Leadership and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, have always been an area of importance for most organizations. Looking back to 2020, with an unforeseen global pandemic and multiple cases of racial injustices across various communities, DEI, became a more important priority on the agenda for organizations. Many organizations began reconfiguring priorities around DEI and started to build more diverse teams as it became evident that building and promoting DEI, is not only the right thing to do, but also smart business practice.
In the workplace, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) relates to the actions taken by organizations to establish awareness and transform mindsets, behaviors, and practices to create and sustain a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.
This article will discuss the role of leaders in respect of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, for the road ahead.
Let us first review what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion means:
Diversity in my view is all about the uniqueness of individuals, which sets one apart from the other. This can include demographics, cultural origins, skills and competencies, ideas, perspectives beliefs and attitudes.
Equity refers to that culture where all individuals have equal access to opportunity by means of practices, policies, and processes of the organization.
Inclusion is a feeling of belonging, it is how organizations create an environment where individuals’ unique backgrounds and demographics are welcomed, valued, respected, and individuals can be their authentic selves. An inclusive work environment endeavors to remove all barriers, discrimination, and intolerance.
When we put these words together: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, it becomes an immensely powerful phrase. It is saying that your organization welcomes and values all individuals and will be treated fairly and equitably in all aspects of the business.
Leaders will continue to play an integral role in promoting on-going initiatives of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Leaders must genuinely believe in the initiatives and expectations they present to their teams. In other words, leaders need to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” Being aware is great, however it does not result in change. Leaders must actively continue to make Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the workplace their top priority, execute a DEI action plan and measure their success over time. When leaders align awareness and education with targeted actions, progress towards change can be possible.
Leaders must have a direct, firsthand approach in this important initiative. This is no longer a HR matter only. In our evolving world, leaders must lean into critical leadership skills, having the ability to analyze issues through an equity lens, to authentically engage diverse people and perspectives and interact across cultures.
The success of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) will come down to that leader who is willing to do the challenging work of evaluating the true nature of their organization and taking the necessary steps to implement change. When leaders make it a priority to establish trust, show a commitment to empathetic leadership and apply emotional intelligence with their interactions with team members, the adoption of DEI initiatives will not only be championed, but they will also be successful.
The leaders of tomorrow will demand their employers create a culture that supports the value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Whilst training and HR initiatives can be helpful, it is only through the actions of committed leaders including their ability to be open-minded, curious, and respectful of others, can true transformational change take place, for the road ahead.