Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Aren't Just Buzzwords: Reasons to Build a DEI Committee

August 25, 2022
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Aren't Just Buzzwords: Reasons to Build a DEI Committee
When companies value multiple voices and experiences, they create better products, services, and interactions for their customers and employees. Unfortunately, some companies struggle to create a diverse and equitable work environment. The best companies consider diversity and inclusion when recruiting talent. Before you begin your diversity, equity, and inclusion or DEI journey, it's essential to:
  • Define what DEI is
  • Determine why DEI improves a workplace
  • Understand how a DEI committee can help you bring these issues to the forefront
By the end of this article, you'll have the knowledge you need to create space for DEI conversations at work.

What is DEI?

DEI is an acronym for diversity, equity, and inclusion. To some, DEI may seem similar, but each word brings a specific meaning to the workplace:
  • Diversity: Refers to the presence of differences between your employees. Diversity is variety in gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Equity: Equity is about providing fair and equal access for all of your employees. When you think about equity, different groups in your organization may need more resources and support to thrive. Companies provide these resources so that employees can show up as their best selves at work.
  • Inclusion: Inclusion is about making sure that employees from different backgrounds feel like they are part of the equation. Do you invite employees with varying backgrounds to company parties? Do you celebrate diverse holidays? These activities help employees feel included.
Diversity is the first step that companies must take, but it isn't the only one. Unfortunately, it's easy for diversity to become a box that's ticked if you don't think about equity and inclusion.

3 reasons DEI improves a workplace

Before building a DEI committee, you might be wondering why it's so crucial in the first place. There are 3 main reasons DEI improves a workplace:

1. Employee retention depends on diversity and inclusion

37% of candidates believe lack of diversity is a red flag.

When new employees consider your organization, they look at your company's perceived DEI strategies. According to data from OpenView Partners, 37% of candidates believe lack of diversity is a red flag. Another report from LinkedIn noted that 26% of professionals feel that diversity and inclusion are important company culture focus areas for businesses. It has become clearer that many candidates care about the environment they'll work in. As a result, companies who want to keep employees long-term will find a way to create diverse spaces to accommodate candidate needs. Diversity helps with the retention of employees too. As employees who care about DEI join your organization, they want to see you follow through with your promises.

2. Diversity in your management team improves innovation revenue

Every company wants to put out new and exciting products. BCG shared that companies with above-average diversity scores report that 45% of their income comes from innovation. On the other hand, companies with below-average diversity scores report that just 26% of their revenue comes from innovative sources. Innovation sets your organization apart from others in your niche. It's what makes your customers stay with you for the long haul. If you can increase innovation revenue by 19%, you'll likely create a new lane for your business.

3. Diverse teams make better decisions

We've all seen the impacts of a racially insensitive campaign. When companies put out products and commercials that don't consider diverse voices, they risk being boycotted or losing employees. According to data from Cloverpop, diverse teams do impact decision-making. By having a variety of voices making decisions, your organization can improve decision-making by 87%. Imagine what more diversity would do for organizations that connect with consumers.
According to data from Cloverpop, diverse teams do impact decision-making. By having a variety of voices making decisions, your organization can improve decision-making by 87%.

How and why your organization should build a DEI committee

If your organization is serious about DEI, you need to create a committee in charge of it. Committees can give leadership recommendations and ensure that the organization follows the DEI policies it puts in place. Work with HR leaders and managers to identify team members who value DEI and show leadership potential. Connect with those specific employees to define:
  • The purpose of the committee in your organization
  • How often meetings will be held
  • What topics the committee will cover
  • How issues are chosen for meetings
  • What a majority looks like (51% vs. unanimous decisions)
After you create the rules of engagement for the committee, DEI at your company will be in good hands.

3 tips to help you build a DEI committee

Next, let's go over a few strategies to help your DEI committee create lasting change in your organization.

1. Utilize a wide array of voices on your committee

When building a DEI committee, you should bring together a diverse team. For example, provide diversity in:
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Job Title
  • Veteran Status
  • Disability
The more groups you have represented in the committee, the better decisions your organization will be able to make. It may be challenging to get a wide array of people on board at first, especially if your organization lacks diversity currently. If your committee isn't as diverse as you'd like, consider bringing in external resources. For example, you can bring in an investor or a customer to help.

2. Give your DEI committee autonomy and funds

Next, you want to give your committee the autonomy and money they need to do their job. If you are always attending meetings or checking up on the committee, members won't be able to speak freely. Committee members need to be able to discuss things openly in order to make better decisions for your organization. Also, you may consider paying committee members for their work. Your diversity committee will be providing a lot of services for your organization. Even if it's a simple yearly stipend, compensating everyone for their time will make your committee feel appreciated.

3. Meet with your DEI committee regularly

Lastly, you'll want to regularly meet with your DEI committee to hear their recommendations and improvements. You shouldn't drop in unannounced. Instead, wait for your committee to invite you or set up a time to chat. When your committee comes to you with recommendations, listen. Is there a way you can implement these ideas at your company? You may need to negotiate and make concessions, but you should try to hear the committee out.

Creating a better workplace with a DEI committee

DEI is more than just a nice acronym to add to your career site. When organizations value diversity, equity, and inclusion, businesses change. You can expect increased candidates, income, and innovation by investing in DEI. Likewise, as organizations look for employee retention strategies, you might be able to excel with a DEI strategy. If you're ready to make the leap, start organizing a committee. Before you know it, your business may be booming.

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