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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Johnson

Why is DEI Important in the Workplace (Company Culture)

How to incorporate DEI into company culture; not just your monthly wellbeing program.



Large group of diverse colleagues sit at a conference table.

Is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a part of your company culture? Do you support and provide equal opportunities and equitable benefits to employees, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, disability, or whether they’re a parent or caregiver?


Incorporating DEI into your workplace culture can seem confusing at first. And despite being the right thing to do, building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture does offer many organizational benefits, including increased productivity, employee retention, and a better place to work for employees.


This blog post will explain why DEI is important at work and how to build it into your company culture. We’ll provide real examples of actions you can take to start your DEI journey.


Key takeaways:


  • DEI is not just another box to tick-work on embedding it into your company culture

  • Diverse companies are out performing industry peers on profitability 

  • ERGs help groups advocate for change and equal opportunities at work


Want to get started straight away? Invest in DEI training to foster a more diverse and inclusive organization. You’ll also boost innovation and productivity at work.



What is diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace?


Diversity, equity, and inclusion at work is often misunderstood. In recent years, it’s also moved from a voluntary standard to a must-have for organizations. And rightfully so!


But what is DEI? It’s all about perspective.


No two people are the same. We all have different upbringings, experiences, cultures, and ideas. There are different ethnicities, sexualities, and disabilities. The list goes on!


DEI is about celebrating and encouraging perspective. Due to our unique perspectives, we all bring different ideas to the table, and those ideas should be supported. To do so, your business needs to embed DEI into your company culture.


Picture this: you have a board of directors of the same ethnicity, roughly the same age, and partake in the same recreational activities. Their perspective is likely to be similar.


But if the board of directors is diverse, let’s say, a mix of young and old, different ethnicities, mothers and fathers, single parents, different sexualities, and so on, then instantly, ideas will be challenged. New ideas will be explored, and the perspective will shift.


It’s this shift in perspective that allows companies to innovate, seek new solutions, and empower employees. Also, embedding DEI into the workplace is quite simply the right thing to do. Everyone deserves equal opportunities, regardless of their personal characteristics.



Why is DEI in the workplace important?


The 2020 Diversity Wins: How inclusion matters report from McKinsey states that, “The business case for gender and ethnic diversity in top teams is stronger than ever.” In fact, the report goes on to say how diverse companies are outperforming industry peers on profitability


Furthermore, inclusion is also an essential factor for employees. Evidence from the McKinsey report suggests that representation is not enough. Employees need to feel and experience equality and fairness of opportunity in the workplace, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, culture, disability, whether or not they are a parent, and so on.


A workplace that embeds diversity, equity, and inclusion into its company culture can help improve job satisfaction, higher levels of trust at work, and even more engaged employees. 


You will also widen your talent pool, attracting new hires from a mix of backgrounds. Again, encouraging new perspectives and being a catalyst for change and equal opportunity.






How to Embed DEI into your Company Culture


Previously, you might have run company events that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Maybe you hosted an event in Pride Month in June and celebrated the LGBTQI community. That’s an excellent first step!


But to embed DEI into your company culture, it’s not a one-and-done task. And certainly, not something that should be done once a year. Instead, you should embed DEI into your company culture to create real change, access to equal opportunities, and a better place to work.


One of the best ways to start incorporating DEI into your company culture is by setting up employee resource groups, known as ERGs.


Set up employee resource groups

ERGs are voluntarily-led groups at work that aim to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Typically, ERGs are created by a group of people who share similar characteristics, whether that’s gender, ethnicity, religion, lifestyle, being a working parent, and more.


It’s a safe space to support and help personal and career development and to improve work conditions for alienated workers and marginalized groups. ERGS can help increase equal opportunities and even empower employees.


How to set up an ERG at work

ERGs are led by employees who decide on a specific focus or group that the ERG will represent. For example, that could be race, gender, disability, or the LGBTQ + community. You will also need support and approval from leadership.


