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Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace

Increasingly, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a top priority at many workplaces both large and small. Smart employers are taking steps to identify and hire diverse candidates and creating environments where everyone can grow and thrive. They are also paying closer attention to those who sit on their boards and committees, making sure that membership includes a mix of people from different backgrounds, hold different ideas, and represent different groups throughout the community.

Ensuring that all employees have a safe space to learn, grow, voice their opinions, and feel valued is not only the right thing to do, it can also give your organization a competitive edge by attracting and retaining top talent, boosting productivity, and strengthening employee loyalty.

Research by Deloitte found that diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. Meanwhile, Gartner determined that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30 percent in high-diversity environments.

Yet, while the benefits are clear, creating a diverse and inclusive environment doesn’t happen by accident. It takes ongoing commitment, adherence to proven best practices, and a willingness to change. Yet, the effort can pay off big time by better positioning your company for growth, improved profitability, and future prosperity.

Diversity

A diverse workplace mirrors what the world really looks like today versus outdated perceptions that don’t reflect reality. And when you create a diverse workplace environment, your organization sends a clear message that it understands, values, and accepts the many differences your employees bring to their jobs.

Diversity is typically divided into two categories: inherent diversity and acquired diversity. Inherent diversity consists of demographic characteristics. While race, gender, and age are often the most common traits that come to mind, inherent diversity’s definition has evolved to include a much broader scope of meaning that includes other factors such as sexual orientation, socio-economic background, religion, and disability.

Acquired diversity are the traits an employee acquires from certain life experiences that led to them developing different mindsets and ways of thinking. Education backgrounds, marital status, familiarity with other cultures, and speaking differCompanies that truly want to foster diverse environments should fully understand the broad range of inherent and acquired diversity traits that employees bring to your organization.  ent languages are all traits associated with acquired diversity.

Companies that truly want to foster diverse environments should fully understand the broad range of inherent and acquired diversity traits that employees bring to your organization.  

Equity

Equity is often used interchangeably with equality. Yet, there is a difference. Equality has to do with giving everyone the exact same resources, whereas equity involves distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients.

With that in mind, equity in the workplace occurs when employees are empowered and provided the same resources and opportunities to grow and succeed in their careers as others do. Additionally, when there is equity in the workplace, there is a clear expectation that employees receive fair treatment.

Creating a culture that values equity helps assure that all employees have a clear sense that your company has their backs and is committed to making sure they have the tools and support necessary to reach their full potential.

Inclusion

Few of us make it through childhood without feeling the pain and disappointment of not being included or accepted by a particular group.

In the grown-up world, feeling left out still stings. And when it happens in the workplace, whether overtly or subtly, it can create a toxic culture of resentment and distrust that can lead to high turnover, low morale, and ultimately, poor business results. 

Conversely, inclusive environments are spaces that embrace the full range of cultural differences and support and value its employees' different perspectives. In inclusive environments, employees feel welcomed, appreciated, and respected.. This, in turn, can drive innovation by drawing from a wider range of ideas and insights from people with varied backgrounds, work history, and life experiences. Inclusion gives people a sense of security and genuine confidence that their voices will be heard and taken seriously leading to bolder ideas and more meaningful collaboration.

Creating an inclusive workplace can be a game-changer for your company. Gartner found that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30 percent in high-diversity environments.

Want to know if you’re providing a diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment? Explore  7 survey templates from SurveyMonkey to help you to measure DEI in your workplace.

Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace

There are many advantages to emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace. According to Forbes, inclusive companies are more likely to hit financial goals and have better business outcomes. Meanwhile, research conducted by Gallup found that companies that had higher-than-average gender diversity and employee engagement also had 46% to 58% better financial performance than companies that were below the median on diversity and engagement.

Studies have also shown that diverse groups tend to outperform high-ability groups. A study performed by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) tested this theory and found that, in short, “diversity trumps ability.”

Increasing the diversity of your leadership team and board can also reap big dividends. For starters, it sends a clear message to all of your employees and your other audiences that your entire organization is embracing diversity and inclusion. Beyond that, the benefits can impact your bottom line.

A report from McKinsey & Company shows that companies with diverse executive boards and senior-level management increase earnings and profitability. Companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to experience above-average profits and later increased to 21%. Executive teams with more cultural and ethnic diversity were 33 percent more likely to see better-than-average profits.

And diversity and inclusion can be a powerful tool in driving stronger sales. In a study of more than 500 companies, McKinsey found that every 1% increase in gender and racial diversity correlated to a 3% to 9% increase in sales revenue.

A commitment to diversity and inclusion should not only focus on who is working within your organization, but also vendors and suppliers who your company is working with. In 2020, SurveyMonkey launched a Supplier Diversity Initiative that encourages companies to join forces to push for greater diversity and inclusion at vendor organizations. 

Unlike past vendor diversity programs (which typically only track minority ownership), this initiative uses the Supplier Diversity survey to track representation of women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals within a vendor’s employee base, leadership team, and board of directors, for a more holistic understanding. It also evaluates vendor policies and practices to determine how inclusive they are.

