Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Making sure all employees in your company feel supported and included.

All services / Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

In today’s workplace, diversity, equity and inclusion have a significant impact, influencing workplace culture, the employee experience, recruitment and retention. They’re three complementary concepts, and it’s difficult to discuss the importance of one individually without acknowledging the impact of the others.

Creating an environment that champions diversity, equity and inclusion can positively impact all aspects of an employee’s experience and create an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding and equity. That’s why many companies prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives with dedicated committees, funding and chief officers.

What is diversity equity and inclusion?

Diversity covers the traits or characteristics that are used to differentiate individuals. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that diversity can be categorized by certain demographics, and through capturing and analyzing data on these demographics, companies can better recognize inequities. Demographics include:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Ethnicity/national origin
  • Family status
  • Gender or gender identity
  • Generation
  • Language
  • Life experiences
  • Personality type
  • Physical characteristics
  • Religion, belief or spirituality
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran status

Equity includes a commitment to fair treatment, access and opportunity for all employees. An equitable workplace understands that some employees may or may not have had opportunities that aid their advancement, and works to identify and eliminate barriers that affect under-represented populations.

Equitable workplaces promote fairness within their procedures, processes and resources. By understanding the inherent disparities within workplaces, institutions and systems, companies can work to address those disparities and create solutions to create an equitable workplace for all.

Inclusion can be defined as how well the experiences, perspectives and contributions of individuals within those demographic categories and groups are valued and integrated into the workplace, and if (and how) they influence company culture.

A diverse workplace may not necessarily be inclusive. For example, a company may have employees from a diverse range of backgrounds including different races, gender identities and religions. But if the voices of all employees within those groups aren’t given equal weight, or if the voices and perspectives of some groups have more weight than others, the workplace wouldn’t be considered inclusive.

A workplace that is both diverse and inclusive gives equal weight to all perspectives and experiences from employees throughout the entire organization, from interns to company leadership.

Why are diversity, equity and inclusion important?

Creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace has some serious benefits — from supporting a positive employee experience to growing your company’s performance.

Financial benefits

Many research studies establish correlations between company diversity and improved financial performance. A 2019 McKinsey study found companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the 4th quartile — up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. In fact, the study found that companies with more than 30% women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10% to 30%.

And though companies with female executives outperform others, there are still inequities that limit women’s ability to reach executive levels and their opportunities for continued growth. A McKinsey & Company study found for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted. Looking at racial diversity, that gap becomes even larger — only 58 Black and 71 Latina women were promoted. These gender and racial inequities create barriers for women who wish to grow their careers, as not receiving promotions at the same rate as their male counterparts can potentially increase the time and energy it takes to reach executive roles.

And though financial benefits and the bottom line shouldn’t be the only reason a company focuses on integrated diversity, equity and inclusion into their workplace culture, it may be one compelling reason why.

Company growth and culture benefits

Catalyst research found companies that establish inclusive business culture and policies reported a 59.1% increase in creativity, innovation and openness.

And when it comes to innovation, diverse teams can offer companies more opportunities for growth. A 2017 BCG study found that the opportunities for innovation become much higher when women occupy a significant share of management positions — “innovation revenues start to kick in when more than 20% of managers at a company are female.” So, a company may have a gender diverse workforce, but if their management team isn’t inclusive of gender, they may still miss out on significant opportunities for growth and innovation.

Creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is also an important aspect of building and maintaining company culture. A SHRM study found that employee morale and employee retention were most affected by having a workplace that provided religious accommodation for its employees. By accommodating religious diversity, companies can build a workplace that improves the employee experience and creates an inclusive culture.

Recruitment and retention benefits

Hiring qualified, high-performing employees and retaining those employees should be a priority for all companies. One way to recruit and retain employees is with benefits, such as health care, perks, time off and more. But research suggests that a diverse and inclusive workplace is equally important to some job seekers — in fact, Catalyst found that companies with higher levels of gender diversity and with HR policies and practices that focus on gender diversity are linked to lower levels of employee turnover.

Once hired, employees still seek out diversity and inclusion and may even be prepared to leave if they don’t find it. Another Catalyst study of more than 700 Canadian women and men of color found more than 50% of “on guard” participants had a high intention to quit their jobs. “On guard” is described as a key element of what the study calls Emotional Tax, or the heightened experience of being different from peers at work because of your gender, race and/or ethnicity and the associated detrimental effects on health, well-being, and the ability to thrive at work.

