Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Are Important
First, let’s begin by establishing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. Everyone benefits from a more diverse and inclusive workplace, from employees who feel their voice is heard to employers who see better performance from their employees, . This is true regardless of what industry you’re in.
When it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, flexibility is the key to success. By offering your employees increased flexibility in terms of work hours, location, working style etc., you are showing that you support all employees, regardless of their unique circumstances and situations. You are giving those employees an equal chance to thrive in the workplace.
Diversity is often associated with the people you hire. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. However, diversity is much more than just acknowledging and tolerating difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own
- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others
- Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Equity deals with the actions taken to promote diversity. What processes and procedures does your organization have in place to ensure your workplace is an inclusive one? Here are some questions to think about:
- Do you strive to hire diverse teams whose members all bring a fresh perspectives to the table?
- Does your organization offer peer mentorship programs to help employees support and encourage each other to go after promotions?
- Do employees feel encouraged to apply for promotions at junior, mid and senior levels?
Inclusivity is the next step to successfully supporting a diverse workforce: It’s all about creating an environment that welcomes and includes each employee so that everyone feels accepted, regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation and appearance etc.
How Workplace Flexibility Plays a Key Role in DE&I
A simple way to ensure your organization is focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion is to create a flexible workplace. Not only should your organization promote diversity in terms of the people you hire but it should also emphasize such diversity with regard to the ways your employees work. For example, with flexibility, your employees will feel comfortable leaving the office in the middle of the day to pick up their kids from school. The parent who has to work non-traditional hours to be present for her family will also not feel singled out due to her circumstance.
Flexibility In Action: Who Benefits From a Flexible Workplace
- Working moms (or dads) who need to take care of their kids during the day
- Employees who need to excuse themselves for religious reasons throughout the day
- Those who cannot afford to live in costly metro areas and spend hours commuting to and from the office daily
- Persons with disabilities who may not be physically able to get to work each day
- Anyone with a debilitating mental condition, such as PTSD, OCD or severe depression
The simple act of creating a flexible work environment can save money, resources and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.