Employees Are Happier When Companies Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — also known as DEI, is not a trend that we’re going to see fade away. Top employees and “A-players” increasingly are demanding that their employers prioritize DEI efforts across their organizations. 80% of employees would prefer to work in a company that values DEI.
Companies that don’t adapt to the needs of their top talent in the workforce may see a dip in productivity, good employees leaving for better opportunities, and may even see catastrophic results due to their inability to adapt.
So what exactly is DEI? Diversity, equity, and inclusion are fancy words that can seem to be used a lot, but their weight is heavy. And it’s precisely that heaviness that requires a deep commitment to its efforts as well.
Defining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity means that a variety of experiences and people are welcomed throughout the company. This can be people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as people with different abilities, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, or gender. But diversity without inclusion is just performative optics. Inclusion welcomes people from diverse backgrounds to a seat at the table throughout the business’s hierarchy, including leadership and board positions.
Equity is where the real work lies. Diversity and inclusion without equity are problematic because they can propel people into positions while overlooking otherwise qualified people. Equity is similar to equality in that it prioritizes and supports the idea that everyone has the same access to opportunity. But unlike equality, equity realizes that the playing field isn’t at the same level for everyone. Equity means meeting people where they are based on their circumstances, not assuming everyone has the same starting position.
A simple form of equity in action would be not requiring candidates to have four-year degrees for skilled positions. This allows folks who have decided—or were unable—to receive higher degrees access to jobs they would otherwise be excluded from given their experience.
So why do employees demand DEI efforts from their employers? We’re at a cultural shift both in the workplace and beyond and people want to work for institutions that align with their values as well as offer learning opportunities for them to grow both personally and professionally.
Happiness & Success Go Hand in Hand
Employees who say their company supports DEI efforts have also reported that they are happier in their jobs, feel like they are growing, and like where they work. While the happiness of your workforce should be important, implementing DEI efforts actually can have a greater impact on your business as a whole, too.
Diversity Brings Innovation
When you have a variety of people from different backgrounds and experiences, they will bring different solutions and ideas to the table. This sort of innovation is crucial in a changing market, especially as we adapt to a world post-pandemic. When employees have different lived experiences they offer unique solutions to the table. If your leadership and/or workforce is homogenous and shares similar backgrounds, it’s likely innovation and resilience will be at a standstill, eventually.
Equity Changes the World
When companies and the private sector acknowledge that people don’t all share the same access to opportunity, it can set the example for a greater world, with policies —both administrative and legislative — that support lifting people up from all backgrounds. The private sector is known for its innovation and resilience to the market; the sector often influences large legislative decisions. When companies start to listen to their employees, the world can quite literally change, bit by bit.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are here to stay. America’s workforce wants the companies they work for to take a stance on social and political issues. Employees want to work for a company that values them as an individual, for their uniqueness and talent as well as their professional skills.
Folks in c-suite and executive positions should take note. We are shifting towards a values-driven market —if we haven’t already. And company leaders need to get on board in order to foster innovation, productivity, and ultimately a more just world for everyone.