DEI in the Workplace: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Diversity, equity and inclusion — commonly referred to as DEI — has taken center stage in the workplace. To have DEI in the workplace, employers must actively work to create meaningful change in spite of the history of injustice that has marginalized underrepresented groups within the workplace.

Catalina Colman, Director of HR and Inclusion at Built In, helps breakdown DEI in the workplace so that it is easy to understand. First, we will start with understanding diversity.

What is Diversity?

Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. In the workplace, that can mean differences in race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic class. It can also refer to differences in physical ability, veteran status, whether or not you have kids — all of those are components of diversity.

When we think of diversity in the workplace, we often think of physical, visible differences. However, it’s important to be mindful of diversity of thought and the important role it plays.

Why Diversity Matters

“From a business standpoint, different perspectives directly influence a product — how it’s made, who it serves, how it functions and so on,” says Colman. “More perspectives make for a better product.” People from different backgrounds with varying life experiences will be able to provide new perspectives that help refine and enhance processes.

Colman points out, “If we have diverse voices in the room driving the change that companies are working towards, and we’re giving every individual the opportunity to be challenged, who’s to say what we can’t achieve?”

“There’s a level of innovation that diversity contributes to,” adds Colman. “People bring a unique framework to the job that enables them to approach problems differently and propose unique solutions. The more diverse voices there are in your organization, the better your outcomes will be, purely from a business standpoint.”

However, Colman urges employers to look beyond the business case. “I believe that if we give people the equitable opportunity to not only be employed, but to have employment with purpose and passion, our society can and will do great things. It’s a measurable good for everyone.

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