Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Discussions regarding EDI in the Workplace or Establishing EDI Policies have been increasing in the workplace. But what does EDI mean? Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) takes all perspectives and experiences into account when building a community in today’s environment. Equity focuses on giving different populations equal access to opportunities, while diversity is concerned with recognizing the distinct attributes and experiences of each unique community. Most importantly, inclusion ensures under-represented groups participate and be heard by the larger community. Equity and diversity are the seats at the table, while inclusion is actively bringing them into the conversation and asking their opinion.
When we consider the unique and different experiences of each employee in the workplace, inclusion is a centralized theme. Some employees experience more inclusion than others, due to personal characteristics being out of their control. For example, some LGBTQ+ employees experience stigma in the workplace in the form of homophobic slurs or discourse, which leads to decreased engagement and productivity on an organizational level.
With experiences like these in the workplace, it can be clear that inclusion looks different for everyone. It is integral leadership takes the appropriate steps to limit these negative outcomes through proper the development of an inclusive workplace culture.
What the Employer Can do to Enhance Inclusion
The first thing employers can do to enhance workplace inclusion is to establish specific HR policies and practices that signal to minority groups that they are safe to express themselves in this community. The way in which HR develops and communicates their strategy is particularly important, as it’s an opportunity to show true allyship rather than performative action.
The next step is to have conversations with staff on their perception and experience of these specific workplace policies and practices that focus on enhancing inclusion. Being open to feedback and conversation with your employees is a direct example of how leadership can be more inclusive, and how minority groups can feel welcomed and safe in a workplace.
The last step is to provide hands-on learning opportunities for staff to identify areas of improvement, and to learn individualistic and organizational strategies to enhance inclusion of minority employees. This step focuses on transforming those policies and conversations into actionable items within the organization that result in a real change in behaviour.
What Change Looks Like
Creating a safe working environment for the minority and/or vulnerable communities through policy, practice and learning leads to many positive outcomes. Inclusion has been shown to increase authentic participation from employees in the workplace. This authenticity manifests through increased effort and ownership of individual work, as well as more engagement across the organization, enhancing workplace culture and productivity.
As an Employer
Ask yourself – What are you doing to actively include the minority communities in your workplace? How are you fostering a safe, inclusive and authentic workplace for your employees to thrive in?