For an ERG to be successful, a Great Place to Work notes how senior leaders need to support, fund, and endorse ERGs. Furthermore, you will need the support from employees and allies and will need to recruit members to support the groups objectives and missions.



Examples of DEI in the workplace


To demonstrate DEI in the workplace, we’re going to use the example of a small-mid-sized marketing firm. For the sake of argument, let’s say they’re based in Chicago. 


Here’s how the company could begin to engrain DEI into its culture.


Diversity 


  • Hire new talent from diverse and often historically underrepresented groups—expand the team’s culture and strive to build a diverse workforce.


  • Introduce blind hiring practices—remove identifies such as names, what year the person went to college, and hobbies from resumes and applications. This helps reduce unconscious bias during the initial screening process.



  • Host a mix of cultural team-building activities to educate employees on different cultures and ethnicities. 


Equity


  • Conduct equity pay audits—ensure you pay people who perform similar roles equitably, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, or identity. 


  • Provide flexible work arrangements—support employees with different needs and responsibilities outside of work (new mothers, employees with pets, children, learning disabilities, etc.)


  • Offer growth and mentorship opportunities to underrepresented groups to help support career advancement in the company. 


Inclusion


  • Set up employee resource groups for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for inclusivity at work.


  • Promote psychological safety and encourage employees to bring their authentic selves to work.


  • Host regular workshops to promote and better understand the best inclusion practices and promote healthy employee dialogue.



DEI is Not Just Ethnicity-Based 

Often, DEI is almost exclusively associated with ethnicity. And while this is certainly an aspect of DEI, there’s a little more to it. Lindsay Johnson, founder of FitPros, debunks this and brings a new perspective to the table by encouraging employers to ask the following questions:


  • Are the challenges inclusive for handicapped individuals?

  • Do you offer equitable benefits for pet parents and caregivers?

  • What is your maternity and parental leave like?


For diversity, equity, and inclusion to be a part of your company culture, you have to address all groups.


Let’s say you host regular challenges as part of your wellness program. Great! But to be inclusive, you could make tweaks such as changing “step challenges” to “movement challenges.” This is just one example of the changes you must make to become more inclusive.


Coach and a player in wheelchairs fist bumping in celebration.

Obviously, more adjustments to challenges, programs, and systems would need to be made. But this should provide an example of the changes you need to make!



Invest in DEI education 

DEI has taken a big leap in recent years, but many employers don’t know where to begin.


Investing in DEI training for upper management and employees is the first step to embedding DEI into your company culture. More seats will open at the table, and employees will feel like they belong at work and ready to take on the world on your behalf.




FAQs


How does diversity help the workplace?

A more diverse workplace fosters innovation, problem-solving, and creativity. It adds a new perspective that can help increase productivity and understanding of diverse customer bases. 


Why is DEI important to an organization?

DEI is important to an organization because it creates a space where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered regardless of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics. When DEI is embedded into company culture, it can improve employee retention and decision-making and help attract new talent.


Why is DEI training important in the workplace?

DEI training is important in the workplace because it is the first step to creating a safe, diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture. Educating employees and upper management helps you signpost current issues and take steps to create a more DEI-friendly place to work.


When did DEI become important in the workplace?

DEI has always been important at work. But in more recent years, there’s been a further push for organizations to recognize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and its role in fostering innovation, driving success, and attracting top talent. 


Creating a workplace culture where everybody feels welcome and has access to equal opportunities is also the right thing to do!



Join FitPros to Host Your Challenges

FitPros hosts new challenges every month for your employees, from step and movement challenges to mental health and sleep. You can track challenge progress on the app and compare results on the leaderboards. We also distribute prizes for you.





Looking for more? Contact a Wellbeing Manager to discuss your organizational wellbeing needs.


 


FitPros logo in white inside a square on a field of color.

We provide workplace teams with mindful practices, personal and professional wellbeing growth, fitness instruction, and opportunities for social connection. We aim to inspire the highest potential in people at work, in life, every day, so they can show up healthy and at their best.



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