Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) represents both a business imperative and a significant challenge for many organizations. The benefits are clear, but DEI is about more than implementing a new policy. A culture shift that forces companies to reevaluate key areas of the business is often required to create an environment that’s truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
What Is DEI?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are separate but connected concepts.
Diversity refers to unique traits and characteristics of people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences related to their race, culture, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, etc. Equity involves justice and fairness in company policies and processes and in access to resources and opportunities. Inclusion is about how an organization values and integrates the perspectives of different groups of people.
Taken together, companies that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive have workplaces and teams that reflect the communities they serve and treat all individuals fairly, enabling all to contribute to the success of the organization.
Why is DEI Important?
Studies have shown that diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations are more innovative, more productive, and more profitable. Employees tend to be more satisfied and more highly engaged, while managers have access to more talent and a wider range of skillsets. As a result, organizations are better positioned to serve a larger portion of the community and capitalize on opportunities for growth.
From the customer’s perspective, people want to work with and buy from companies that share their values and understand who they are. As younger generations that value DEI continue to have a bigger influence as business leaders and consumers, organizations that respect and welcome the contributions of people from all walks of life are more likely to thrive.
Achieving a higher level of DEI is the right thing to do. It’s also good for business. If your organization is not as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as it could be, or you want to build upon existing initiatives, there are steps you can take to build a culture of DEI.
How Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Is Your Company?
First and foremost, DEI as a business priority, commitment, and practice must start at the top. This cannot be an afterthought or a hollow exercise intended to check a box. When senior leadership takes an active, vocal role in DEI, these initiatives are more likely to be respected and embraced across the organization.
Consider the following questions as you seek to build a DEI-driven culture:
- What are your DEI goals?
- How are you tracking the progress to these goals?
- Are your company policies and procedures reflective of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace?
- What type of training and education are you offering to ensure employees understand the moral purpose and business value of DEI?
- What are you doing to create an environment in which employees are comfortable and encouraged to voice their opinions, beliefs, and ideas?
If you can’t provide definitive answers to these questions, it’s a good idea to reassess your initiatives and consider refresher training on DEI in the workplace.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Forum Presented by the Princeton-Mercer Chamber
To help provide clarity on creating a DEI culture through open dialogue and engagement, the Princeton-Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting a DEI forum titled “Intent vs. Impact: Promoting Uncomfortable Conversations in the Workplace.” The forum will be led by Dr. Pamela Pruitt, Executive Director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Rider University.
This event will be held Wednesday, June 15, 2022 from 7:30 am – 10 am at Mercer Oaks Catering, 725 Village Road West in Princeton Junction. To learn more about this important DEI forum and register, visit the event page on the Princeton-Mercer Regional Chamber website.