7x7 EVP Framework, Part Four: DE&I and Belonging

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is without question the single and most important issue in business today. Why? Because it promotes what is right — equality, respect and inclusivity for a more just and fair society and a more productive workplace. 

A strong DE&I strategy is essential for creating a workplace culture where all employees are valued and included. It’s a place everyone feels they belong. Addressing DE&I shows the company cares about its talent, and in return, boosts engagement, motivation and retention. It’s another crucial element of your Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

In this post, we demystify the differences between DE&I and belonging, and their wide-reaching benefits for company and employee performance. 

Understanding DE&I

DE&I and belonging are equally powerful components of EVP. They are essential for creating a positive and inclusive work environment which in turn can strengthen creativity, innovation and decision-making, employee satisfaction and engagement. Beyond that, they enhance your employer brand in the marketplace. 

But in order to embed DE&I and belonging’s benefits into your company culture, it helps to first understand their distinctions.

Diversity is the variety of differences among individuals, including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, neurodiversity, sexual orientation and cultural background.  

Equity refers to the fair treatment of all people, and the distribution of resources and opportunities, ensuring that everyone has access to what they need to succeed, regardless of their differences. 

It’s important to highlight that equity differs from equality. Equality is the idea that all people have the same intrinsic value and deserve equal rights and access. However, equity recognises differences in individual circumstances and adjusts treatment to ensure every person has the tools to achieve the same outcome. 

Inclusion is about creating a culture where everyone feels valued, respected and supported, and where diverse perspectives and experiences are actively sought out and integrated.

Belonging relates to an employee’s feeling of being accepted and valued for their uniqueness, and this acceptance allows them to bring their whole self to work. 

Defining diversity is the first step in building a strategy to address it, as it creates a shared understanding and vision of what DE&I in the workplace means. Having this conversation early avoids misunderstandings and miscommunication. The team can then work effectively toward goals and objectives. 

Importantly, by defining what diversity means, it is possible to track and evaluate measurable progress. DE&I strategy shouldn’t be lip service — it must make real progress toward meaningful workplace change. 

sign-up-ctaDE&I through a commercial lens

DE&I strategy, done right, can lead to a more productive, innovative and profitable business while making a positive impact on broader society. Here are a few benefits you can expect in the near term:

  • Improved talent attraction and retention. A company with a strong DE&I culture is more likely to attract and retain top talent, reducing turnover and increasing employee engagement.
  • Increased innovation and creativity. DE&I in the workplace can drive creativity and innovation by bringing together people from different backgrounds with different perspectives and ideas.
  • Enhanced market reach. By understanding and catering to the needs of diverse customer segments, companies can increase their market reach and tap into new growth opportunities.
  • Improved financial performance. Companies with a diverse and inclusive workplace tend to have better financial performance (19% higher innovation revenue, according to Harvard Business Review). High performance is attributed to increased employee productivity, higher customer satisfaction and reduced legal and reputational risks.

What about DE&I’s future impact?

DE&I is appealing to job candidates because it demonstrates a commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture. Companies prioritising DE&I, particularly those that can demonstrate concrete action, benefit greatly from enhanced employer brand and reputation.

Job seekers are positively influenced by diversity scores in job advertisements, according to a 2021 study. Such information conveys the quality of the company and helps job seekers find workplaces with which their values align. Therefore, DE&I can increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining talent among diverse groups, in particular, those seeking inclusive and equitable work environments.

EVP Framework: managing DE&I in your business

Navigating the sensitivity of DE&I is achievable, even for companies trying to catch up. By applying the following seven tips, you can build and manage a DE&I strategy that is effective, sustainable, and creates a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.
  1. Start with a clear vision and commitment. Develop a clear vision and strategy for DE&I that aligns with the company's values and goals, and ensure senior leaders are committed to this vision.
  2. Assess the current state. Conduct an analysis of the current state of DE&I within your company, including data on representation, retention and experiences of diverse employees.
  3. Engage with stakeholders. Engage with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders to understand their perspectives and experiences and gather feedback and input on the strategy.
  4. Define specific goals and metrics. Define specific, measurable, actionable goals and track progress against these goals using data and metrics.
  5. Embed DE&I into all HR processes. Ensure DE&I is integrated into all people processes, from recruitment and onboarding to performance management and succession planning.
  6. Foster a culture of belonging. Create a culture where everyone feels valued, respected and supported, and diverse perspectives and experiences are sought. 
  7. Continuously evaluate and improve. Continuously evaluate the DE&I strategy and programs, seeking feedback from employees and stakeholders and making improvements based on what works and what doesn't.

Bringing it all together

DE&I and belonging have taken centre stage in recent years and for good reason. With sensitivity and understanding, you can strengthen the EVP and lead progress toward company goals. Start with a clear vision and commitment from the leadership, and with enough commitment, you can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture that benefits everyone. 

In our next post, we explore how a supportive work environment promotes work-life balance and ultimately contributes to company success. 


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