DEI - The Importance Of Representation And Participation In The Workplace

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a term that describes the policies and programs businesses implement to ensure participation and equal representation of diverse groups of people. Although, on the surface, DEI may seem like a “feel-good” initiative, research shows that promoting equity and expanding diverse viewpoints to all levels of an organization improves profits, team morale, innovation, and more. As an employer, implementing DEI policies and programs must be a focus for your business. However, you must first understand exactly what DEI is.


Diversity involves all of the differences that make people unique. This may include race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethinicty, age, mental and physical ability, language, socioeconomic status, or political perspective. While the inclusion of all types of people remains critical, the focus of Diversity in DEI policies and programs lies on groups that have been underrepresented.   


The DEI element of Equity aims to promote the fair treatment, impartiality, and equal opportunity of all members of a business. It acknowledges disparities in opportunities among individuals, and it aims to correct them through support systems. In order to achieve Equity, you must understand and address the root causes of outcome disparities in your organization. 


Inclusion takes Equity a step further. Beyond addressing disparities in opportunities for individuals in a business, it aims to ensure all individuals are encouraged and empowered to offer insight and fully contribute within an organization. Inclusion is achieved when underrepresented groups and individuals are not only given equal opportunity, but actually feel welcomed and invited to participate. 

Now that you understand each individual element of DEI, let’s take a look at some strategies your business can implement to ensure participation and equal representation.

Redefine your hiring strategy 

Hiring a diverse workforce is the first step in ensuring equal representation in your business, and it is also the most important. Before a business can establish any rules or processes to achieve this aforementioned equality, the business itself must first consist of a diverse group of individuals. If you find your business is having trouble reaching candidates of underrepresented groups, it may be time to change your recruiting and hiring strategy. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

1. Audit your past recruitment ads/strategies 
By analyzing recruitment methods from the past, you may uncover certain trends that led to a lack of candidates from certain underrepresented groups. For example, a recruiting advertisement that references a song from a popular new artist may not appeal to older candidates. Make changes when necessary, and don’t be afraid to design multiple different ads to appeal to specific groups.

2. Blind resumes and blind interviews

Conducting blind resumes and blind interviews will ensure any kind of bias is eliminated from the recruitment process—even if the bias is subconscious. By “blacking out” all personal information, interviewers will only be able to judge candidates based on their experience and skill sets provided in their resume and their responses to interview questions. 

3. AI-powered candidate screening
There are new ways of eliminating bias during the recruitment process such as the use AI technology. By programming a platform that filters candidates based on their skill and experience, candidates will be evaluated in a completely impartial manner. 

4. Offer internships and co-ops to underrepresented groups
A great way for your business to increase the representation of underrepresented groups is to offer internships or co-ops to draw interest from up-and-coming candidates before the job search begins. Not only will this lead them to pursue your organization as an employer, but it will provide useful experience and prepare them for a role within your organization. 

Implement education initiatives within your organization 

In order to ensure all members of your organization understand and comply with the DEI initiatives of your company, anti-bias training and other education initiatives should be implemented. In 2018, Starbucks closed its doors to conduct anti-racism and anti-bias education after two African American men were arrested without cause at a Starbucks location. This situation could have been prevented had Starbucks been proactive in their education initiative. Don’t make the same mistake—start now, and start at the leadership level. The top members of an organization set the standard, and it is important that your company has a diverse, proactive leadership team that can hold their subordinates accountable.

After establishing a diverse, proactive leadership team, educate your employees in the areas of diversity, equality, and inclusion, and encourage dialogue throughout the year—these lessons may not remain effective without constant communication. Diversity training should not be a mere formality, but a focus of your organization and a topic that your employee’s should feel comfortable addressing whenever necessary. 

Set SMART diversity goals using people analytics

In order to measure the effectiveness of the aforementioned strategies to ensure participation and equal representation, it is important to set goals—specifically, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). By using people analytics, the method of studying employees’ processes, challenges, and opportunities, you can measure the success of your company in achieving these goals. Certain statistics (regarding underrepresented groups) that can be measured using this process include:

  • Labor turnover 
  • Employee tenure
  • Diversity of gender, age, religion, etc. 

Identify where your company needs improvement, and set goals to not only address the problem, but effectively measure progression. Again, DEI should not merely be an idea or formality, but a focal point of your organization that receives the same attention as other HR initiatives. 

Author: Anna Křivská

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