How to cultivate diversity & inclusion in the workplace

December 15, 2021 Updated: September 28, 2023 6 min read

Cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace isn’t easy. Achieving real change is a challenge for many organizations. And too many well-intentioned efforts fall through.

But diversity and inclusion efforts improve company culture and increase equity for employees—so these challenges must be overcome.     

In this blog post, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to build inclusive workplaces. We’ve also included ten ways you can show your commitment to diversity and inclusion at work right away.

What is DEIB?

In recent years, DEI has come to the forefront, so you may already know a little about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). More and more companies have come to learn that DEI is crucial to the success and well-being of employees.

The latest evolution of DEI is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Let’s break down the “DEIB” acronym before we go any further. 

“D” is for Diversity

Definition: The state of including various social identities or groups in a workplace, organization, or community. Involves people of different races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, physical ability, ages, or places of national origin.

Diverse organizations are healthy organizations. Workplace diversity is critical to thriving, successful businesses and happy employees.

“E” is for Equity

Definition: An ongoing process that removes barriers for underrepresented groups, addresses historical harms, and promotes positive outcomes for people of all social groups.

Equity goes beyond equality. Equity recognizes that different employees need different levels of support and helps meet those needs.  

“I” is for Inclusion

Definition: The practice of celebrating and affirming diverse perspectives, different viewpoints, experiences, and problem-solving approaches. It allows people to bring their unique, authentic selves to any situation.

Inclusion ensures that underrepresented groups within your company are valued and accommodated. It helps foster community and strengthens teams.

“B” is for Belonging

Definition: A sense of security, acceptance, and support. People feel welcomed as members of the community.

Belonging is the key to unlocking the potential of your teams. When workers feel like they belong, performance improves, employee engagement increases, and turnover decreases.

What is DEIB in the workplace?

DEIB is essential to success in your workplace. Here are just a few of the many benefits of diversity at work:

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased innovation
  • Decreased turnover
  • Faster decision-making
  • Fewer errors
  • More engaged employees
  • Stronger company culture
  • Stronger leadership teams

When you commit to pursuing DEIB at work, you’re doing the right thing for your business and your employees.

Diverse coworkers smiling and shaking hands across a table

Why is DEIB so critical in today’s workplace?

More job seekers prioritize joining workplaces with a strong DEIB strategy—a third of applicants actively seek information on an organization’s DEIB efforts while looking for jobs. And 76% of job seekers say an inclusive workforce is important when evaluating job offers, while 39% of applicants will turn down a job if the workplace isn’t inclusive.

If your DEIB initiative isn’t up to scratch? You’re missing out on top talent.

10 tips for a more inclusive workplace

Wondering how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace? These ten tips will set you on the right path.

1. Implement diverse hiring strategies

The first step towards a more diverse workplace is a more inclusive hiring process. Use inclusive language in your outreach, prioritize transferable skills over educational backgrounds, and review redacted resumes to connect with more qualified and diverse candidates. Consider using an inclusive interview checklist to keep organized along the way.

When you’re building your talent pool, reach out to applicants in diverse spaces. For example, recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), connect with often-stigmatized applicants like the formerly incarcerated, or explore job boards dedicated to underrepresented groups.

2. Offer inclusive job descriptions

Inclusive job descriptions are a great way to boost DEIB efforts early in the hiring process. It might not sound like much—how could such a small part of the hiring process have such an impact?—but inclusive job descriptions are invaluable. Inclusive job descriptions are the first signal to diverse talent that you welcome them and you are committed to inclusion.

Inclusive job descriptions use language that makes job seekers feel comfortable applying and avoid language that discourages candidates, like masculine-coded words or discriminatory phrases. They also emphasize must-haves over nice-to-haves, which prevents great candidates from self-selecting out of the hiring process. An inclusive job descriptions tool can help audit your work and provide suggestions for improvement.

3. Provide diversity and inclusion training

An easy way to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is to offer regular training. Cultural competency training and unconscious bias training can help employees learn more about themselves and others. And facilitated discussions can help organizations approach difficult conversations productively. 

To help make sure your training is as effective as possible, don’t just offer education once then move on. Offer training consistently over time. And make pursuing DEIB an integral part of your company mission, vision, values, and culture. If you need help, engage outside professionals as educators and consultants.

4. Develop employee resource groups (ERGs)

ERGs are groups of employees who share common interests or identities. Employees who are part of effective ERGs report feelings of inclusion 83% of the time. ERGs also help attract potential employees. When job seekers know an ERG exists to support them, they’re more likely to consider working with your organization.

ERGs provide avenues for employees to advocate for change. They help members advance in their careers and provide mentorship. ERGs can benefit the community outside the office if they participate in volunteer work or donate to important causes. This kind of positive activity also benefits your employer brand.

Cheerful multiethnic colleagues using laptop together

5. Champion diversity and inclusion among leaders

People in leadership roles help shape the workplace culture. They should be intentional about promoting DEIB. When building an inclusive culture, employers need to ensure their employees are comfortable voicing their thoughts, have equal access to advancement, and feel connected to their co-workers.

Upper management champions of DEIB must be given the resources they need to implement organizational change. Make sure your Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs), key decision makers, or other DEIB advocates have spending power and decision-making influence. 

