“I don’t see colour.” This is a common mantra used by those who attempt to appear as if they are not prejudiced. Not seeing colour signifies that you are only focused on the person. The problem with this statement is that it sets a dangerous precedence for ignoring the fact that implicit bias exists. It also minimises the challenges that an individual of a different race/religion/creed experiences.
What’s the big hoopla about diversity in the workplace? 💭
“The value of a diverse team is its capacity to challenge the norm or group-think and thus boost organisational performance and improve decision-making”- Yrthya Dinzey Flores.
Diversity In the workplace is imperative for any company/sector with benefits that lead to:
- An increase in marketing efforts- Society today is diverse and appreciates investing in companies that reflect and celebrate the community they serve, contributing to better relations within the community by better understanding their needs and wants. This, in turn, also minimises the negative publicity that can arise for companies. NortonLifeLock recently had a case dismissed regarding their failure to commit to diversity from the board of directors down. So while the case was dismissed, there was still the stain of being accused of being deceptive based on their mission statement (you can read more about the case here). A company with a strong mission statement with a commitment to diversity and inclusion is a company that is ethically/morally conscious.
- Increased cultural awareness - An increase in cultural awareness decreases (can even eliminate) injustices that minorities experience by being cognisant of the disparity that non-white individuals experience and being part of the solution that strives to change the negative outcomes of unconscious biases. Take, for example, the major tech companies. Historically speaking, these companies brought low averages when it came to diverse individuals employed within the company. This meant these companies were slow to respond when faced with social injustices that occurred in 2020. To combat social injustices the society at large was facing, these companies had to take a hard look at the current staff and realised that the company as a whole was not diverse. They were not contributing to cultural awareness both internally and externally. To resolve this, these companies pledged to hire more diverse talent that will enable them to implement policies and procedures that are responsive and fair to all employees while ensuring they contribute to the community in an impactful way that aids in decreasing poverty and crime.
- Increased creativity and innovation- Let’s face it, if we all look and act the same, where are creative or innovative ideas brought up? Diversity in the workplace fosters an environment conducive to creativity. Where creativity and innovation exist, you can be sure your company remains on the cutting edge of its sector. Take this quote, for example: “When people feel important, everyone on the team understands the value of every person,” Ken Gosnell, CEO of Experience, in Forbes. Once everyone realises the value of every individual on their team, it becomes easier for ideas to flow between each other in a safe environment. The Boston Consulting Group completed a study that shows when your workforce is diverse; it opens the floor for sincere and honest conversations about culture and how culture affects consumer habits. For example, a non-white, non-English speaking individual will have different customs that will contribute to a varied manner of communication and spending habits. When you have a diverse team within your company, you become aware of the vast array of cultures and spending habits of the society you market to, creating goods/services that become a global demand rather than a small niche.
To take advantage of these benefits, a DEI board should exist. Having a DEI board within your company can ensure that there are fair practices when it comes to hiring, engaging employees, and celebrating culture.
Forming a DEI board
This should not be an arduous process. Start with recruiting internal employees who are interested in DEI. A 4-5 person group (or one individual from each department of your company) that will be responsible for engaging your employees.
Develop a mission statement 📃
It should serve as a mission statement of sorts (this should align with the mission statement and values of the company). Here’s a great example below:
The DEI board exists to provide an advisory role, implement initiatives, and ensure accountability on diversity and inclusion for all within the company.
Develop an action plan and deliver 🎯
- Action item #1 - Recruit, retain, and grow people that contribute to creating a diverse community
- Action item #2 - Implement diversity, equity, and inclusion into core learning and development materials
- Action item #3 - Enhance DEI accountability, effectiveness, and collaboration through company engagement
Following these steps will ensure that you create a genuinely inclusive and creative environment.
Don't forget to subscribe to the Virti newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest learning tips and Virti updates.
Hungry for more? Check out this video on inclusivity in the workplace!