Tips for cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion

The following are helpful tips to increase DEI and make sure that your organization remains diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Get visibility on areas for improvement – It’s difficult to address an issue if you are unaware of it. Creating a workplace that embraces DEI requires shining light on any potential blind spots that may exist. In particular, organizations need to be aware of potential unconscious bias, in which some individuals within the organization make decisions and take actions based on biases in which they are not consciously aware of, but can have an adverse impact on other individuals.

Write job postings carefully – A poorly crafted job description runs the risk of turning off some strong potential candidates who might detect language that does not resonate with them.  It's important to keep inclusivity in mind to write an equitable job description. You want to make sure that all potential candidates feel like they have a fair chance at getting their foot in the door.

Emphasize in your job descriptions that DEI is valued by your organization and also aim for language that is free of bias regarding race, gender or age. 

Textio is an AI-powered writing-enhancement service that analyzes job descriptions in real-time, highlighting jargon and words often perceived as masculine or feminine. For instance, terms such as “proven” or “under pressure” tend to attract more male candidates and prompt some female candidates to look elsewhere. Meanwhile, Textio found that the simple act of swapping out “exceptional” for “extraordinary” was statistically proven to attract more female applicants. Textio also noted a correlation between gender-neutral descriptions and a broader applicant pool, in addition to faster time to fill, versus jobs using biased language.

Offer workplace policies that appeal to diverse candidates – All talk and no action can be problematic when it comes to trying to create a diverse and inclusive environment that attracts and retains top talent. Policies such as work/life balance and flexible scheduling, for instance, have been found to be more important among Millennials and women. Offering floating holidays signal that you recognize that not all of your employees celebrate the holidays.

By highlighting in the job description, you are speaking to your company’s mission and values, while at the same time creating opportunities for more applicants.

Use a personality assessment to recruit more diverse candidates – Personality assessments are great tools to measure personality traits among your candidates, and they are reliable. These assessments can increase workplace diversity because research has found that personality traits do not differ between groups of people. A study of 150 companies found that companies who used personality assessments in their hiring process had more racially diverse workforces.

Use sourcing methods that contain more diverse candidate pipelines – People’s networks generally consist of other people who share similar demographics, leading to a less-than-diverse workplace. Data from LinkedIn found that women are less likely to rely on their own networks during their job search and more likely to use third-party websites and job boards.

As your workforce becomes more diverse, make sure that it is simple and easy for all employees to refer potential candidates. And to meet diverse candidates where they are, try utilizing third-party websites to post your job announcements.

Conduct inclusive interviews – The path to a more diverse and inclusive company starts with the recruiting and hiring process. You want to be careful not to let “interview bias” affect hiring decisions. Interview bias occurs when the interviewer judges a candidate not only on their skills and competencies but also on unspoken (and sometimes unconscious) criteria.

For instance, an interviewer may reject or downgrade a candidate based on the simple fact that they kept their arms crossed during an interview or had a unique hairstyle.  

This kind of unconscious bias in interviewing often leads to bad hiring decisions followed by high turnover rates. Its has a negative impact on the efforts companies make to bring more diversity to their workforce and become more inclusive.

Inclusive interviews are a process to connect with, interview, and hire diverse individuals through understanding and valuing their different backgrounds and beliefs. These interviews should include the opportunity for candidates to meet and engage with different kinds of people within the organization.

Including employees from different departments to be a part of the interview process can help root out any bias while clearly demonstrating to candidates that you have a diverse workforce.

Become comfortable with “uncomfortable” topics – Unfortunately, as humans, we do not have the answers to everything. Which is why it is okay to ask genuine questions can help you overcome uncomfortable moments regarding DEI.

Asking questions like, “What are the biggest barriers to your success and what role can I play in helping to remove them?” and “Do you feel safe enough to take risks at work? To contribute? To belong to the community?” Framing questions in these ways can lead to more in-depth conversations around some sensitive topics. At the same time, they send a message that you care about your employees and want to address any of their concerns.

Create a “safe space” culture where vulnerability is honored and celebrated – Your employees are at their best when they can be themselves and are comfortable bringing their authentic selves to their workplace. It helps to aim to make your company a “safe space” where employees can voice their opinions and demonstrate their creativity and unique perspectives without feeling reticent, ashamed, or embarrassed. Over time, employees working in this type of environment will likely engage and participate more. That can unearth fresh thinking and new ideas that can be a significant competitive advantage over companies where employees don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Measure the success of your initiatives – You can measure DEI by looking at inclusion, retention, and employee advancement to better measure your initiatives. Using data to define your goals, measuring outcomes at all levels of your organization, and using surveys to measure inclusion are all sure ways of measuring success.

Highlight your company’s diverse culture through outreach – When you highlight some of your workplace policies and benefits, you show people how much your company values DEI and implements it into the culture. Look for ways to highlight your diversity and inclusion efforts by highlighting programs and success stories through your marketing, public relations and community outreach efforts. Make sure that the topic gets coverage in your annual report and brochures and other materials that are shared at jobs fairs and community events.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace will help you attract and retain great talent, drive innovation, improve performance and productivity, and generate financial results that can help you fly past your competitors. Regardless of where you are on your DEI journey, there are always opportunities for improvement and growth.

SurveyMonkey is now part of Momentive, maker of AI-driven insights and experience management solutions built for the pace of modern business. Check out Momentive for solutions to help you to better understand DEI in your organization and the impact that it has on your employees.

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