6. Provide flexible work arrangements

One of the most practical examples of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is flexible work arrangements. Flexible work arrangements might include job-sharing, remote work, compressed workweeks, or adjustable work times. Leave, like parental leave, sabbaticals, or leisure time, also respects the many needs of a diverse workforce.

This approach to work is appealing to many job seekers. It’s especially important to candidates who are challenged by the traditional 9-5, like caregivers, parents, people who live in different locations, people with disabilities, or individuals with chronic illnesses. If you provide flexible work arrangements, you’ll attract, and retain, a more diverse community of employees from all around the world.

7. Recognize and celebrate diversity

DEIB isn’t just all work and no play. Diversity is something to celebrate! Be intentional about honoring the many unique contributions of your employees. Foster a positive work environment that allows employees to be proud of themselves or learn from someone else.

Consider offering time off for holidays beyond the traditional Easter and Christmas days. For instance, include Jewish or Hindu holidays too. If you have employees from different countries, share a cultural calendar to encourage communication and education. And take time to recognize special events, like Pride Month, Juneteenth, or International Women’s Day.

Hand holding small heart painted rainbow colors

8. Review and update inclusive policies

When considering examples of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, DEIB policies are a must-have. Review existing policies or create new policies to reflect your organizational commitment to DEIB and fair treatment of all employees. 

Policies should make it clear that your workplace will be free of bullying, victimizing, or discrimination. They might highlight specific ways your workplace supports DEIB, resources for further education, DEIB audit practices, or where someone can go if they feel harmed by discrimination.

9. Foster open and respectful communication

The best way to start building an inclusive work culture is to open channels of communication. To have honest discussions, your employees should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts without fear of shame or retaliation. 

Outside professionals can help moderate challenging conversations or provide prompts for deeper discussion. Most importantly, build a culture where employees feel like they are respected and truly heard. Practice active listening, meet concerns with concrete solutions, and show appreciation for honesty.

10. Address microaggressions and bias

Microaggressions are subtle, indirect, or unintentional displays of discrimination. Don’t let them go unchecked. Examples of microaggressions include assuming someone won’t come to your work event because they have a disability, accidentally stereotyping your colleague based on race, or asking women to “smile more.” Educate your employees on microaggressions and their impact to help people communicate more respectfully.

Conscious bias has no place in your work community. Active discrimination is unethical, counter-productive to your DEIB goals, and illegal. Unconscious bias is a little trickier to address because they’re often like instincts we barely think about. Some of them keep us “safe,” like the bias towards using seatbelts or avoiding loud noises. Some of them are misinformed and need to be undone, like the unconscious bias that makes us unknowingly prefer someone of one gender, age, or race over another.

Measuring DEIB in your company

After you’ve learned how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you need to measure your progress. Too many companies have a strong DEIB strategy but fail to achieve their goals. Avoid falling into that trap by collecting data. Measure DEIB efforts to improve on weaknesses or do more of what’s working.

Metrics you can track:

  • Employee demographics
  • Turnover of employees from underserved communities
  • Pay equity and pay gaps
  • Leadership and new hire pipeline
  • Overall profitability
  • Innovation revenue
  • Promotion rates by demographic group

Consider conducting an adverse impact analysis or a series of employee surveys. Whatever you do, take a proactive approach to measuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace.

Chart of data and metrics with notebook and laptop

Overcoming common DEIB challenges

One of the most common challenges to DEIB efforts is the lack of achievable goals. Set measurable goals and continue adapting your strategy according to the results. You may need to implement additional focus groups, courses, or policies depending on company needs.  

Another issue that many DEIB efforts face is cultural resistance. Not all employees believe in the importance of DEIB at work, or some employees might feel like workplace efforts are only for show. Get buy-in from your leadership to foster a culture that values DEIB. And commit to follow through as you set and achieve your goals. Don’t let your employees down. Give them the inclusive workspace that they deserve.

Budgetary constraints are also often a problem for DEIB programs. Many organizations say they care about DEIB but don’t allocate the funds required to provide education, support to ERGs, or implement meaningful change. If you’re speaking to decision-makers, consider making the business case for DEIB—remind them that inclusive companies see increased productivity, engagement, and innovation. And make it clear that pursuing DEIB is simply the right thing to do.  

Intelligent tools can help advance DEIB 

Promoting DEIB at work takes time and effort—but the results are always worth it. Fortunately, new technology can help make pursuing DEIB easier. Great software can help track your DEIB metrics, provide diversity education, or make it easier for employees to work flexibly.

With the right technology, organizations can also deliver a more inclusive interview process. Use intelligent hiring platforms to redact resumes, support inclusive job descriptions, flag problematic interview questions, and reduce interviewer bias. You’ll build a more diverse and inclusive work community from the ground up.

Eliminate the gaps in your DEIB strategy today!

Schedule a demo to learn how Clovers’ hiring intelligence platform can help you advance DEIB in your organization. Show job seekers that you value DEIB with a truly inclusive hiring experience, and start building more diverse teams today.

Doug Leonard

Doug is constantly working to make the hiring process more objective, insightful, and informed. As a trusted leader in the recruitment industry, Doug is always ready to guide candidates and companies to (and through) a person-first hiring experience.

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