Written by: Jahzara Norris
June is a month dedicated to the celebration of differences; in this month we recognize the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the freedom of Black people in America on Juneteenth. This month is an example of how far we have come as a society and how much we still have to grow. So, I think it’s only fitting that we discuss how the differences that we celebrate affect our companies and their customers. Every company’s chance at success can be summed up by one acronym, DEI. DEI stands for three values, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These values are what every company should strive to embody within their policies and hiring process. Studies have shown that proper DEI strengthens organizations and helps them better meet the needs of customers.
Companies often take advantage of Pride and other months like Black History to showcase how diverse and inclusive they are or at least pretend to be. However, companies should strive to have the same attitude every single day of the year. DEI goes deeper than the front face of a business, it includes its employees and day-to-day processes. Pushing the narrative of inclusion only once a year when the calendar deems it appropriate becomes very disingenuous. Companies need to have the same amount of diversity within their products/advertisements as within their internal offices. Including voices from all walks of life helps to create more reliable products and a more personable place of business where employees can feel comfortable.
When we talk about being inclusive to all, this includes those who have experienced incarceration as well as race, gender, and sexuality. Someone who has been incarcerated, and a mother returning from maternity leave both deserve fair treatment in the workplace. They are both coming back to the workforce after a period of absence, and both are just as eager to use their skills in an environment where they feel welcome and appreciated. DEI includes everyone in the same way, holding everyone to the same standards and rewarding everyone equally. Giving formerly incarcerated people the same chance to succeed as everyone else is a big part of why Labyrinth believes DEI is such an important focus for every company.
So, how does DEI affect a company? For starters, diversity can play a large role in the financial success of a company. Studies conducted by McKinsey & Company show that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity within executive teams were 25 percent more likely than companies in the fourth quartile to have above-average profitability (up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014).” For example, a company where more than 30% of its executives are women is 48% more likely to outperform less gender-diverse companies. The same goes for cultural diversity, as “companies in the top quartile bested those in the fourth quartile by 36 percent in profitability.” Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace allow for a broader range of perspectives on topics of discussion, thus improving the quality of decision-making. It also improves the company's image, attracting more talent and consumers.
McKinley lists five main areas of action companies can use to bolster DEI.
- Fair representation of diverse talent
- Strengthen the accountability and capability of leadership
- Always be fair and transparent
- Promote openness and respond promptly to microaggressions and discrimination
- Provide unequivocal support for all the ways diversity can manifest
Employees who feel properly included in the workplace feel stronger ties and commitment to their employer, leading to higher engagement levels. Lack of inclusion could be the deciding factor of where a person chooses to be employed. Ultimately a company that puts a major focus on its DEI will be much more successful than ones that do not. More people value DEI measures than the majority of companies tend to realize. Emphasizing DEI in major organizations is an important step to making the workplace a better place for employees.