DEI or “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” initiatives are crucial to creating an inclusive workplace where the culture is up-to-date and employees feel comfortable.
Below, we cover the ins and outs of DEI, including six ways you can help push your culture to the next level. In addition, our 2023 DEI Survey will give you a firsthand look at how other businesses like yours are currently using DEI to better themselves, their employees, and their bottom line.
What Does DEI in the Workplace Mean?
The term DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. But what does this really mean?
DEI is any action or procedure set in place to make everyone in a workplace feel safe, involved, and supported, no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or any other defining factor.
Below is a breakdown of what these DEI pillars entail when it comes to the modern workplace:
To achieve a diverse workplace, every level of your business must be made up of people who are different from one another. From different genders and ages to contrasting backgrounds and experiences, diversity can be represented in a myriad of ways. A few ways to create a more diverse environment include implementing a blind hiring program and setting aside a certain percentage of new hires specifically for minority candidates.
To implement equity correctly, you must understand the difference between equity and equality. Equality means giving everyone equal opportunities and support. Equity, however, takes things a step further by considering everyone’s differences. When practicing equity, businesses give varying levels of resources to their employees based on their differences to ensure everyone is on a level playing field.
For example, if you have an employee with mental health or developmental issues, giving them additional resources to help them thrive would help create a more equitable workplace.
The “I” portion of DEI stands for inclusion, which is the process of making your workplace an inclusive environment. To achieve inclusion, all employees must feel safe when expressing their opinions and be reassured that their unique perspectives are valued.
Inclusion can be fostered by opening up lines of communication from upper-level management down to associate levels and having HR regularly train employees on how to implement a kind and caring culture.
Benefits of a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Business
While DEI is certainly trending across industries, that doesn’t mean it's a passing fad. Focusing on DEI in your workplace can lead to a host of benefits, from happier and more productive employees to better decision-making by small business owners. Not to mention it can actually help your business’s bottom line as well.
Improved talent pool, with 76% of job seekers claiming a diverse workforce is a deciding factor when evaluating job offers
DEI Statistics + the Future of Work
We surveyed our Incfile customers to ask them how they’re approaching DEI in their own companies and further understand small business diversity. While the results are positive and show that business owners are making great strides in embracing DEI, our survey also uncovered several opportunities for improvement.
Big Picture: How Is DEI Currently Implemented?
The good news? DEI is already a priority for most entrepreneurs. Here’s more insight into the state of DEI in small business, according to those we surveyed:
56.8% of respondents consider their businesses very ethically and culturally diverse.
79% consistently train and engage their employees on DEI.
15% started investing in DEI during the pandemic.
94% of DEI initiatives are handled by the business owners themselves, while 4% are handled by operations teams, and 2% are handled by HR.
74% offer family leave, no matter the gender of the employee.
8% reserve 15%-30% of open roles for diverse candidates.
54% reported that diversity is a key tenant of their organization.
Minorities + Small Businesses
In addition to focusing on DEI as a whole, the small business owners we surveyed are also making efforts to put minorities front and center:
55% of small business owners we surveyed are first or second-generation immigrants:
33% are first generation.
22% are second generation.
37% employ more than 70% minorities.
14% said their workforce is 30%-50% minorities
11% reported that they employ 50%-70% minorities.
44% said that over 30% of their leadership roles are held by minorities.
Roadblocks for Implementing DEI Pillars
Our survey found that there are still several sticking points that are preventing entrepreneurs from creating a more diverse culture:
46% still face discrimination in their small business community.
18% don’t understand how DEI impacts businesses.
17% don’t know where to begin when it comes to implementing DEI initiatives.
14% have never talked about race, disability, or injustice with their teams.
DEI Growth Moving Forward
The COVID pandemic spurred many companies into implementing more DEI initiatives, and the trend of diversity and inclusion isn't slowing down any time soon. Below is a quick look at how our survey respondents plan to keep DEI initiatives alive:
8% welcome DEI conversations in the future, even though they haven’t had many conversations about diversity in the past.
90% are making (or planning to make) efforts to boost their workplace diversity.
87% will invest in DEI initiatives for their business in 2023.
DEI Common Questions
Interested in learning more about DEI pillars and best practices? We’ve got answers to the most commonly asked questions below:
What Are the 7 Pillars of Inclusion?
The seven pillars of inclusion are access, attitude, choice, partnerships, communication, policy, and opportunities. Originally created for educational purposes, these pillars also provide a framework for businesses to understand what it means to create a truly inclusive environment.
How Do You Engage Employees in DEI?
You can engage employees in DEI initiatives by getting them involved early on. Create a committee that works on developing these initiatives. Sign up your employees for a training or mentorship program. Employees who are active participants in DEI practices can help improve the culture of your business at a faster rate.
What Are Some DEI Activities?
DEI activities that you can implement in your workplace include creating a diverse holiday calendar, themed happy hours, cultural events, show and tell, discussion groups, and eye-opening games such as the “privilege walk,” where employees are separated out by their privileges to gain a better understanding of the differences in upbringings across the company.
From expanding your hiring pool to creating a more collaborative and welcoming culture, there are plenty of ways small businesses of all types can integrate DEI into the workplace.
Do you have aspirations of a more inclusive culture but don’t have the time to get started with all your other to-dos? Let us take some administrative tasks — like managing your business entity — off your plate so you can focus on what really matters.
Sarah is a copywriter and brand strategist who has helped companies of all sizes reach their audience with targeted content. Outside of her marketing work, Sarah is passionate about creative writing, yoga and hiking with her dog, Otis.