A topic on many minds is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,) but what does it really mean? Many individuals are still confused as to why this conversation is continuing, considering the constant flow of press releases from organizations boasting their diverse numbers. America has a long way to go, and it is imperative to share the facts, and ask the hard questions.
It is easy to forget that diversity, equity and inclusion are three separate concepts; however, together these three words have created a movement that demands change. As a country, we are incredibly diverse, and as people we need to promote equity, or “… freedom from bias or favoritism.,” to build an inclusive culture, that does not ignore the differences of each person, but rather embraces the mixing of diverse groups to create successful collaboration.
Recruiters committed to DEI have heard it all: “We don’t need help with our diversity; majority of our employees are (one race/one gender.)” “I thought Diversity and Inclusion just meant that you have to be nice to women and minorities.” “I don’t think it’s fair that we would give someone special treatment just because they are a minority.” These can be infuriating statements when we don’t look at the larger problem. The sentiments stem from confusion, and incomprehension, due to a lack of information and proper education. These are prime examples of why this is an important conversation to be had.
Equality has been a long running topic, and after recent events the pressure for a fairer corporate America has become more aggressive.
Many organizations claim to be diverse, reporting inflated numbers of minority employees creating further confusion regarding the question: “Why are we still talking about this?" A company may claim to be diverse because they host a diverse employee base; nevertheless, it is unethical to consider a company “diverse” when executive level positions up to stakeholders are held by one or two specific demographics. If 12% of Americans are Black, why are only 3% of executive level roles held by Black Americans? If 18% of Americans are Hispanic or Latino, why are only 4% of executive level roles held by Hispanic or Latino Americas? The questioning is endless.
While we have only mentioned two groups of underrepresented persons, it is important to remember that diversity is endless. Age, race, sexual orientation, veteran status, etc. are all demographics we must keep in mind as we assess the diversity of our own organizations. A truly diverse culture has proven to have positive benefits such as increased productivity, creativity, profits, employee engagements, reduced turnover, and more.