Beyond Compliance: The Importance of DEI in the Workplace
In today's business environment, companies are increasingly aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. While employment equity legislation exists to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and have equal opportunities for employment and advancement, research studies show that simply complying with these laws is not enough. Companies need to go beyond compliance and actively work to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Why Compliance is Not Enough
Employment equity legislation is a necessary first step in creating a fair and equal workplace. However, research studies show that compliance with these laws does not necessarily result in a truly inclusive workplace. A study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that although most companies have diversity and inclusion policies, only 28% of employees say that they work in an inclusive culture. Compliance is often viewed as a box-ticking exercise that focuses on meeting minimum requirements rather than addressing the underlying issues that contribute to inequality and lack of diversity.
In addition, research studies show that simply complying with employment equity legislation may not be enough to attract and retain top talent. A study by Deloitte found that 80% of millennials consider a company's approach to diversity, inclusion, and gender equality when deciding where to work. They want to work for companies that value diversity and inclusion and actively work to create a welcoming and inclusive environment.
The Benefits of Going Beyond Compliance
There are many benefits to going beyond compliance and actively working to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. These benefits include:
Improved Employee Morale and Productivity: Employees who feel valued and included are more likely to be motivated and productive. A study by Glassdoor found that employees who rate their company's culture as highly inclusive are more likely to be satisfied with their job and their employer.
Enhanced Innovation and Creativity: A diverse workforce brings together different perspectives and ideas, which can lead to greater innovation and creativity. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.
Better Reputation and Brand Image: Companies that are known for their commitment to diversity and inclusion are often seen as more attractive to customers, investors, and potential employees. A study by Weber Shandwick found that 46% of consumers will take action against a company that does not support their values, including diversity and inclusion.
Improved Compliance: Companies that go beyond compliance and actively work to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace are often better able to comply with employment equity legislation. A study by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion found that companies with strong diversity and inclusion programs are more likely to meet or exceed their employment equity targets.
How Companies Can Go Beyond Compliance
Going beyond compliance requires a commitment from the top down. Company leaders need to prioritize diversity and inclusion and make it a core part of the company's culture and values. Some steps that companies can take to go beyond compliance include:
Conducting Diversity and Inclusion Training: Companies can provide training to all employees to help them better understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that diversity and inclusion training can help to reduce bias and increase understanding.
Establishing Diversity and Inclusion Goals: Companies can set specific goals for increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and measure their progress against these goals. A study by Catalyst found that companies with diversity and inclusion goals are more likely to have diverse representation in leadership positions.
Creating Diversity and Inclusion Committees: Companies can establish committees or task forces to focus specifically on diversity and inclusion initiatives. A study by the Diversity Best Practices found that companies with diversity and inclusion committees are more likely to have effective diversity and inclusion programs.
Reviewing Hiring Practices: Companies can review their hiring practices to ensure that they are attracting and hiring a diverse pool of candidates. A study by Harvard Business Review found that companies that use blind hiring practices are more likely to hire diverse candidates.
Providing Equal Opportunities for Advancement: Companies can ensure that all employees have equal opportunities for advancement and are not held back by bias or discrimination. A study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that gender pay gaps persist in part because of bias and discrimination in promotions and other opportunities for advancement.
While compliance with employment equity legislation is important, it is not enough to create a truly inclusive workplace. Companies that want to attract and retain top talent, improve productivity and innovation, and enhance their reputation and brand image need to go beyond compliance and actively work to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. This requires a commitment from the top down and the implementation of specific initiatives and programs to promote diversity and inclusion.
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Deloitte. (2018). “The Rise of the Social Enterprise.”
Glassdoor. (2019). “Why Is Diversity and Inclusion Important in the Workplace?”
McKinsey & Company. (2018). “Delivering Through Diversity.”
Weber Shandwick. (2018). “The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.”
Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. (2018). “The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion.”
Society for Human Resource Management. (2018). “Diversity and Inclusion Training.”
Catalyst. (2018). “Catalyst CEO Champions for Change.”
Diversity Best Practices. (2019). “Diversity Councils.”
Harvard Business Review. (2016). “Why Diversity Programs Fail.”
Institute for Women's Policy Research. (2021). “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation.”