Shifting from Diversity and Inclusion to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Diversity

One HR concept that we know will remain a focus for organizations in the years to come is diversity and inclusion. It is imperative that along with these two concepts we acknowledge and address equity as well. The truth is, without equity, focusing on diversity and inclusion will not be as effective, and will not suffice.

Over the past few years, and especially throughout 2020, the focus on diversity in the workforce has been brought to the forefront. Diversity, which involves increasing representation of people from various backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, is only part of the equation. Inclusion, which involves making space and amplifying the voices of everyone in the workplace, is another; and equity, which involves doing so in a fair and impartial way, is the glue that ties it all together. A focus on diversity and inclusion is a step in the right direction but bringing it all together by teaching, encouraging, and promoting equity is what will ensure your organization is effectively staying on the right track, and cultivating the most positive and successful work environment possible.

Forward-thinking organizations recognize the importance in this third part of the equation and are focusing on the idea of equity as part of their overall business and people strategies. A few examples: equity in the workplace can be manifested in a range of ways such as unpacking decision points that lead to pay inequity, exploring equity in talent development investments and leveraging initiatives as a driver to address equity succession planning.

As businesses are being called to function with a deeper level of transparency regarding compensation reporting, board representation, harassment reporting, advancement and other people/workforce management practices, the focus on equity in the workplace has become more magnified than ever.

With all that we were asked to deal with in 2020, neither customers nor employees want vague platitudes about change; they want to see companies truly committing to action within their own organization. Achieving equity in the workplace will be one of the most important issues that companies will need to address in the coming decade. What organizations have realized is that instead of trying to change some people to fit our organizations, we must focus on transforming our organizations to fit all people. This is what equity refers to, after all. 

Often, company culture is the problem, and this is where the change needs to start. To make this happen, organizational culture must prioritize humanity. Only then will companies be able to recruit and retain the thriving, diverse workforce that leaders and customers want and need, in the next decade, and beyond.

Understanding history, addressing personal biases, building empathy and respect for others, getting comfortable with vulnerability are skills that require training and ongoing practice. This is dedicated, individual work that must be modeled from the top, but this is also what is required to achieve true equity in the workplace. To get there from here, conflict is sometimes required for true transformation to occur (and be sustained). 

Oftentimes, conflict is change trying to happen. Yet most workplaces go to great lengths to avoid conflict of any type. These are antiquated, outdated thought processes and have no business (pardon the pun) in today’s business world.  The cultures we seek to create in our organizations cannot ignore conflict or direct blame or anger towards those who are pushing for needed transformation. The work involved in building and maintaining an inclusive, equitable culture in an organization is never ‘done’.  We must constantly strive to do better.

“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.” ~Sundar Pichai

Is your business having difficulty achieving an inclusive workforce? Struggling with your organizations work culture? Failing to attract diverse applicants? Call 416.788.8069 or email us at [email protected] to find out how TSERGAS Human Capital can help modernize your workforce through diversity and inclusion, keeping your employees happier and engaged while lowering turnover and conflict.

Effie Tsergas

Founding Principal, Managing HR Director

Effie has been a champion of positive organizational behavior for over thirty years. She founded TSERGAS Human Capital over 10 years ago. Aside from her “effervescent” personality and unwavering commitment to HR best practices, Effie is well-known for her work with some of the top legal firms in Canada. She assists clients across various industries with everything from targeted, direct recruitment, strategic human resources planning; and change management initiatives. With a wealth of experience in human resources, workplace investigations, law, public relations, and marketing communications, Effie is a seasoned strategist with expertise you can bank on.