DEIB policies and initiatives have become an imperative for business success, but it is no longer enough to implement such measures coming from high management leaders' decisions. An effective inclusive and diverse environment where people have a sense of belonging needs to be embedded in and across the entire organization.
More and more we use technical and/or corporate-world terminologies in an effort to efficiently describe the many processes that make up an organization; think ESG for example, or CSR, SDGs… And as much as it makes sense to abbreviate all of these proceedings, it is easily arguable that we could be losing the broader meaning of them all by reducing important courses of action into easy-to-remember initials.
This is especially daunting given the fact that many of these newly popularized initials are actually significantly relevant for the improvement of companies’ sustainable performance, and therefore the advancement of an equitable social and economic development.
Today we wanted to focus on DEI or DEIB policies, this is Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging processes and practices inside a company. How can a company make sure all such qualities are being effectively implemented across its employees and it is not merely a compulsory HR procedure?
An inclusive workplace is a better workplace
As inclusion and diversity strategist and consultant Shirley Engelmeier defines it, inclusion is a call to action within the workforce that means actively involving every employee’s ideas, knowledge, perspectives, approaches, and styles.
New perspectives and approaches are enhanced thanks to diversity, this is, a broad and fair representation of different social identities, and made possible by equity, meaning there is an active effort to eliminate barriers and/or imbalances in order to ensure employees have the same access to opportunities.
Belonging, on the other hand, needs the latter three elements to be deeply established across the company, only then can such feeling come naturally as employees feel accepted and secure. This is where organizations need to step up and genuinely understand the importance of inclusion in order to make it an essential part of their business culture.
Building a DEIB culture
DEIB policies are not solely a competitive advantage, but rather an imperative for businesses. Diversity or inclusion initiatives will soon not be enough, and companies will quickly have to focus on building a culture where people feel a sense of belonging across the entire organization. In this regard we can talk about two primary goals: making DEIB an intrinsic part of the culture, and raising awareness on the matter across the company. Where do we start?
Creating a culture of inclusion
Oftentimes decisions seem to fall entirely on higher management levels, which can leave employees feeling as though their ideas are being controlled rather than heard and ultimately taken into account.
This is why creating an environment in which people feel not only the freedom, but the comfort to approach problems in their own way and on their own terms can help procure that sense of belonging among employees.
For example, managers or leaders can take the initiative to create inclusion circles, in which periodically employees can gather together and address business issues altogether, providing an open space for suggestions, raising awareness of specific issues or just merely catching up between themselves. Of course, the topics and diverse matters brought up in these meetings, or in any other similar set up, should be addressed and taken as an opportunity to improve the company’s culture and prevent similar mistakes from happening again by working to find the root cause.
Additionally to creating safe spaces for people to have their opinion heard and their problems addressed, feeling included and comfortable among your team of coworkers, including leaders, is the ideal scenario for innovation, creativity and honest engagement.
Transforming inclusion into a sense of belonging
While inclusion can be relatively easy to implement and measure throughout time in order to keep a continuous improvement, belonging is the emotional next step that can follow inclusion if done effectively. And although belonging can mean many different things for each individual, there are basic universal trades that can be identified such as feeling safe and welcome to participate and be oneself, and trust in other people’s roles.
Belonging is definitely a tricky one to address, specially because there are few if not none ways to measure emotions. However, some signs of a lack of belonging might look like people being afraid or anxious to speak up or even back-channeling concerns.
Focusing on belonging could be a far more effective way to frame inclusion and diversity properly and accordingly. This might require cultivating trust, strengthening communication chanels, supporting employees’ development or giving good and fair feedback to all.
Choose to be transparent
We believe and work for transparency to be one of the key values driving the fight for climate action, social wellbeing and good governance as it is the only way to understand what we are doing wrong, what we are doing right and what it is that we are not doing yet.
Because being transparent is a great learning and improvement mechanism. You cannot manage what you don’t understand.
In DoGood we are convinced of the need to understand and manage efforts to achieve a sustainable transition inside an organization for the correct and efficient functioning of the business and the community it operates in. We alone cannot achieve the substantial changes necessary, but we work on the basis of collaboration, transparency and accuracy in order to bring light to sustainable actions.
We have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.
If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.