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DEI - Defining Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Why Each Matters

Veleisa Burrell

10/28/2019

‘Mind your Ps and Qs. Dot your Is and cross your Ts’. How many phrases do we often hear and use, especially those with single letters or acronyms to represent an idea or word in business, so often that they become commonplace knowledge? We feel like we all know what the acronyms mean, that it’s an understood language! Two of the acronyms that matter to Kanarys are D&I and DEI.

What Is DEI?

To expand the acronyms, D&I stands for Diversity and Inclusion, and DEI is an abbreviation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Diversity has been talked about in corporate, organizational, and research worlds for many decades, but inclusion and equity are newer concepts whose meaning and impact on teams may not be obvious to leaders. So let’s talk through all three, identifying the differences and highlighting their importance and impact of each on a company’s culture.

What Is The Importance of Diversity, Equity And Inclusion?

Below we separate the three concepts of diversity, equality, and inclusion and explain each one in greater detail, answering this important question at the same time:

Diversity - More Than Just Numbers

Most companies, especially those just beginning to focus on DEI, center their equality, diversity, and inclusion policies and efforts on the numbers: how many women are being hired, the percentages of Black, Latino and Asian employees, surveying to learn about religion, age and LGBTQIA+ representation. This is a basic start but it is only an entry point to a larger culture shift. ADP’s chief diversity and social responsibility officer Rita Mitjans described diversity as the what or the “makeup of your workforce.”

Inclusion - Giving People a Reason to Stay

Diversity without inclusion, or the principles, policies, and environment that enables employees to thrive within a company, is often what hamstrings companies in their efforts to move beyond statistics to see change. Inclusion in the workplace requires a cultural shift, beginning with C-suite executives setting priorities and a clear direction for management and other workers to follow.

Within companies lacking diversity there is even an “inclusion gap” that impacts their business decision making. This gap can exist even within companies where gender diversity is even, as Cloverpop found in their data. Considering that the most diverse companies, with high inclusion, tend to perform better and make better decisions, a workforce that lacks inclusion is setting itself up for long-term failure and insufficient growth as compared to a competitor.

Equity - Instilling Fairness as a Practice

Equality and equity are often used interchangeably. However, the major difference between the two, as beautifully outlined by Premier Talent Partners, is that equality involves the “state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities, whereas equity involves impartiality and fairness. If you’re drawing a line between the two, it can be said that equality is the end goal and equity is the means by which you reach equality.

Equity, in a business setting, aligns with giving current and potential employees the same access and opportunity and can look like diverse interview panels, accessible workplaces, and spousal benefits for same-sex marriages.

Equality, Diversity, And Inclusion Impact Factor

After focusing each letter, both for what it means and how it affects business, it becomes more clear that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as both a concept and a practice is crucial to a company’s success and employee satisfaction.

You will also see that the benefits of multiculturalism in the workplace extends as far as the company’s bottom line. Equality, diversity, and inclusion training is, thus, imperative if organizations are going to meet their goals, both profit and otherwise.


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