Core Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practices to Promote Organizational Equality.

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Ayanna Warrington
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This guide is part of a progression set comprised of Core, Advanced, and Emerging Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practices.

What it is

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) is an umbrella term for the practices, policies, and programs that promote social reform within an organization. Although it is an umbrella term, each component of DEI has its own definition:

  • Diversity refers to worker demographics like race, gender, sexual orientation, location, parenthood status, etc. Organizations should strive to have workforces that reflect the diversity of their customers and society.

  • Inclusion means ensuring diversity and differing perspectives are appreciated within the organization. Each worker should feel valued and have a sense of belonging.

  • Equity is the act of providing resources and opportunities that ensure persons of all backgrounds can thrive in the workplace. It eliminates barriers to success, especially for traditionally marginalized groups.

Robert Sellers, the University of Michigan’s Chief Diversity Officer, has a popular analogy:

Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party

Inclusion means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist

Equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance”

As practitioners define what DEI means for their organization, two other terms are becoming increasingly popular: Racial Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (REDI) and Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI). Regardless of the nomenclature, making progress on DEI efforts requires an intentional and strategic approach.

Why use it

DEI has been shown to improve business outcomes while increasing employee engagement and retention. Organizations that value DEI reap the benefits of better financial outcomes, more innovation, and stronger decision-making. Many of these positive consequences stem from employees who are more engaged and feel motivated to contribute to the organization’s success.

Job seekers are also placing higher importance on DEI when selecting a place to work. Competition for talent continues to be fierce in many industries and DEI is a differentiating factor for hiring companies.

Practice guides at this level

Assessing DEI to understand organizational strengths and improvement areas.

Understanding the current state relative to demographics, employee opinion, and sentiment and where current DEI work is being conducted.

Laying the foundation for a DEI strategy that aligns with business goals and key objectives.

Reviewing business and talent strategies for the current state of requirements and DEI opportunities, identifying external stakeholders, and creating a business case for a comprehensive DEI strategy.

Developing an effective governance structure that engages top leadership’s sponsorship and oversight.

Clarifying the structured approach to establishing an impactful governance model, identifying sponsors and drivers of the strategy, and drafting a formalized DEI strategy.

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