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Understanding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

By: Erich TollDiversity Insights
Multicultural colleagues united

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have become critical elements in today’s workplaces. As organizations strive to create more inclusive environments, understanding the significance of these concepts is essential.

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What is Diversity?

Diversity is a simple term that carries a lot of weight and history. Generally defined, diversity refers to the practice of involving people with different backgrounds or identities, such as race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability. A diverse workplace welcomes people with a variety of identities and a variety of backgrounds.

Why do we need Equity and Inclusion too?

While diversity has been commonly used as a catchall phrase, it doesn’t fully capture the complete picture. Often, addressing diversity issues was done only superficially, with quotas, surface level requirements, and other performative gestures that don’t fully bring everyone to the table. Equity and Inclusion are separate but related concepts which deepen and broaden the practices of diversity. These three components, often abbreviated as DEI, work together to create a more inclusive environment.

What is Equity?

Equity has gained prominence as a key word in recent years alongside diversity. Equity refers to equal opportunity, access and treatment for everyone, regardless of background and identity. In practice, equity also refers to actions taken to identity and remove systemic obstacles faced by certain groups, such as providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. An equitable workplace recognizes variety and doesn’t impose one-size-fits-all systems that benefit one group above others.

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion, like equity, has become an important word in recent years. The concept involves actively bringing people to the table, welcoming a variety of voices, and encouraging collaboration. An inclusive workplace actively fosters understanding of and engagement with everybody.

What about Belonging?

Recently, the term Belonging is also gaining traction in DEI conversations. You can build a diverse team, treat them fairly, and include them in decisions, yet people may still feel isolated or excluded – an issue which Covid has shined a bright light on. Fostering Belonging involves synthesizing all the concepts introduced above, and finding where DEI meets engagement, passion and community. Belonging is a state of involvement where all members feel valued, appreciated, respected, and they are at “home” with their colleagues.

Adverse times can often catalyze great changes for the better, and the ongoing conversations about the workplace in the wake of the pandemic are exactly one of those times. Efforts to foster Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are not only supported by a strong moral case but also a strong business case. Many firms and organizations now have roles dedicated to the DEI movement as they realize the benefits of diversity. Managers and leaders who implement DEI and put belonging at the center of the culture are not only doing something ethical, but doing something that builds a strong organization.

Ready to enhance diversity and inclusion in your workplace? Explore our comprehensive Online Diversity and Inclusion Training tailored to empower your team.

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