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Now’s the Time Organizations Should Be Doubling Down on Inclusion and Belonging

Kanarys Staff


Over the past year, rising inflation and economic uncertainty have hit businesses hard, causing many to lay off workers or implement cost-cutting measures. Unfortunately, in some cases, this has also led to scaling back or even abandoning DEIB programs, with some companies seeing them as a luxury they can no longer afford. Even worse is the disconnect and division between corporate leaders who believe companies are making progress on inclusion, and employees who are less optimistic. Whether or not you have inclusion and belonging initiatives, how you approach them or not can be short-sighted and ultimately detrimental to a company's long-term success due to the lack of meaningful impact.

A contributing factor has to do with a lack of education and awareness of what DEIB is. Too many are focusing on the ‘diversity’ part, which is rather narrow and limiting, and not enough on equity, inclusion and at its core, belonging. The workplace is a cauldron of issues affecting the workforce. When we talk about equity, inclusion and belonging, we’re not only focused on race and ethnicity, but also gender, religion and sexual orientation and the issues that impact the entire workforce. That includes child and elder care, pay equity, working conditions and mental health. 

There are a plethora of reasons companies should prioritize inclusion and belonging initiatives, even during tough economic times, but most importantly, they also need to focus on programs that actually make an impact.

  • Research shows that diverse teams are more innovative and creative than homogenous ones. When a company has a team made up of people from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, they're more likely to generate new and unique ideas. This can give companies a competitive edge in their industries, leading to better products, services, and customer experiences.
  • When employees feel valued and included, they're more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. This can lead to higher productivity, better customer service, and increased employee retention. Conversely, a lack of DEIB can lead to feelings of exclusion and disengagement, which can contribute to high turnover rates and decreased productivity.
  • In today's social media-driven world, companies are under more scrutiny than ever before. By prioritizing DEIB, companies can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and attract customers who value diversity and inclusion. This can lead to increased brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth advertising.
  • DEIB can help companies adapt to changing demographics and serve as a bridge to the multigenerational workplace. With fewer younger workers entering the labor market for at least a generation, employers that don’t think beyond today’s working-age population will likely struggle to build a reliable workforce that can maintain operational efficiency and effectiveness. Companies that prioritize DEIB will be better positioned to understand and serve the needs of diverse customers and communities. This can lead to new business opportunities and increased revenue streams.

The Opportunity: Moving the Needle

For any inclusion and belonging strategy to be effective, metrics and impact are required. From evidence-based assessments to data-driven recommendations, initiatives must begin by highlighting organizational gaps, identify steps to grow an organization’s competencies and reinforce strengths, and build the specific programs and behaviors needed to support the overall goals and mission, while providing the quantitative and qualitative inputs and feedback needed to improve and ensure the impact of these programs and activities. 

Ultimately, while it may be tempting to cut costs by abandoning inclusion and belonging programs, it's important to recognize the long-term benefits that these initiatives can provide. By prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion, companies can improve innovation, employee engagement and retention, reputation, adaptability, and risk management.

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