Watch for Pitfalls in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts

One of the qualities of a great workplace includes a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It boosts employee trust and commitment, directly impacting recruitment and retention. Organizations that promote DEI efforts also drive innovation and gain a competitive edge.

Smart organizations recognize the value of a diverse workforce rich in social and ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs. But none of that is beneficial if individuals do not feel included or valued.


Inclusion ensures that all employees are included, supported, and are encouraged to contribute. It requires companies to look critically at how opportunities and resources are utilized, adopt an impartial work ethic, and be aware when employees need support.

Everyone in any organization should understand the benefits of a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce. When you have a diverse workforce, you also gain the advantage of diverse perspectives and viewpoints. It can be beneficial to driving your organization toward better products and services – and ultimately, better business outcomes. Additional benefits of diversity in the workplace include:

Higher revenue and better customer service: When employees believe they play an essential role and are valued, they are more invested and productive in their work. Plus, diversity offers wider skill sets and the ability to attract and satisfy many different types of customers. More diverse skills lead to higher and wider customer satisfaction rates.

Innovative breakthroughs: Different perspectives challenge and advance company direction, which is especially important in a hyper-competitive market. Having employees with different perspectives and skill sets helps companies stay creative and competitive.

More effective recruitment efforts: Companies that focus on diversity efforts offer individuals the opportunity to thrive and grow. It also helps companies to stand out in a crowded market and get the attention of prospective talent. When companies actively seek diversity, they gain access to a broader talent pool, full of different backgrounds, perspectives, and skills.

Higher levels of employee engagement: Diversity in the workplace improves employee engagement. Individuals who feel valued and included are more to give their best effort and refer others to the company. Diversity, equity, and inclusion help create a workplace culture where employees are empowered and respected. When employees feel that sense of self-value, they are more likely to be connected, motivated, and satisfied in their role.

Increased employee retention: Employees are more likely to be loyal and committed to a company that makes them feel genuinely included and supported. Having diverse perspectives in the workplace encourages individuals to grow and develop new skills of their own. When companies encourage this growth, it boosts retention and new employee recruitment.

While your organization may understand the value of DEI, it requires more than the occasional HR meeting. Assumptions can hold back your organization when it comes to effectively promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here are three common pitfalls in DEI efforts:

Assumption: The company hosts a regular cadence of programs focused on DEI topics to show they care about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

  • Problem: While regular meetings are an excellent first step, focusing on attendance numbers and filling a calendar won’t change behavior.
  • Solution: Think outside the box to find ways that encourage change. Consider ideas such as mentorship programs.

Assumption: Your organization focuses on one objective (promoting women, for example) for leadership roles.

  • Problem: Considering only one underrepresented group for leadership roles is an exclusive approach.
  • Solution: Ensure all types of underrepresented groups are included for a more inclusive talent search.

Assumption: Your organization has effective policies and procedures.

  • Problem: Leadership fails to consider how company policies may impact DEI efforts and neglect employee needs.
  • Solution: Establish a team to examine company procedures and policies to ensure proper support of DEI efforts.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.

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