I’ve been lucky enough to work with companies that are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They have a DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) team whose job is to make sure everyone feels welcome and valued. DEI benefits the company by making it easier for us to collaborate with other teams with different backgrounds than ours. It also helps each person feel more comfortable sharing their ideas so we can all get better at our jobs.
DEI is a set of practices that help create a more inclusive workplace. It’s about making sure everyone can do their best work, and it’s about creating a workplace where everyone can succeed.
DEI is about inclusion. You can’t be included in the conversation if you’re not in the room. Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is an ongoing process that requires active engagement from all employees to reflect on and improve:
- organizational practices
- expand access to opportunities
- promote equitable treatment
- foster fair decision-making
- increase accountability for results
- strengthen collaborations across differences
- build trust among colleagues, communities, and partners
- achieve mutual respect for each other’s differences while valuing strengths based on those differences such as race/ethnicity/gender identity/sexual orientation/age (etc.)
“D” is for Diversity – Variety is a good thing.
Diversity is truly about having a mix of people with different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. Diversity also means having a mix of people with different skills, talents, and passions. Diversity is not just about race, gender, or sexual orientation—it’s about having a diverse group of people who are bringing their unique contributions to the table. Having variety is a good thing.
“E” is for Equity
Equity is about giving everyone what they need to succeed. It’s about making sure that everyone has the same opportunities and access to resources.
Equity is not just a buzzword; it’s something we can all do our part to promote and support in our organization. In order for us all to be successful as an organization, we need to make sure that people have their needs met so they can thrive and grow in their roles, regardless of their background or personal experience.
“I” is for Inclusion
Inclusion is about making sure everyone feels welcome and valued. It’s not about creating a policy or building a program, but rather it’s about changing culture and mindsets. Inclusion is not a destination; it’s a process that never ends because we need to keep working on making people feel included every day. Inclusion is something you do, not something you have or doesn’t have—it’s an action that requires constant attention to keep improving the way you interact with others in the workplace, at home, and in your community. That means that we all need to work together to ensure safety and comfort for everyone, regardless of their identity (e.g., gender identity or expression).
Suppose everyone feels safe at work and can be themselves without fear of judgment or retaliation. In that case, they will thrive in their role as colleagues and friends outside of work hours.
DEI is More than Just Showing Up
Don’t just show up to the table; engage with your coworkers, partners, and customers from different backgrounds. Be open to learning from others and being challenged. Have patience in hearing different perspectives. And although you may really want to hold on, let go and be open to changing your mind about the way things are done at your company, even if it means having uncomfortable conversations with management or your colleagues about why certain practices need changing in order for DEI efforts at the company level (and beyond) to work effectively.
Your Next Steps with DEI
DEI requires awareness and a mindful approach to understand and embrace our differences. We all need to take the time to learn about the experiences of others, even if we do not share those same experiences.
Ask yourself these questions:
“What are some things I can do to learn about the experiences of others?”
“What can I do to ensure everyone feels included and valued in my workplace?”
“What can I do to ensure everyone has the same opportunities and access to resources?”
If you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay! We’re here to help you get started on your DEI journey.