Updated: Jul 19, 2022
There’s undoubtedly a growing understanding and recognition of the importance of diversity as a whole in the workplace, but with only 55% of UK and Irish HR and business professionals in this survey feeling like their company is making progress, DEI implementation is falling short.
According to the National Disability Authority, over 36% of working age people with a disability are employed in Ireland compared to 73% without a disability. Similarly, a 2018 ESRI study found that people from a black non-Irish background are less than half as likely to be employed than white Irish, and five times as likely to experience discrimination when seeking work.
Lack of awareness, and understanding of how to implement a DEI strategy, is still a major barrier to progress. However, once these strategies are properly implemented, the benefits can be plentiful to both an organisation’s culture and business performance.
What is diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace?
Only by defining what diversity, equity and inclusion mean, can organisations identify areas for improvement and measure progress.
Diversity describes the demographic of the organisation where there is a representation of people from protected groups. This might include differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, eduction and background.
Equity is about eliminating systemic barriers and privileges for all people. It’s about giving everyone what they need in terms of access, opportunity and resources to succeed.
Inclusion describes an inclusive work environment where participation and contribution of all employees is backed by company structures designed to remove all barriers, discrimination and intolerance.
Why you need a DEI strategy
Business leaders have more than just a moral obligation to ensure DEI is at the top of their agenda.
It’s well documented that an organisation who puts DEI strategies at the heart of their business performs better overall. These companies benefit from higher productivity, better employee retention and an overall boost in morale.
In this report from Deloitte, it was found that organisations with an inclusive culture are:
2 times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
3 times as likely to be high performing
8 times more likely to achieve better business outcomes
3 reasons why DEI initiatives are so important
An organisation’s DEI strategy can reap rewards beyond just financial performance. DEI is more about a comprehensive “operationalised” strategy that shows a company is committed to its missions, strategies and business practices. This creates competitive business advantage in the following ways:
It helps attract top talent: People want to work for employers with good employment practices and a clear stance on eradicating prejudice
It helps an organisation grow and innovate: Diverse teams bring alternative viewpoints that encourage them to tackle problems from different perspectives, which can lead to the innovation of products and services
It is part of a new wave of corporate reputation: Businesses need to consider corporate responsibility in the context of DEI strategy, as social exclusion and low economic activity rates can limit business markets and their growth.
How to make DEI a priority
While there is growing recognition of how critical DEI initiatives are to business strategy, the challenge lies in translating these into impactful outcomes. This article offers the following actionable steps:
Make the business case: This will include qualitative rationale, supporting research and analysis. Before rollout the strategy will require a clear understanding of timeline and budget, technical considerations and for all stakeholders to be involved and on board.
Build DEI into your hiring and recruitment processes: This is an essential step to build diversity from the ground up and could include an analysis of the current hiring pool, placement of job ads, and the recruitment process. Consider automation software to screen candidates with reduced bias.
Are you ready to make DEI a priority in your organisation?
If you would like to discuss your company’s strategy and create an actionable DEI plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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