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The benefits of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees in the workplace

June 11, 2024

Pride month is a time dedicated to the celebration and commemoration of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is an ideal time for employers to reflect on what they can do to foster a workplace that supports and protects those in the LGBTQIA+ community. A recent Glassdoor survey found that over half of LGBTQIA+ employees have disclosed experiencing or witnessing anti-LGBTQIA+ comments from coworkers. Furthermore, personal social media posts this month have shed light on the ongoing challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace, emphasising the need for employers to make further progress.

A valuable and increasingly popular way to provide support is to introduce a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative. Workplace DEI isn’t just a corporate checkbox; it involves taking concrete steps to create an environment where diversity is valued, individuals feel respected and included and there is fair treatment, access, and advancement opportunities for all.

A DEI committee establishes a dedicated space to foster diverse initiatives, enlighten colleagues about different minority causes, and devise strategic methods to guarantee the implementation of polices that promote accessibility, equity and inclusion. Moreover, it enables companies to showcase their dedication towards creating working environments which are safe for all.

The benefits of a solid DEI strategy are manifold.

Firstly, companies with DEI initiatives are found to attract top candidates. An increasing number of job seekers consider diversity and inclusion to be appealing or even an essential component when looking for an employer. A recent Deloitte survey found that 31% of people would decline a company if it did not align with their environmental or societal values. Crucially for employers, this figure rises to 47% among Generation Z. As this group increases its presence in the workforce, employers should give careful consideration to this point.

Secondly, DEI initiatives have a direct impact on employee engagement. Recent data demonstrates DEI initiatives in a workplace are found to lead to a 50% reduction in turnover risk, 75% decrease in sick days and 167% in net promoter score. For clarity, a net promoter score is a market research metric that is based on a single survey question asking respondents to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or a service.

Thirdly, and most importantly for some employers, DEI can help companies achieve their financial goals by increasing profits and reducing the costs associated with disengagement and turnover.

For a DEI committee to succeed in its aims and sustain momentum over time, it must have a stable membership of key stakeholders. When setting up a DEI committee, employers should:

  1. Identify possible DEI committee members. They should ensure to consider employee diversity from differing departments, hierarchy, backgrounds, social positions and age groups.
  2. Recruit volunteers. Workers who choose to join a committee will likely be more proactive in taking part and have a stronger interest in its outcomes than those who are obligated to take part.
  3. Create Organisational Buy-Ins. DEI efforts may be sustained when participation counts towards employees’ workplace accomplishments during employment reviews.
  4. Define clear and actionable goals. Once the committee’s purpose is established, they can define both short and long-term measurable goals to focus their efforts. After measuring diversity, equity and inclusion metrics, DEI leaders would be better equipped to make arguments for resource and policy changes.
  5. Establish processes to promote clear guidance and communication principles for the committee. This will allow the committee to weather any changes to its make-up and ensure that it will not fall apart if some key employees leave the business.

DEI committees can create real and important change to a workplace. This can include;

  • The improvement of workplace culture
  • Developing an inclusive working environment
  • Bringing together people with different experiences and backgrounds.
  • A meaningful change for marginalised communities within the workforce.
  • Better practices for recruiting, retaining, and promoting staff.

A recent study by McKinsey found that companies globally will spend $15.4 billion on DEI by 2026, more than double the $7.5 billion spent in 2020. In the near future, it may be just as important for a company to match its competitors’ DEI efforts as it is to match their level of pricing, innovation or customer service. Therefore, the time to introduce a DEI committee is now.

If you have any questions on this on any other area of Employment law, please get in touch with Blackadders Employment Team, working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and across Scotland.

The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.

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