A Human Resource Professional’s Guide to Promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging in the Workplace

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace is where everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feels equally involved and supported in all areas. In order to achieve this, organizations need to consider the whole person and how systemic barriers and access to opportunities can affect your peoples’ wellbeing.

Why we created this:
Whether you’re a CHRO, CPO, CDO, Head of HR, People + Culture, your role as a human resource leader is to ensure the people in your organization can do their best work and reach their potential so the business also wins. By ensuring people feel psychologically safe, and embedding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) throughout the organization’s strategy, policies, processes, programs, systems, and all touchpoints of the candidate and employee journey, you can provide an equitable experience and create access to the same opportunities for everyone. In doing so, you will also have ensured your organization has a strategic advantage against the competition. You are the champion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in your workplace.  

Developing the DEIB lens is a growth journey, and for your workplace to achieve full DEIB transformation, it will take trust and buy-in from leaders across the organization. DEIB is a business strategy, not just an HR strategy. To do DEIB right, it is critical to include it as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, as well as your procurement efforts, by ensuring you have a strategy around supplier diversity. It can feel complex, but understanding the different topic areas within DEIB will create an equitable experience for all. Don’t be afraid to call in expertise and support when needed! External experts can provide employees with a safe space to share their voice, and to give a solid outside perspective. Tackling DEIB without expertise can do more harm than good.

livingHR is The Work Agency™ that's humanizing work for a living. Strategies formed with experts. Work designed by creatives. Business wins powered by people wins.

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Diversity, equality, equity, and inclusion are terms we hear a lot about today, but what exactly do they mean? ​

Diversityis about the different characteristics that make each of us unique. This includes age, gender, race, disability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, height, weight, work style, and all the other dimensions that you will learn more about in the Dimensions of Diversity model below.

Equity means ensuring all individuals have what they need to succeed and participate fully, accounting for different access to opportunities, status, and rights.  

Equality denotes how people are treated and focuses on making sure everyone gets the same opportunities.  

Inclusion is creating an environment of belonging where employees feel welcomed, supported, respected, and valued, and provides an environment that encourages them to contribute their best work.

"Equality is giving everyone the same pair of shoes. Equity is giving everyone a pair of shoes that fits." — Author unknown

To have true inclusion, we believe that employees must feel a sense of belonging. This is the feeling of security and support when a member of a certain group or place has a sense of acceptance, inclusiveness, and identity.  Our perspective is that diversity, equity, and inclusion should be engrained at every touchpoint of the employee experience and not “in addition to” to truly transform your workplace.  

Diversity lives in each of us

When it comes to better understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion, a widened perspective starts with this simple truth: diversity lives in each of us.​ Each of us have unique factors that make up and influence our individuality. Creating a deep understanding of what constitutes diversity allows us to effectively engage, connect, and serve all members of our community.

The Dimensions of Diversity Wheel was developed in 1990 by Marilyn Loden and Judy Rosener. It is an evolving framework that illustrates some of the key dimensions of diversity and the importance of understanding the intersectionality across multiple dimensions that informs an individual’s identity and experiences.

livingHR's model below has been adapted from this concept and is intended to be used as a reflective tool to develop your own understanding of the impact of diversity on your life and the internal and external dimensions of each of us. Our dimensions and the depth of who we are as people is complex and are too often simplified into race and gender.

External diversity: Elements of a person’s identity that may or may not change either through action, life catalysts, accessibility. Some examples are  education, personal experiences, location, family status.

Internal diversity: Diversity or identity characteristics a person is born into. Some examples are race, ethnicity, health status, and invisible disability.

Core diversity: These are characteristics that describe someone’s approach to life such as world views, personality, leadership style, and empathy. Internal and external diversity can come together to form core diversity. These items can be influenced and changed but are ultimately connected.

Differing Barriers and accelerators are all things that affect the entire person  So, if we’re all diverse, why are organizations focused so much on external diversity (the optics)? Because it’s hard to believe leadership is committed to diversity when there is no physical evidence of it within the culture. It’s also important to understand the barriers that exist for those most marginalized and create equitable policies and practices which level the playing field when it comes to hiring, opportunities for growth, participation, and promotions.

