As organizations navigate the transition to hybrid work, one major area to focus on is how to properly address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Prioritizing diversity in your organization can have profound effects on innovation, productivity, and morale. Check out these insights and tips from experts and thought leaders — recorded in Prezi Video — to understand how to improve DEI in your workplace.
First things first — what is “DEI”? Before you can enact meaningful change in your organization, you’ll first need some baseline knowledge of the terms you’ll encounter. Dr. Allison Upshaw, a diversity facilitator and the Director of Faculty Development at Stillman College, defines some common words related to diversity, such as “ally,” “bigotry,” “bias” (both explicit and implicit), “equity,” and more:
But not everybody can fit into a single classification, and it’s crucial to understand how different identities can blend together to form unique challenges and inequalities. Katya Veleva, the Director at DEI coaching company Blush Cloud, takes a closer look at the concept of intersectionality and how reality is often more complex and nuanced than we expect:
Why DEI initiatives are not just important, but vital to your organization
While many people recognize the importance of DEI in the workplace, it can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks and deprioritize DEI initiatives. However, doing so may end up hurting your organization in the long run. Danielle Taylor, the Deputy CEO at TMI Consulting, points out that diverse and inclusive companies are nearly twice as innovative and generate 1.4 times the revenue than non-inclusive companies.
She also notes how the shift to hybrid work has actually made it easier for DEI. Organizations now have access to larger, more diverse talent pools from around the world. Plus, virtual work environments can also reduce the need for “code-switching,” reduce unconscious bias in performance measures, and reduce the risk of physical intimidation and posturing. Watch her Prezi video for more:
Anders Liu-Lindberg, a Partner at the Business Partnering Institute, also emphasizes the benefits that DEI can bring to an organization. He highlights how three factors of DEI — diversity of thought, a conscious effort to combat biases, and an inclusive environment where everyone can contribute — can combine to drive better and more impactful decision making:
Getting started with DEI in the hybrid workplace
Wanting to implement DEI policies is one thing, but actually implementing them can be daunting and challenging. That’s why Krischanna Roberson, the President of Collabovate Consulting, stresses the need for patience and time. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, and she says it’s crucial to get everyone aligned on terminology before turning to a more strategic phased approach:
To help you develop a more effective approach to DEI in the workplace, Sahra Kaboli-Nejad, the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at On, shares a few initial steps you should take. She recommends starting by identifying the ‘why’ behind your DEI strategy, assessing where your organization currently stands with existing DEI policies, and then determining accountability so that initiatives maintain forward progress. Learn more in her video:
Before you implement any DEI trainings in the workplace, though, there are a few things you should consider. Amie Ninh, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Manager at Clever Inc., details when you should (and shouldn’t) have DEI training, how to navigate resistance and discomfort around sensitive topics, and how to engage employees in the hybrid workplace. Watch her video for more considerations:
Addressing unconscious bias
More often than not, bias in the workplace isn’t overt or obvious. Rather, unconscious (or implicit) bias can be subtle and seemingly harmless, but that’s exactly what makes it dangerous. Andre Koen, the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Revo Health, explains that our brains make up stories to close information gaps. However, if we’re not conscious of our brain doing that, we end up operating off bad or incomplete information:
Career coach Dr. Jon Tam dives further into the science of unconscious bias. The human brain operates on two systems: one based on intuition and instinct (the “fast brain”) and another based on rational thinking (the “slow brain”). Because the “fast brain” is linked to implicit bias, he shares ways to change this behavior, including identifying patterns of behavior and taking a five-second pause before reacting. Watch his video for more tips:
But what happens when there’s an issue of unconscious bias across the entire organization? In his video, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, addresses how to approach and combat systemic bias. While he looks at bias in policing specifically, his tips can be applied to any organization: focus on a no-shame approach, highlight the dangers of unconscious bias, develop new mental habits, and make long-term commitments:
Ultimately, DEI in your workplace is not something you can ignore. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start thinking about how to bring meaningful DEI change to both your internal processes as well as your external activities (for example, read more from Shine Bootcamp’s Stefanie Grieser on diversifying your conference speaker lineups). Find even more inspiration and best practices around diversity in our Video Gallery.