The pandemic wasn’t the only disruptor in 2020. Racial and ethnic unrest was a big part of the year of chaos, though it sometimes was lost among the other items vying for our attention. The pandemic, in combination with social unrest created a need for leaders at every level to pay more attention to their employees’ wellbeing. In response, companies are making DEI (diversity equity and inclusion) Strategy a major consideration moving into 2021.

Diversity is the presence of differences in a given setting. Diversity in the workplace refers to a workforce that reflects society. The things that make us unique, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic class are all part of diversity.

Equity is the act of making sure everyone has access to the same possible outcomes by creating and promoting programs and processes that are impartial and fair. Taking into account differences that hamper some groups from having a seat at the table is part of moving towards equity in the workplace.

Inclusion is how well contributions and perspectives of different groups of people are integrated into the workplace.  Making sure that everyone feels comfortable and supported by the company when they are being their authentic selves with no need to be someone different when they walk through the office door is key. Without inclusion, you can’t have diversity, because if an employee is uncomfortable, they will move on.

A truly diverse and inclusive workforce leads to a better employee experience and higher job satisfaction. Having diverse employees often results in higher productivity and innovation, as there is less consensus and more sharing of disparate ideas, as long as the environment is equitable and inclusive. If all views are heard and considered, everyone can feel safe to push back at the status quo and improve processes and interactions for all.

Ethnically and gender diverse companies show higher revenues, and are more successful at recruiting and retaining top talent. Inclusion positively affects a company’s brand and maximizes productivity and innovation.

Recruiters can be a key part of DEI strategies for organizations. They can focus on eliminating bias during the hiring process by writing job descriptions that use gender neutral language, and eliminates unnecessary job requirements. Gender neutral job listings get 42% more responses than listings using gendered key words. Enlist the aid of your recruiter in setting up your hiring process to be as unbiased as possible.

To be truly game changing, DEI can’t be a program that is run by one department and not embraced by the organization as a whole. The solution is not as simple as an annual seminar or a weekend retreat for your leaders. It must remain a work in progress to make a real difference, and leaders need to make sure that implementing DEI permeates every aspect of their business.