Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key concepts in today’s business and educational spheres. Far from being mere buzzwords, these concepts drive how businesses and educational institutions approach hiring, employee development, employee relations, and many other aspects of institutional life.
Saikiran Bomma, a recent college graduate from Connecticut, explains what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean and how companies can further their goals through concrete actions.
Diversity focuses on the differences within a workplace or educational institution. These differences could include religion, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, language, age, politics, sexual orientation,
Diversity focuses on populations that have been underrepresented and marginalized. Promoting diversity means elevating these voices to the level of those that traditionally have control of the process.
Equity promotes impartiality, fairness, and justice in the procedures followed by a business or institution. It is also concerned with the root causes of disparities in outcome.
When equity is concerned, Saikiran Bomma notes that people need to consider that equality and equity are not the same things. Equality means that everyone has the same opportunities, but they do not necessarily have the same means to reach them. Equity truly attempts to level the playing field, meaning that people who need it have a leg up toward the goal that they want to reach.
Inclusion means that people from diverse populations truly feel welcome within the system. This is sometimes the most difficult concept to grasp for businesses and institutions. It isn’t easy to affect people’s feelings, and everyone has different experiences of inclusion. For example, if the most visible group on campus is taking over most public events and is seen as the “face” of the staff or student body, people from other groups may feel that they are “less than.” It is important to diversify a company or institution’s welcoming and caring for its personnel.
How Companies and Educational Institutions Implement These Principles
Diversity, equity, and inclusion can be challenging to implement in the real world. Companies and institutions spend years thrashing out these plans behind the scenes only to have them roundly criticized when they are brought to the public. Today, employees are on the watch for hypocrisy or disingenuous behavior.
Steps Toward Creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan
Saikiran Bomma presents these common-sense suggestions for institutions and corporations that need to make diversity, equity, and inclusion plans. These suggestions are not an exhaustive list, but they will provide a basic roadmap toward including diverse populations.
Understanding how to create diversity, equity, and inclusion plans requires taking a long and hard look at the possible lack of diversity in your workplace. You will want to set goals and see how much you need to alter how you do business to meet these goals.
You should create your plan according to your company’s overall mission statement, keeping in mind that the benefits of diversity and inclusion outweigh the difficulty you may have in implementing the plans.
Employers need to know how many people they have hired from underrepresented groups versus mainstream groups to tailor a plan. Not having enough diverse employees may discourage others of the same background from applying to jobs at your company.
Demographics that you may want to focus on include:
- Gender expression
- Organizational level and function
- Language spoken
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Veteran status
- Learning styles
Employers can run a survey to collect this information. However, make sure to manage this information carefully to avoid the appearance of intrusion and mistrust. Being transparent to your employees about exactly how the information will be used will help create a sense of trust in the workplace.
Identify Concerns and Needs
To identify the changes that you need to make, you should analyze the data you received from your employees. You should be able to identify gaps in diversity among your employees. For example, you may find that you have very few ethnically diverse employees. A lack of diversity in this area could discourage others from applying to work at your company.
This process will help to promote a sense of belonging among employees, creating a more supportive and comfortable work environment.
Implement a Plan
Working with an internal human resources department or an outside consultant, you should develop a working plan to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in your company or institution. Deciding on the actions you wish to make the workplace better reflect the community as a whole may include recruiting from a more diverse pool of talent.
Understanding the Concepts of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Having a solid grasp of the concepts behind diversity, equity, and inclusion may help create a plan to broaden your company’s employee base. Saikiran Bomma believes that employee diversity is one of the greatest predictors of success in today’s competitive environment.