Workplace

Why EDI is important to companies and how to drive lasting change

Jun 3, 2021
·
6
min read

Summer 2020 sparked important conversations about social injustice and racial bias, leading many to call upon institutions and companies to do their part in driving meaningful action.

But as conversations leave the mainstream, it’s essential that industry leaders keep dialogue surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion at the forefront of their strategy to foster lasting change. An important part of this process is ensuring your company has a mutual understanding of what equity, diversity and inclusion means to you and your team.

What does Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion mean?

Here’s how we define it at Humi:

Equity

Equity refers to achieving parity in policy, process, treatment and outcomes for underrepresented and marginalized people and groups while accounting for differences. It considers power, privilege, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts, and outcomes, in several areas including:

  • Representational equity: proportional and meaningful participation at all levels of an institution;
  • Resource equity: the distribution of resources that help reduce inequitable gaps for people and groups; and
  • Equity-mindedness: an active state of awareness, and willingness to address equity issues.

Diversity

Differences in the lived experiences and perspectives, and reality of people that may include race, ethnicity, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical disability, mental disability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, class, and/or socio-economic situations.

Inclusion

Inclusion is an active, intentional, and continuous process to address inequities in power and privilege, and build a respectful community that ensures all diverse people and groups feel valued, respected and welcomed.

Workplace diversity does NOT equal workplace inclusion

In an ideal world, equity, diversity and inclusion would work together to create a successful, welcoming culture at every company. Part of the problem is that “diversity” and “inclusion” are so often lumped together that they’re assumed to be interchangeable. It’s easy to measure diversity – but without doing the work to create a strong sense of connection and belonging, true, meaningful change isn’t possible. 

Why it matters

Innovation stems from the ability to utilize different perspectives in approaching and finding solutions. Without a diverse team (i.e. diverse skills, cultural backgrounds, and life experiences), it’s possible that your company will lack those fresh perspectives that drive creativity and innovation. 

Many folks don’t see diversity as having an impact on their revenue or bottom line, but it has proven it does. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with diverse management have 19% higher revenue – meaning diversity isn’t just something to strive for, it’s an integral part of your business’ success. 

Five ways to improve your company culture

Building a company culture where everyone feels included is a significant investment of time and ongoing effort. This means taking a holistic approach to ensure you have the right building blocks for your initiatives to take root. To get you started, here are five ways to improve EDI in your workplace right now: 

Create a safe space for feedback

There isn’t a point to doing the work without checking in with those directly impacted by your efforts, so ask. How can we build trust? Are there any barriers to our EDI implementation? How is it being supported?

Prioritizing trust in the workplace means building a culture of psychological safety and honesty, where your team will feel comfortable asking questions, and expressing their thoughts and ideas. A large part of this is ensuring you create a safe and comfortable space for feedback. Whether this be via employee check ins or anonymous surveys, work with your employees to figure out how to facilitate an honest dialogue.

Avoid tokenism

While it’s essential that all voices are heard and included in improving EDI in your workplace, it isn’t up to your diverse employees to be singled out and do the work for you. Even with the best intentions, this can lead to the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. Ensure you’re providing a safe space for everyone to be heard.

Turn on pronouns 

Being mindful of the language you use is key in creating an environment where everyone on your team feels respected, safe and included. Acknowledging and encouraging the use of pronouns is just one small step in confronting the implications of words and behaviours that have long gone unchallenged. 

Mistaking a coworker’s pronouns may be a great source of stress and discomfort, which can make them feel isolated from the rest of the team. Adding pronouns on internal communications like Slack and email signatures, as well as asking and acknowledging people’s pronouns in first meetings can have a significant impact. And if you’re a Humi user, you have the option to add pronouns and gender to your Humi profile.

Acknowledge and accommodate for diverse holidays

Certain holidays receive more attention than others in the workplace and in Canada. While encouraging your workers to practice their culture and traditions within your company is an essential aspect of belonging, it’s just as important to accommodate for non-dominant holidays, observances, and celebrations. Feminuity has created an incredible guide for Canadian workplaces.

Seek out guidance

Without the right tools and training, an effective EDI strategy will fall flat. Your HR representatives should be able to offer sound advice, but it’s possible they don’t hold all the answers. 

A great starting point is seeking out external consulting and/or training partnerships that can work with you and your team to streamline fruitful change. At Humi, we’re proud to work with Entelechy Consulting, where we’re working toward building the foundation for an effective EDI strategy within our own workplace. 

HR’s role 

EDI could technically be prioritized anywhere at the top of the organization because it intersects so many boundaries. HR's role though, is crucial in ensuring that equity, diversity, and inclusion are delivered and that developing and driving a solid strategy is an ongoing commitment.

We recommend having an EDI champion spearhead your strategy, but in order to accomplish that ideal culture, one function shouldn’t own it. Rather, along with leveraging the guidance of the EDI leader, senior leadership and HR should work together to ensure your EDI strategy guides everything your business does. It’s when EDI becomes embedded in your culture that a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace is created and felt. 

Commit to continued learning

Once you develop a shared understanding of what EDI means for you and your team, you’ll have the footing to start building your strategy. However, it isn’t enough to implement and assume you’ve done the work. To truly create an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace, you must be willing to continue learning, evolving, and adjusting along your journey. 

Learn more with Humi

To learn more about why an EDI strategy is good for you and good for business, watch our recent webinar, Workplace equity, diversity, and inclusion. Where do I get started?

Dive into more EDI content right here:

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Hey there 👋 my name is Andrea Bartlett.

I’m the Director of HR at Humi, and I’m obsessed with all things people and human resources. Throughout my time working in a range of industries, I’ve learned that one thing is clear: the world of work is changing and HR professionals are leading the charge. 

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