- Diversity, equity, and inclusivity are sensitive subjects.
- Although many global societies have attempted to lessen the hardships experienced by diverse, marginalized people over the last century, innate biases, prejudices, and even bad habits still linger, especially in the workplace.
- While there’s no miracle cure to instantly fixing the issue, awareness is the next best thing.
- Here’s a rundown of five common misconceptions surrounding the collective topic of workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) and tree ways leaders can improve their efforts in 2022.
Diversity, equity, and inclusivity at the workplace were sensitive subjects in the past years and they remain on leader’s priority list for 2021.
Here is a rundown of five common misconceptions surrounding the collective topic of workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) and three ways leaders can improve their DEI efforts in 2022.
DEI Myths Debunked
Organizations that fail to address DEI concerns in the workplace underperform in the market, according to the latest research. This leads to a less capable workforce, missed business opportunities, legal repercussions, and unequal employment systems, according to a recent Dale Carnegie report. But understanding the truth behind the following misconceptions is a great first step toward improvement.
- Myth #1 Diversity, equity, and inclusion only benefit minority groups. Reality: Although minorities stand to gain the most immediate results of successful diversity programs, DEI actually benefits everyone, especially those working in an organization or team of people. Organizations with higher rates of diversity, for example, enjoy better employee engagement and less turnover. Those are two key metrics of more satisfied employees, which in itself results in higher productivity and profitability. On top of that, a diverse workforce leads to less groupthink, which is a serious inhibitor of innovation and performance.
- Myth #2 DEI is about hiring less qualified candidates. Reality: While it’s true that some well-intentioned quota programs can inadvertently lead to less qualified candidates, that’s not the goal of DEI. Diversity is about welcoming people in, not keeping people out. It’s about removing unconscious and sometimes conscious biases towards different people. So long as the door is open for everyone to have an opportunity, may the best, most qualified candidate win.
- Myth #3 Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all the same things. Reality: Obviously, these topics are closely related. But they are not the same. Diversity and equity are both outcomes. Inclusion is a noble goal. On top of that, some people feel “inclusion” is insufficient, and therefore want to add “belonging” into the equation. That’s to say, just because you include someone in the group, doesn’t mean you truly make them feel part of the group, doesn’t mean you truly make them feel part of the group (i.e. people have always been outcasted, even if they’re superficially allowed to be in or part of the group). The goal is to welcome people, and then keep welcoming them once they’ve joined, especially if they think, act, or look different than you (See also: Psychology Safety in the Workplace).
- Myth #4 Training solves everything. Reality: As a training company, we wish it was this simple! While training programs are a great way to increase targeted awareness and results among individuals, research shows that the best DEI organizations are led by c-suite executives that make DEI a priority instead of afterthought. According to a recent Josh Bersin Company study on “Elevating Equity,” fewer than 12% of companies include senior leaders in their inclusion and diversity goals, and 76% have no diversity or inclusion goals at all. Although 32% of organizations mandate diversity training, the same study found DEI excellence is spotty at best. When c-suite executives take the charge, however, organizations are six times more likely to improve diversity.
- Myth #5 Diversity is the goal. Reality: While that might seem obvious, long-term inclusivity is the goal; diversity is the healthy result of effective and ongoing inclusivity. In other words, diversity only thrives in an inclusive environment. When that happens, business outcomes (including profitability), organizational effectiveness, and workforce outcomes (i.e. employee satisfaction) all improve as diversity increases, according to a recent Dale Carnegie study
How Leaders can Improve their DEI Efforts
Although talking about the topic is the logical first step towards improving long-term inclusivity, words can only get you so far. When considering how to improve your diversity and ultimately the performance of your organization and employees, consider these three important actions:
- Listen: More than any other action, listening to employees is the biggest step towards excellence. While some leaders might give the appearance of listening without taking anything that’s being said to heart, true leaders are vulnerable to learning from their employees and taking their concerns seriously when making decisions on behalf of the entire organization. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Very important people have told me that they prefer good listeners to good talkers, but the ability to listen seems rarer than almost any other good trait.”
- Execute: First and foremost, we encourage leaders to set the standard with their actions. Since leaders own the culture, they must tend to it daily to make a difference. This kind of executive commitment must be genuine and sustained (not just casually or periodically). By being more culturally aware, recognizing unconscious bias, and actively participating in DEI efforts, leaders can have an enormous impact on diversity outcomes in the workplace.
- Train: This goes far behind new HR programs. It includes training for both leaders and new hires, yes, and everyone in between as well. For a list of Dale Carnegie Diversity & Inclusion programs in your area, plus both in-person and online courses workers, click here. For additional help, please contact your local Dale Carnegie office today. Additionally, training goes well beyond D&I; you can use it to equip employees with the skills and competencies needed to reach their full potential.