Why is a Focus on DEI Important?

Worker at a truck

By DeAnna Leahy

A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential for companies looking to build workplaces that represent the world we live in. Within companies today, you would be hard-pressed to find an organization that is not talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Companies are putting DEI as a business priority, goal, value, and something to set them apart. They are striving to make DEI part of their organizational culture.

These three words are much more than just buzzwords. They are corporate values to aspire to and a critical cultural foundation for our organization. At Clyde Companies, we focus on DEI because it is the right thing to do. A commitment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts can lead to an increased sense of belonging within the organization, which can feel great. It is also a driver for employee engagement, productivity, corporation reputation, attracting top talent, and achieving superior business results.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion affect all our company’s areas and are essential to the success of our business. Statistics show that a company that embraces diversity and inclusion in all aspects of its business outperforms its peers. The highest performing organizations are those companies that focus on building a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Other studies have shown that gender diversity in companies with female board members outperforms all-male board companies. Interestingly, the survey also showed that 61% of women look at the diversity of the employer’s leadership when deciding where to work.

Diversity is the presence of difference. Within an organization’s human resources, this can refer to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, socio-economic situation, experience, skills, certifications, and geographical location. Diversity can be differences across demographics, cultural origins, skills, abilities, attitudes, ideas, philosophies, beliefs, experiences, and perspectives.

Equity involves looking at programs, initiatives, and individual cases where opportunities within the organization may not be consistent and fair. The inconsistencies could include inequities or gaps in pay, promotions, development, opportunities to lead, etc. We need to look at all our processes from hiring, firing, promoting, assigning tasks, team creation, and recognition, and evaluating these procedures for bias in inequity.

While diversity is all about differences, inclusion is about embracing those differences. Inclusion is the practice of creating a workplace where all differences are welcomed, appreciated, and accepted. It is about creating an environment where people feel valued. If you have an inclusive organization, all people are respected and appreciated for their unique contributions. Inclusion is all about the experience, perceptions, and feelings necessary to create the right work environment.

Why is it important to feel like we belong? As human beings, we are hard-wired for social connection and belonging. It makes us feel safe and connected. Studies show that these feelings of connection can help make us feel happier and healthier, and it has also been linked to increased employee performance. Employees who feel like they belong are more likely to participate and be engaged in their work. They are more likely to give their time and energy to improving the workplace and helping those around them. In some cases, a feeling of belonging can be a stronger motivator than money.

Fostering a culture where people feel they belong can have a huge payoff. This type of company culture will attract top candidates. For the employees, it can positively influence both mental and physical health, which can also benefit the company by reducing absenteeism and increasing engagement and productivity. The bottom line is that efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion are good for business and can genuinely make a difference for the employees and our communities.