How Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Impact the Workforce
Updated: Jan 31
In recent years, there has been a nationwide push to tackle Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) measures within the workforce. Most recently, Accessibility (DEIA) has been added as a valuable factor in including a historically neglected group of people who are fully capable and willing to work.
Regardless of the industry, DEIA aims to deliver an effective working environment that every individual can thrive in regardless of gender, background, sexual orientation, or physical ability. More importantly, DEIA aggressively fights against workplace discrimination, an issue that has especially affected people of color and women over the past century.
Each organization is responsible for defining and educating their employees on what DEIA means to their organization, but the following explanations are broadly accepted definitions that can help shape a general understanding of what DEIA represents and why these policies are necessary for the modern workplace.
What is Diversity?
In the simplest of terms, Diversity is what makes every person unique. Within the workplace, Diversity is referred to as the general difference between groups and people. Each individual brings attributes into the workplace, diversifying companies and thereby creating similarities and differences based on thought and life experiences.
The United States Office of Personnel Management has defined Diversity as national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures. All people are different with varying experiences and backgrounds, thus creating a melting pot of talent that is extremely valuable to the nation’s workforce.
Although there are laws are in place to help promote Diversity within the workforce, employers are responsible for incorporating Diversity into their everyday organizational practices. Research proves that Diversity is an undeniable factor in organizational success that helps companies stay current and competitive in the fast-paced labor market. While Diversity is recognized as a vital factor in successful organizations, many companies still need outside assistance to help ensure that Diversity goals are not only met, but also maintained.
What is Equity?
The Federal Register of the United States Government defines Equity as “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”
Equity is a key part of Diversity initiatives, as it emphasizes inclusive measures to ensure that employees are valued and empowered. While equality and equity often get confused, equality focuses on giving individuals the same access to resources and opportunities while equity recognizes individuals have varying circumstances and require support to achieve equal standing within their department. When equity is successfully incorporated into the workplace, employees feel as though they belong and are respected, valued, and empowered.
What is Inclusion?
Inclusion is defined as “a culture that connects each employee to the organization; encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness; and leverages diversity throughout the organization so that all individuals are able to participate and contribute to their full potential.”
The successful implementation of inclusion in the workplace emphasizes value and respect for each employee, regardless of their gender and background, and makes each employee feel like they belong within an organization. Each individual requires various needs to reach their full potential on the job. These needs should include things like flexibility, childcare, educational growth opportunities, and more.
The process of creating an inclusive environment recognizes and appreciates individual needs, employee skills, talents, and background experiences and uses those strengths to grow and achieve company objectives.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility, also sometimes referred to as access, refers to creating an accessible workplace that accommodates and includes people of all abilities. Workplace environments that embrace accessibility are committed to hiring people with disabilities—visible and non-visible—and reap the benefits of having increased productivity due to a well-rounded pool of employees.
Creating accessibility in the workplace acknowledges physical space, individual learning capabilities, flexible working factors, and inclusive company policies.
While there are plenty of laws in place to help protect against biased discrimination, unbiased workplace practices halt the progression of DEIA measures. Many companies have begun to undertake the challenge of incorporating DEIA into the workplace, but it is not an overnight process.
Achieving an environment that truly reflects an all-inclusive workplace takes strategic planning, sensitivity, and time. Here are 3 action steps for incorporating DEIA into your workplace.
DEIA Audit: The only way to get an unbiased overview of where your company is with diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, is to conduct an audit of your workplace. It’s best practice to hire a third-party company like Intelligent Partnerships, Inc. to conduct an in-depth audit to identify company strengths and areas that have a valuable opportunity for growth.
Unbiased Hiring Practices: DEIA discrimination often begins with the hiring process. Factors such as gender, names, and race cause unintentional harm to candidates. Removing names from applications can help solve this problem. There are application companies that assist with this process to ensure fair hiring practices.
Inclusion Demonstration: Demonstrating inclusion begins at the top. It is important for companies to not only demonstrate but to be transparent about their inclusion policies with the entire company. Ensuring that leaders are actively engaged in modeling the behavior and practices related to inclusion will go a long way in transitioning organizational culture and practices.
DEIA Training: Employees should be updated frequently with company DEIA policies and training. While talking about the importance of diversity in the workplace is valuable, specific measures need to be demonstrated and communicated frequently to all employees.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are vital factors in an effective workplace environment. When companies incorporate these measures, employees feel valued, included, and committed to their job.
DEIA Free Resources
Here at Intelligent Partnerships, we are committed to helping businesses—big and small—succeed in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility measures. Our team has put together a wealth of free resource materials to help your company get a better understanding of the importance DEIA practices hold within the workplace, as well as other valuable strategic initiatives to help your company. We invite you to check out our free tool to help you get started: Where Do We Start with Our Diversity Engagement Strategy?