Over the last few years, many companies have been prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recent events and movements have many businesses rethinking their approaches to diversity. Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is more than posting a platitude on Instagram. There is major room for improvement in actual ideas that companies implement to include these values. Not only is diversity, equity, and inclusion important for you, but it also fosters better employee engagement and improved abilities to problem-solve. It could even positively impact innovation and financial performance. Diverse employees who are being treated equally bring different skills, talents, and perspectives to their work. At the American Marketing Association, we are believers in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and are participating in several community initiatives, offering online training, and creating content to work toward a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace for marketers across the country.
What Does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Mean?
It is no secret that the U.S. has struggled for a long time with adopting the core principles of DEI, or diversity, equity, and inclusion. But there are several reasons to pursue a more diverse and equal workplace. Beyond DEI’s altruistic principles, it is good for businesses financially.
However, all too often, these keywords are thrown around by companies in a performative way without backing them up with policies or considering what they mean. So let’s define these terms so you know how to implement them in your workplace:
Diversity in the workplace might refer to race, ethnicity, age, citizenship status, education, income, skills, or beliefs.
Equity in the workplace, on the other hand, refers to fairness and equality in the workplace and leveling the playing field.
Inclusion in the workplace means providing everyone with equal access to opportunities and resources. It means giving traditionally marginalized groups based on gender, race, or disabilities a means to feel equal in your workplace.
There are several benefits beyond the obvious to promoting DEI in any workplace:
Some statistics prove that businesses that focus on diversifying their workforce make more money. McKinsey’s report from May 2020, “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters” found that companies with more than 30% women were more likely to outperform companies with fewer women. Also, companies that ranked in the top-quartile with ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36%.
A more equitable work environment that offers inclusive benefits, equal salaries, and comprehensive policies will appeal to more candidates.
Every workplace can benefit from the fresh ideas that come from a more diverse group of employees working together. Diverse teams are also better at making decisions, according to a study from Cloverpop.
Many companies express a desire to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, but are unsure of the path to create a more diverse and equitable company. We have actionable ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace.
The best way to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is simple: it’s with funding. Put your money where your mission statement is! One way to see if your workplace is really prioritizing diversity is via its budget. If you invest in DEI, you will see an improvement in your ROI.
Another excellent way to promote DEI is via recruitment. Recruitment is an excellent path to change. There are several ways to hire for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, personal referrals can be an issue if your company isn’t already diverse and can perpetuate the cycle of hiring the same types of people. It can help to have a diverse panel of interviewers and mandate that at least one diverse candidate is interviewed for each open position.
Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone has some biases. It’s part of being human. Unconscious biases (sometimes also called implicit bias) are the attitudes we have subconsciously that affect the way we think and feel about others around us. The first step toward affecting change is understanding our unconscious biases and building awareness. One way to address unconscious bias is to ask employees to review, question, and analyze their personal biases and assumptions.
One of the most important ways to promote equity in the workplace is by paying employees the same for the same roles or responsibilities. If any pay gaps exist in your company, you should address them right away. According to Payscale, 66% of employers plan to address pay equity in 2022. If women or minorities are being underpaid in any area of your business, it is important to fix that immediately.
A diversity training program helps your company as a whole understand how our differences can affect how people work and interact at work. Diversity training can cover a wide range of topics, including communication styles, dealing with conflict, and more. Your own diversity training should be relevant to your own company.
To make all employees and customers feel included and welcome, it is important to acknowledge holidays of all cultures and religions as much as possible. This is an excellent way to foster inclusivity and build awareness. Ask people their plans for celebrating upcoming holidays, use your intranet to track various religious and cultural celebrations, and be respectful of employees’ holiday time when scheduling meetings and other events. It is also crucial to acknowledge these holidays externally. For example, posting about the holidays on your company’s social media platforms or website.
Take a look over your company policies and ensure that they adhere to, if not promote, the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Older policies can be problematic.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion go beyond just Black History Month and International Women’s Day. Major DEI changes don’t occur in any workplace overnight. Track your benchmarks to assess how your efforts are working to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace.
Here are just a few great examples of equity in the workplace. How many of these is your workplace already doing? Which would be easy to implement?
Don’t expect a wide range of diverse candidates to go out and find you on their own. Make sure your jobs are promoted widely and that your application materials are accessible to all. (This means including non-web-based ways to apply.)
Accessible job descriptions also mean having transparency around the wages offered in order to make it fair. That’s why salary ranges should always be listed on job descriptions.
Education-based hiring is difficult because not everyone has access to higher education. This shouldn’t necessarily bar them from access to work if they still have the necessary skills to do the job. If possible in your industry, emphasize skills and work experience over education. Or even better, consider adding a workforce education program to your workplace, if you don’t already have one. This allows your employees to earn a degree while still working for you.
Not all incentives offered by companies (i.e., alcohol-based and formal events) appeal to all employees. It is important to design your events around diversity and inclusion. Make sure your incentives offered are something that can be enjoyed by anyone. (Hint: most people like financial incentives most!)
Many companies provide excellent resources and opportunities for their employees, but it is also key to ensure that access to those resources and opportunities is available to all. For example, is your office wheelchair-friendly? Do you offer closed captions on your video presentations? Does your office have adequate accommodations for employees with sensory sensitivities?
If you want to be truly equitable, it’s not about just offering certain resources and benefits to employees, but also encouraging employees to take advantage of these advantages. Make sure they know about the resources and how to access them.
Benefits like health insurance should not just be available to straight spouses, but also same-sex couples and non-traditional families.
One way to increase diversity at your company is to form a diversity group, or Employee Resource Group, to allow them to dive deeper into DEI throughout the organization. Your employees are your best assets. A diversity group is usually organized to create belonging among underrepresented employees.
The American Marketing Association is committed to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are hosting the inaugural Diversity Leadership Institute this June to help participants meet and interact with marketing students from historically underrepresented communities in the marketing field, among other DEI efforts.