Creating a culture of inclusion in 2023
Creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has long been a business priority, and increasingly so as employers realise the benefits to both employees and the business bottom line.
One study revealed that businesses with the highest gender diversity were 25% more profitable than those not focusing on diversity, while companies with diverse, inclusive teams have up to 20% higher rates of innovation.
Underrepresented groups – as well as workers with previous experiences of exclusion and discrimination – are also more likely to be attracted to organisations with diverse cultures, inclusive programmes, and leadership that is supportive of them. In fact, 67% of employers in the UK believe their DEI strategy is vital in attracting new talent.
However, it isn't enough for leaders to care about diversity because it's a buzzword. Many companies make promises about DEI but fail to follow through on them, especially as current economic uncertainty is seeing organisations put people initiatives, like DEI, on the backburner due to perceived budgetary constraints.
Instead, moving into 2023, it is a necessity for organisations to put DEI front and centre, to reimagine their cultures, leadership, and values in ways that truly show an investment in diversity across the whole organisation. While businesses work to implement successful human capital management programmes, they must do so in a way that reflects the increasingly diverse workforce around them. Here are some top tips for implementing a DEI programme that makes a difference:
5 steps for implementing an effective DEI programme
- Define the purpose, mission, and values of the DEI strategy. Identify the ‘why’ behind the implementation and development of your DEI programme. Whatever the reason, it should align with your organisation’s strategic plan, mission, vision, and values, so that the strategy can grow and evolve as your organisation does.
- Establish accountability. For a DEI strategy to work, leadership support is crucial, but leadership also has to model the behaviour, values, and norms that foster an equitable and inclusive workplace. Every person within an organisation, including leadership, must have accountability for the implementation and success of a DEI strategy. One effective way to do this is to set up a DEI governance body, a group of people that represent diverse perspectives who are responsible for providing oversight of the strategy and tracking progress. This body should be empowered to institute organisation-wide change, such as defining the DEI lexicon and establishing accountability measures.
- Empower diversity champions. Ensure managers and team leaders have the tools to make change happen. This could be education on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment, cultivating a curriculum for learning and education, or consulting external resources and experts. Whatever shape these tools take, ensure diversity champions are empowered to make a tangible difference.
- Identify metrics to evaluate outcomes and progress. Leaders are undoubtedly going to want metrics to track the outcomes of the DEI strategic plan. These metrics could include the degree of representation across different levels of the organisation and the level of pay equity among different groups at the company. An important step in evaluating progress and outcomes, particularly when it comes to quantifying inclusion, is listening to employees, for example through regular performance management, mentorships and employee pulse surveys.
- Embed DEI into your work culture. To be successful, DEI strategies should also be embedded into an organisation's culture. One of the most effective ways to do this is through social recognition, in which all employees are empowered to recognise each other’s contribution to the company and the individual perspectives everyone brings to the table. While high-quality recognition improves feelings of belonging for all employees, for black employees, when recognition needs are fulfilled, it results in five times the impact on belonging, according to Workhuman and Gallup’s research.
In addition, these social recognition programmes also enable leaders to see who is being recognised, how awards are distributed, and which values are being promoted. Leadership can then take action if, for example, recognition data shows men receive higher monetary awards than women. By identifying disparities in recognition across genders and demographics, these insights can help leaders respond to DEI challenges in the moment.
Progress, not perfection
DEI programmes aren’t a stagnant entity. They should be capable of evolving as society, organisations, and employee expectations change with time. According to Gallup, “DEI initiatives shouldn’t be about perfection. They should be about progress.” And any company that invests in DEI now is demonstrating that they are committing to doing right by their employees now and in the future.
As senior vice president, client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, Derek leads the company’s insight consulting division. In this role, he helps clients – including some of world’s most recognised companies –...
Please login or register to join the discussion.
Completely agree on the changing world of business, let's all make 2023 our most diverse, unique, successful year yet!