How to Level Up your Small Business Goals with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Whether you run a mom-and-pop shop or an up-and-coming firm, three words can make a significant impact in your business: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

This culture-changing acronym collectively referred to as DEI puts a premium on the different skills, experiences, and mindsets that can create a more successful and productive workforce.

DEI Explained

In practice, DEI includes any program or policy that cultivates and sustains a workplace that’s open to all types. This includes people of different races, ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, religious or cultural beliefs. The goal behind DEI is to ensure all voices are heard at every level of business.

The gap between businesses that do and don’t implement DEI practices is clear. According to Shift HR Compliance Training, organizations that incorporate DEI into their business model have access to larger talent pools, demonstrate higher employee productivity, and experience less turnover.

An Edge When Hiring

Emphasizing DEI in your business model can give you an edge when hiring in a competitive marketplace.

Shift HR Compliance Training also reports that 70% of job seekers look for signs of workplace diversity when evaluating an offer of employment. A 2020 workplace survey by Glassdoor found that roughly one in three wouldn’t consider applying to a company that lacks diversity.

If your business doesn’t have the resources to recruit like larger companies, DEI efforts can level the playing field to attract diverse and skilled candidates. Minorities, including women, people of color, and individuals with different sexual orientations, make up a more significant portion of the workforce than ever before, and DEI policies may be the key to tapping this potential.

In addition, younger generations are increasingly driving the labor force—and they put a high value on DEI. Millennial and Gen Z workers reported staying longer with companies that valued and encouraged diversity, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Millennial Survey.

Good for Business

Investing in a culture of DEI isn’t just a good thing to do; it’s good for business. Diverse workforces bring many ideas and solutions to the table, which means more potential avenues for success.

According to the Shift HR Compliance Training report, gender diverse companies are 21% more likely to outperform industry peers, and ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.

When a business incorporates DEI, customers of all backgrounds are more likely to engage and interact with your workforce. With various personalities and experience to call upon, finding the right fit between employee and customer becomes easier.

Implementing DEI

Creating an atmosphere of DEI starts by looking inward and making an honest evaluation of where your company needs to change.

Part of this assessment should include addressing unconscious or implicit bias, automatic patterns of thinking about different groups of people that can lead to negative stereotyping. A quick search online using the term ‘implicit bias training’ reveals several resources that can help.

With a clearer understanding of how biases manifest in the workplace, your company can begin its journey toward preventing them from interfering with day-to-day interactions and operations, laying the groundwork for a successful DEI implementation.

Make your employees feel comfortable discussing DEI in your workplace by ‘keeping your door open,’ listening to their thoughts, and providing resources they can access to learn more. If you feel it will make the process easier, consider holding meetings each month (or more frequently) to discuss DEI as a team.

Finally, apply a DEI mindset to every aspect of your business, from hiring to training to customer service and vendor selection.

If you need help, put someone in charge of ensuring your DEI programs and policies are carried out. Or, if you have the means, create a position that deals solely with the issue and hire someone who can advocate DEI within your business on a full-time basis.

Business owners that successfully integrate DEI into their culture set themselves up for success by embracing new people and ideas. While the concept of inclusion isn’t revolutionary, putting it into practice can give your business an entirely new outlook.


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