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Reaping the Full Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

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Diversity is an asset that businesses do not fully appreciate. How can you leverage and encourage it?

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) management in business is defined as the attraction and management of practices that promote the inclusion of women, Aboriginal peoples, different cultural communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ community, experienced workers and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

However, many companies still do not understand these practices today. Progress toward greater DEI, particularly gender parity in senior management, has moved more slowly over the past decade than it should have.

And while there is currently greater participation, higher levels of education, and comparable qualifications, diversity groups are still underrepresented in business. They have higher rates of unemployment than other groups. Their career paths are more difficult and there is still underrepresentation in various functions within organizations.

And yet, organizations have much to gain by promoting a better representation of the population in their workforce, including managers and senior management positions. This is not just about addressing the labour shortage, it’s about providing enriched workplaces and making decisions that are more responsive to all client groups.

Recognizing the benefits of a diversity policy

According to a study of diversity in the workplace (OECD, 2018, 2020), the reasons for companies to embrace diversity are to:

  • Enrich their human capital (67%);
  • Stimulate creativity and innovation (46%);
  • Address ethical considerations (43%);
  • Address labour and skill shortages (37%);
  • Meet legal obligations (37%).

The impact of more diversity within an organization is even greater than we might think. Diversity of ideas is linked to:

  • Better decision-making;
  • Better risk management;
  • Better financial performance;
  • Greater potential for innovation;
  • A stronger sense of belonging.

While your intention to be a diverse and inclusive company may be genuine, words are not enough. It’s actions that count. Doing it right, however, starts with a realistic plan and clear goals to define the practices you will put in place.

Adopting diversity, equity and inclusion management best practices

We suggest an eight-step approach based on best practices to help you prepare for the implementation of a DEI management initiative in your organization.

1. Getting management’s commitment

The first step is to ensure that the organization’s leaders are committed to DEI.

Ideally, members of management will draft the policy and identify initiatives.

A practice leader will then be appointed to ensure implementation and dissemination of key information to all groups within the company.

2. Setting up a committee

The next step is to set up a DEI advisory committee or management committee in the organization.

3. Setting performance indicators

You will need to allocate a specific budget to manage and implement your DEI practises. You should identify and implement monitoring and performance indicators related to the program.

For example: the number of women managers compared to the total number of managers; the number of visible minority managers compared to the total number of managers; and so on.

4. Planning awareness training

There are DEI courses available for different levels of managers and employees. Various topics are covered, such as unconscious bias, intuitive practices and reflexes, ingrained preconceptions, employee evaluations, etc.

5. Providing programs to foster inclusion

You will then need to integrate various programs that promote DEI, such as a career management or leadership program.

6. Updating procedures

Over time, your organization developed numerous human resource management policies and procedures that will need to be reviewed and adjusted to reflect the new DEI management approach.

7. Providing for mentoring and fostering networking

To create a sense of belonging and attraction that will generate a feeling of social security in your workplace, encourage your teams through diversity mentoring and networking.

8. Evaluating results on an ongoing basis

Lastly, an internal survey is a good way to determine whether your various approaches are successful and ascertain the change in practices, observe adaptations to standards and procedures and gather employee feedback.

To complement this process, support relationships with vendors who advocate DEI management practices in the workplace.

Efforts must be continued and measured for more than five years in order to properly implement this new organizational culture and to see the results of these changes.

Adapt your policies to foster DEI management

Since a business is a self-contained system, it is important to review all management practices, especially internal human resource management policies. Many of the policies implemented in some organizations do not necessarily contribute to better DEI management. Some of these should be given greater attention.

Recruiting policy

Your recruiting policy should evaluate various aspects, such as:

  • Draft gender-neutral job postings;
  • Postings in targeted networks;
  • Anonymous CV recruiting;
  • Using employee photos showing diversity in promotional campaigns or on the corporate website.

New employee onboarding and training

Initiatives should be included as of employees’ first day at work. Consider:

  • Include diverse members in corporate presentations and training for new employees;
  • Promote the development of inclusive practices among current employees.

Succession and career management policy or practices

Action should be taken to correct subconscious bias:

  • Avoid unconscious stereotype biases in performance management practices and potential assessments;
  • Identify candidates for management succession and critical jobs and the required profiles for their staffing.

Work/personal life reconciliation policy and cultural holidays

Achieving the right balance of differences is a challenge. You need to:

  • Ensure multicultural representation in the company’s practices, without generating favoritism;
  • Respect internal equity and organizational integrity.

We now encourage you to take a step back and look at the makeup of your executive committee and board of directors. Ask yourself how you could optimize their membership and promote diversity.

Never underestimate the strength of a multicultural, multi-gender and multi-generational team, both in the search for solutions and its impact on the organization’s performance.

Take it one step at a time, and don’t hesitate to consult our experts to integrate a structured approach to promote diversity, equity and inclusion management within your entity.

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