Research from USDN also suggests employees of color in predomoninantly white organizations can feel social isolation and bias within their workplace. This is why it’s important to begin a retention strategy during onboarding by making an effort to discuss organizational culture and to share any racial equity efforts you’re making. And once onboarded, it’s important to focus on rentention strategies that build trust, identify opportunities for improvement and support professional development.

It’s important to not only hire diverse candidates to improve the inclusiveness of your organization, but also to provide equitable opportunities for employees to develop. It can be a cycle — companies that promote diversity, equity and inclusion and provide necessary support are more likely to recruit and retain diverse employees.

How to communicate diversity, equity and inclusion

Part of the success of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives lies in their communication. Let’s review some strategies for communicating diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Embrace transparency

When it comes to internal communication about any subject, employees appreciate honesty and transparency — it helps build trust.

If you fail to be transparent in your employee communication about diversity, equity and inclusion, it may come across to employees as unauthentic or insincere. By sharing your diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, plans and strategies with employees as transparently as possible, you give employees (and stakeholders) opportunities to hold you accountable.

Being transparent also allows for opportunities for employees to offer their support and ideas. Maybe you’re looking for help brainstorming new initiatives or would like feedback on your current diversity, equity and inclusion strategy — getting honest opinions from your employees can prove invaluable. If you keep communication lines open and encourage a two-way conversation, it can help employees feel that their voices are heard and their opinions matter.

Embracing transparency in your internal communications can improve your organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion planning, cultivate a culture of honesty and accountability and ultimately help your company grow.

Create a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy

You may want to consider adding your diversity, equity and inclusion communication strategy to your company’s overall diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. Here’s an overview of how to create your strategy:

  1. Analyze your current state: Review quantitative data on diversity at your company and collect qualitative data through surveys, focus groups and interviews.
  2. Research and review: See what helped make other companies like yours successful and learn from their mistakes.
  3. Make your plan: Break your plan into short-term and long-term goals to create actionable steps to help you meet those milestones.
  4. Make (and state) your commitment: Share your strategy with stakeholders so you can create a well-rounded and inclusive plan.
  5. Create Employee Resource Groups: Create dedicated space for employees to connect with colleagues to kickstart your strategy.

For a deeper dive and some other helpful tips, check out our PartnerComm blog on the Building Blocks of a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Promote your current and ongoing resources

From the moment employees first interact with your company, they should know what initiatives or resources you provide to support diversity, equity and inclusion, and how your company prioritizes supporting a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

Communication and promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion resources is as important as communicating your health care benefits, retirement plan or wellness resources. You might consider building communication plans and promoting:

  • Your company values or pillars: Many companies create company pillars or values that they build their business and culture around. Some examples include Safety, Ethics and Service. Often, diversity and inclusion are part of these pillars.
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): ERGs are employee-led, voluntary groups that help foster a diverse and inclusive workplace through the connection of employees over shared characteristics or life experiences. These groups build community and increase employee engagement.
  • Diversity and inclusion training: These training programs offer opportunities for employees to address biases, learn from colleagues and improve equality in your workplace.

Plus, research shows creating ongoing communication about your commitment to diversity and inclusion helps increase engagement. For example, a Deloitte study found that “83% of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60% of millennials who are actively engaged when their organization does not foster an inclusive culture.”

Giving diversity, equity and inclusion the same priority as your other employee benefits and resources will reinforce your commitment and promote a positive employee experience.

A diversity, equity and inclusion communication example

PartnerComm was engaged by a Fortune 500 American technology company to design and create supplemental materials for their annual Employee Resource Group Accelerator Summit. This summit aims to incorporate Employee Resource Group activities into professional development activities for the greater company good. PartnerComm created a new, fresh look and feel for the summit using the company’s brand standards as a foundation. The colorful, clean design incorporated interlocking geometric shapes to build a sense of inclusiveness and togetherness, which helped illustrate the company’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion.

We also worked with the client to produce deliverables that would support the summit’s goals and provide a supportive experience for employees, including several designed presentation decks, t-shirt design, a custom Zoom background and two videos. Additionally, we designed custom journals with thoughtful prompts to help employees record their thoughts and feelings throughout the summit and give them an opportunity to reflect on what diversity, equity and inclusion at the company means to them. Overall, the client was extremely happy, sharing that PartnerComm helped make the event “amazing” and “successful.”

Reach out to an expert today.