offer multiple food options at the cafeteria according to your workers' diets and beliefs (kosher, vegetarian, vegan…).
  • Encourage flexibility (stay with us, we will share with you why it can help with DEI in a second).
  • Require the use of inclusive language in all your communication at work.

The role of flexible work in enhancing DEI in the workplace

Offering work flexibility helps hire more diverse candidates

Flexible work arrangements enable you to build a diverse workplace more easily. On one hand, remote work allows you to hire people without being stopped by their living location. On the other hand, flexitime removes the time difference issues. Therefore, flexible work is crucial to reaching these talents as it lifts all geographical and timing barriers. For example, if your coworker Jenna lives two hours and a half away from the office. Being requested to come on-site only once weekly makes a massive difference compared to a classic working schedule.

⏩Read our article about flexitime and how it can benefit your business!

Remote work makes it easier to implement inclusion in the workplace

Flexible work also helps some communities to embrace the career they aspire to. For instance, it might be better for people with disabilities to work on a hybrid schedule. Like this, they can work from home if it's easier. 

You can also think about parents as another example. No matter their background, employees with children struggle to balance their professional lives with parenthood. Flexitime enables them to adjust their calendar to their kids' timetables. Less commuting allows them to have more time. They can spend it with their family, for personal activities unrelated to work or parenting, etc. And the list of examples goes on…

Have you learned more about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace? By now, we hope you are a DEI expert and have better knowledge to implement more initiatives. Do you want to keep offering your staff flexible work opportunities but need help running this working model? 

Request a free demo of the deskbird app. We will show you how our workspace management platform and its features help you get the most out of hybrid work and boost employee experience!

DEI in the workplace: all you need to know about diversity, equity, and inclusion at work

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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