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Defining Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a hot button topic within HR circles. There has been an increased push from organisations around the globe to create DE&I strategies. It’s easy to let the acronym become a buzzword that doesn’t mean anything. But it means something to us here at The Happiness Index. We believe that a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion will help organisations to empower their people to be their true selves at work. We call this “Freedom to be human” and it’s our company vision.


So what does DE&I mean and what might it look like in your organisation?


Defining diversity, equity and inclusion.

Let’s start with some quick definitions. We’ll begin by looking at what DE&I actually stands for. 


Defining Diversity, Equity, Equality & Inclusion


Diversity Definition


When we talk about diversity we’re talking about all the things that make us human. Every individual within an organisation is made up of a wide range of intersecting unique identities. When we talk about a diverse organisation, we’re referring to a workplace where people from a range of different races, ages, backgrounds and genders come together to create a thriving team. 


Equality Definition


Traditionally the E in DE&I stands for equality. An organisation that values equality focuses on giving all their employees equal access to jobs, progression and opportunities regardless of who they are and what intersecting identities they hold. 


Equity Definition


More and more frequently the E in DE&I stands for equity. Organisations that champion equity understand that everyone has different needs and experiences.  They appreciate that individuals will have different requirements and access to different opportunities to allow them to flourish. Therefore some people have natural advantages/disadvantages, so offering equal chances won't necessarily balance the scales. True equity is almost impossible to achieve, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to work towards. 


Inclusion Definition


Inclusion is the third step in the process. A diverse organisation is one where lots of unique individuals come together. An equal or equitable organisation is one where individuals’ needs and experiences are addressed. An inclusive organisation is one where individuals’ unique needs and experiences are built into the processes, spaces, policies and products of the organisation. This means that everyone is fully able to take part in life within an inclusive organisation. 


What Does Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Look like in Practice?


Increasingly organisations are aware of the importance of DE&I strategies, but what does it mean within an HR context?


When brought together, DE&I typically means a strategy that is spearheaded by HR and leadership teams. This strategy usually has the aim of building out an organisation's processes, spaces, policies, tools and technology to reflect its DE&I goals. 


One thing to remember is that DE&I, like most interesting and engaging projects, is a process, not a destination. It’s not something you’ll ever completely tick off the to-do list. Particularly if you’re aiming for equity. Remember how we said equity is almost impossible to achieve? That’s because inevitably when the individuals at your organisation change, you’ll have to address the unique needs and experiences of your new individuals and so the process continues. But please don’t be deterred!


Measuring Diversity & Inclusion


Due to the ongoing nature of DE&I, it’s really important to measure progress. Otherwise you won’t know if you’re moving in the right direction. 


That’s why we developed our Equality of Voice pre-built survey. The survey is designed to give you the real-time data you need to measure how your people are thinking AND feeling when it comes to your DE&I strategy and activities. 


When it comes down to it, the success of your strategy hinges on how your people react to the survey. We will provide all the tools and info you need to ensure high response rates, survey engagement and follow-up advice.


Benchmarking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


With any HR journey, it’s important to know where you started and where you’re going. That’s why our tools and dashboards allow you to benchmark not only against other organisations in your sector, or of your size, but also internally. 


As you develop, grow and implement DE&I in the workplace, you will be able to use our tools and pre-built surveys to accurately assess your progress. Plus, we will help you to identify areas where you may wish to focus your attention. 


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - The Importance of Anonymity


When it comes to creating diversity, equity and inclusion programmes, anonymity is vital. Particularly when you’re starting out on the journey. This is because - unfortunately - we still live in a world where people are marginalised and discriminated against based on their identities. When you’re gathering data about your people they will be more likely to give you reliable and accurate data when their anonymity is guaranteed by a third party. 


Our golden rule is that no data sets with less than 5 respondents will be visible. This means that your people can rest assured that they won’t be identified. This means they will provide honest and open feedback that will help you create positive change within your organisation.


Building Your DE&I Strategy


We recommend starting your DE&I strategy by asking for feedback, measuring it and benchmarking the current situation. This will allow you to identify relevant focus areas and map out what your journey might look like. 


For more information on the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, you can access our latest report on the figures.

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Elle Whitehead-Smith

"Elle is happiest when given plenty of puddings, popular novels and, particularly, perfect grammar."

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