So, if we’re all diverse, why are organizations focused so much on external diversity (the optics)? Because it’s hard to believe leadership is committed to diversity when there is no physical evidence of it within the culture. It’s also important to understand the barriers that exist for those most marginalized and create equitable policies and practices which level the playing field when it comes to hiring, opportunities for growth, participation, and promotions.

These stats show how important it is for employers to fully transform their organization to be an inclusive and diverse workplace. Keep reading to learn how to approach DEIB in your workplace.

Explore more of our free resources below:

Table of Contents

The Importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in the Workplace Right Now

We spend 90,000 hours in our lifetime at work – an abundant amount of time away from family, loved ones, and hobbies. The “employee of the now” is reconsidering their relationship with work and whether or not that relationship honors their human need to be themselves. If they are not treated with compassion, or do not feel seen, valued, or heard at the place that they spend the majority of their lives, then they will find an employer that will offer them that sense of psychological safety and belonging.

By focusing on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, your employees will feel a greater sense of purpose and connection to your company. Employee engagement and satisfaction will increase and talent will stay. Innovation thrives at the hands of happy employees. There are a lot of reasons why diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace are important.

Below, we have highlighted some of the top reasons:

  • The workforce is changing; workplaces must change with it
  • Talent is looking to align with what your brand stands for
  • Consumers want to buy from companies that do more
  • Diversity is a strategic advantage for business
  • It’s our social responsibility as employers

Why diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important

Self-Assessment: How Diverse is Your Organization?

Do you know where your organization falls on the DEIB Maturity Model? Take the self-assessment to gauge where you are and where you want to be. This maturity model is not a one-size-fits-all approach and is meant to ebb and flow based on your company’s goals and strategic initiatives.

ADDITIONAL READING: Self-Assessment: How Diverse is Your Organization?

Our Approach: DEIB Transformation Model Explained

livingHR takes a holistic, transformational approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe that attracting and hiring diverse talent, humanizing employee experiences for everyone, and creating a community of inclusion are our organizational pillars.

These pillars are supported by three foundational elements that drive our outcomes:

  • Creating an equitable culture
  • Ensuring leaders are bought in
  • Integrating DEIB within the entire organization's strategy

To achieve inclusion and equity, we need to examine the organization's systems, policies, and practices to ensure ALL employees have equal access to success. During our DEIB transformation process, we seek to create a sense of belonging and inclusion for the existing diversity within organizations while intentionally identifying ways to increase the representation of underrepresented demographics within the company.

ADDITIONAL READING: DEIB Transformation Model Explained

Actions to Take Now to Attract and Hire Diverse Talent

Do you have a compelling talent brand that candidates are eager to join? Does it fully align with what your internal culture shows? Ensuring that you broaden your talent pool, avoid biases in job descriptions, selection practices, and the interview process, and convey your DEIB approach in your talent brand will show your candidates that diversity and inclusion is essential in your workplace culture.

ADDITIONAL READING: Actions to Take to Attract & Hire Diverse Talent

Actions to Take Now to Humanize Your Employee Experience for Everyone

Most organizations understand that the talent experience does not stop after the individual is hired, but DEIB efforts almost always end there. Intentionally focusing on humanizing the entire employee journey, recognizing that everyone has lived vastly different lives with diverse experiences, is what it truly takes to move the needle. Focusing on fostering an inclusive environment of continuous learning, feedback, and equitable business practices is incredibly important in retaining talent and humanizing the employee experience.

ADDITIONAL READING: Actions to Take to Humanize the Employee Experience

Actions to Take Now to Create a Community of Inclusion

DEIB transformation doesn’t stop within your workplace walls; organizations that break down those walls and connect with external communities drive employee engagement and boost morale. So how do you create an inclusive community? You start by building a culture that shares a greater purpose -- one that your employees can feel good about and truly rally behind. Start by learning what your employees are passionate about, and encourage give-back opportunities. Employees that feel connected to your purpose will be more engaged and fulfilled.

ADDITIONAL READING: Actions to Take to Create Community

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