Learn how diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace can improve employee well-being and business results.
It’s draining to feel like you can’t be or bring your whole self to work, but this is something that those in marginalized groups often experience. Because the mainstream filter of the world has been the straight, white, cis-gender, male lens, there’s a lot that’s been overlooked simply because it comes from someone who doesn’t fit those parameters. What’s overlooked in that process are the essential skills, experiences, and perspectives that all people bring to the table.
It’s no wonder, then, that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have finally become front and center in the workplace in recent years. Not only is increasing DEI a laudable goal on its own but there are also several reasons why it has become so central to the working world. DEI efforts are connected to:
- Employee well-being
- Social justice
- A business’s bottom line
Got some people at your business who aren’t entirely sold and not sure how to convince them? Here’s why DEI matters, from employee well-being to a successful People Ops strategy.
The link between DEI and employee well-being
As we explain in our POPS Guide and Checklist for Employee Well-Being, one study found that 42% of employees say social justice issues cause stress and anxiety, and 48% expressed interest in DEI programs.
A central goal of focusing on DEI is to reduce emotional tax and improve well-being.
Further, a 2019 study by Catalyst found that 58% of Asian, Black, Latinx, and multiracial professionals reported feeling like they had to be highly on guard to protect themselves against racial and gender bias at work. In addition, the survey found that those who said they felt higher levels of being on guard were also more likely to consider leaving their jobs more frequently and face challenges to their well-being.
This leads to an emotional tax that women and people of color have to pay to protect themselves from unfair treatment in the workplace. Not only does this mean that people can’t bring their whole selves, perspective, skills, and experiences to work, but that they’re having to spend time focusing on something else besides work. When that’s the case, it’s easy to see how promotions can slip away and into the hands of someone who doesn’t have to deal with the same pressures or employee well-being issues. That’s why a central goal of focusing on DEI is to reduce this emotional work and increase the emotional well-being that results.
Managers need help too
It’s not just employees who struggle without a focus on DEI, though. Managers often feel stuck, too, when they don’t know how to handle DEI-focused situations. The first survey found that three in 10 employees feel that managers cannot address diversity and inclusion issues. In addition, it found that two in every three managers think their companies should provide training to promote an inclusive workforce.
About a third of employees feel that managers are unable to handle diversity and inclusion issues.
This means that it’s time for companies to step up and take the lead on DEI before individual contributors and managerial talent start looking for the door.
Why DEI is central to People Ops work and employee well-being
As POPS people know, it’s never been just about the paycheck. Because POPS focuses on taking care of a company’s people and seeing them as customers rather than lines on a compliance spreadsheet, findings like these signal a significant shift that POPS professionals can all benefit from understanding.
It’s clear that people choose companies to work for based on several factors:
- The mission
- The purpose
- How the company gives back to the environment
- What the company does to give back to the community
- How the company supports the deconstruction of social injustice
Social injustice is what DEI helps to combat, which is why focusing on it is critical for POPS professionals. Today’s top talent cares about a lot more than their salary. Younger generations like Gen Z, in particular, care a lot about the social impact of their company. That’s why a focus on DEI can help you not only boost your talent acquisition and improve employee well-being but position your company for some major wins as well.
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DEI brings business benefits, too
As our POPS guide outlines, companies that focus on DEI report 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. They also see a 19% increase in revenue compared to less diverse management teams and are 1.7 times more innovative. As any businessperson knows, revenue and innovation are critical to business success.
DEI improves employee well-being but also has other business benefits.
Plus, with movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter leading the social conversation, there’s no time like the present to ensure your business is helping (not hindering) social justice. What companies big and small choose to focus on has ripple effects beyond the office doors since commerce drives so much of American culture and society. Working for a company that gets it helps those looking for work that matters feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. In the end, your employees — and your bottom line — will thank you for it.