The power of DEI

Small businesses are often seen as the backbone of the economy. Because of this, they’re granted an opportunity to lead the charge when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). While DEI may seem like the sound bite of this generation, it’s not. It’s a strategy movement that does more than meet a checklist of criteria—it promotes inclusivity in all realms of business.

At the end of the day, implementing DEI can help you build a stronger business. In this article, we’ll dive into the basics of DEI, explore the benefits it brings to small businesses and provide actionable steps you can take to create a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Understanding DEI

Diversity, equity and inclusion are three interconnected pillars that promote a culture where everyone—regardless of their background—feels included and is given equal opportunities to succeed. Incorporating DEI into your business means that you’re creating an environment for every employee to feel valued, respected and able to thrive. Let’s break down each pillar: 

  • Diversity refers to the variety of differences among people. But it’s not just about race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation. It encompasses much more than that—socioeconomic background, nationality, disability, education, talents, work experience, mental well-being and much more.

  • Equity focuses on fairness and creating a level playing field. Equity isn’t about treating everyone the same; it’s about recognizing everyone’s different needs, experiences and backgrounds—and treating employees fairly and equitably with a tailored approach or accommodations.

  • Inclusion goes beyond diversity—creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and included. It’s about empowering your entire team to contribute their unique perspectives on ideas or situations and bringing their talents to the table.

The benefits of DEI

With a better understanding of DEI under our belts, let’s talk about how implementing DEI in your business is beneficial.

  • It can enhance creativity and innovation. Diverse teams can bring a wider range of perspectives, which leads to more creative problem-solving and new ideas. Creating a team with different viewpoints can spark innovation and help drive business growth.

  • It can improve decision-making. When you promote an inclusive environment, employees feel encouraged to create open dialogue and give/receive constructive feedback. When employees feel comfortable being candid, this fosters better decision-making.

  • It can attract the best talent. When your business is consistently committed to DEI, it can help you find and retain top talent for your team. Many job seekers are looking for an environment that reflects their values of fairness and inclusivity.

  • It can promote better customer relationships. When your team is happy, so are your customers. Diverse teams are better equipped to understand and work with a broad client base, and this can lead to increased customer loyalty.

Actionable steps to incorporate DEI

Here are seven steps you can take to implement DEI in your business. 

  1. Get leadership involved: DEI efforts must start at the top—business owners must lead by example and demonstrate their commitment to DEI (i.e., actions speak louder than words).

  2. Conduct DEI training: Get your employees involved by investing in educational training and workshops about DEI, cultural competence and unconscious bias. Be sure to speak openly about these sessions to raise awareness.

  3. Review policies and practices: Ensure that your hiring, promotion and compensation policies don’t contain hidden biases. Make changes that are necessary to ensure fairness and equity. 

  4. Diversify recruitment: Expand your candidate pool by actively seeking out diverse talent. Reevaluate job advertisements to ensure there’s no bias in descriptions, and post job listings in additional locations, like community colleges. 

  5. Encourage a culture of inclusivity: Make space for employees to be open and honest about their perspectives, and ensure you’re accommodating the diverse needs of your team. 

  6. Create an employee resource group: Encourage the formation of an employee resource group that promotes celebrating diversity and allows your employees to connect and share their experiences. 

  7. Benchmark and measure progress: Regularly check in on your DEI efforts by collecting data and gathering feedback (i.e., sending surveys to your staff). Use their responses to adjust your strategies and make improvements.

DEI isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s essential to the success of your business. Embracing DEI leads to increased creativity, better decision-making and stronger relationships. Don’t wait—start your DEI journey today and watch your business flourish.

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