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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Corporate America is becoming more globally-focused than ever. As a business, considering other cultures, races, religions and beliefs provides varying perspectives, while enhancing the overall work experience. But what does diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) look like? We’ve broken down each aspect of DEI and provided ways to practice and integrate these values into your workplace.

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and why is it important?

According to Training Industry, “DEI is a term used to describe programs and policies that encourage representation and participation of diverse groups of people, including people of different genders, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations and people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and expertise.”  

In order to improve DEI in the workplace, you must commit to understanding what informs others’ worldviews and enable them with the resources needed to perform their best individually and collectively. This not only makes employees feel valued, but improves business operations as a whole. Statistically, diversity drives innovation up 20%, allowing professionals to learn from differing viewpoints and expand their ways of thinking creatively and strategically.

DEI and hiring

As of 2021, 67% of individuals said they value diversity when considering job opportunities and are looking for an employer committed to this corporate responsibility. When it comes to creating a diverse roster of talented employees, it’s important to be aware of how biases affect our interactions and decision making. Learning to remove any biases or preconceived perceptions/opinions from the recruitment process can help to ensure everyone who interviews is assessed fairly.

There are tangible takeaways that will help you navigate the hiring experience. One of those ways starts with the job description.Using inclusive verbiage and being intentional when crafting these will keep you from marginalizing certain groups of people, showing a level of awareness and intentionality. 

Secondarily, sticking to a set list of interview questions will keep you from diverging into conversations that might subconsciously sway your hiring decisions. By taking this approach, you will know that you treated each candidate justly. As an employer of interest, prospective candidates want to know your approach to DEI and your commitment to be a leader in this area. Companies who engage in DEI practices and create a safe space for all employees will reap the benefits, culturally and financially.

Leading the way

To administer change through DEI, you must make it a top priority within your everyday operations and team of employees. Fostering authentic and open dialogue with one another often creates sustainable change on-the-job and beyond. Listening to others, providing helpful feedback, and being able to view things in a new light will inherently make you a more well-rounded employee.

When it comes to stereotypes, biases and microaggressions within the organization, many people are scared to have the crucial conversations needed to improve the hostile environment they’re in. Should misconduct with a co-worker take place, make sure everyone knows the next steps in handling the situation. Clearly verbalizing your non-discrimination policy and what is culturally acceptable can help. State in your employee handbook what is expected, and inform each individual on how to process a grievance or request an investigation if needed. 

Investing in change

In order to actively grow as a team, continually explore how to invest in your people. This could be from how you physically design your building to accommodate everyone using it, to providing tailored training, professional audits and DEI workshops. This allows employees to reach beyond their comfort zones to consider how each individual’s personal background can inform the work they provide.

According to an article written for Society for Human Resource Management, 90% of companies examined said employee resource groups (ERGs) helped new hires adapt to their work settings more easily and 70% of organizations surveyed used ERGs to help understand the audiences they are trying to reach.

Employee resource groups are formed to help team members connect and support one another through shared life experiences based on similar backgrounds or demographics (race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, shared interests, etc.). These employee-led communities exist to facilitate opportunities for minorities to have open conversations with others to see how effective their DEI practices are. ERGs typically take form through focus groups, volunteer initiatives, professional development opportunities and through conversations with decision-makers in a company.

DEI is not just a professional matter, but an important practice to infiltrate into our daily lives. At ACU, we believe every person is created in the image of God. We acknowledge the importance of celebrating what makes us different from one another and how those differences can help us collaborate positively. Learn how ACU is creating opportunities for learning and growth when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

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