Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) have become buzzwords in the corporate world, with businesses rushing to adopt DE&I policies to appear progressive and inclusive.
However, many DE&I experts are now calling out these efforts as mere “box-ticking” exercises that lack substance and fail to address the fundamental issues. Tackling tokenistic attempts at DE&I and understanding how to achieve true and sustained equity in the workplace is essential to creating better workplaces for all. Let’s take a look at what real diversity and inclusion work should entail.
Token Efforts Fall Short
All too often, the main struggle with meaningful DE&I is the prevalence of tokenistic efforts that may boost a company’s image; but achieve little else, certainly failing to effect genuine change. As consumers and clients alike become increasingly savvy to hollow illusions of progress, gaining a bad reputation from disingenuous diversity and inclusion efforts is becoming an increasing threat.
While efforts such as hosting DE&I-focused events or specific recruitment drives based on gender, ethnicity, or other protected demographics, may still receive some positive attention, they generally fail to address the root causes of inequality and discrimination within organisations and fail to advance workplace equity. True diversity is about valuing and promoting individuals for their skills, experiences, and abilities, regardless of their background, whilst ensuring a holistic working culture that recognises the need for equity in all areas to ensure equal access for all.
Real DE&I Work: A Continuous Journey Towards Equity
Genuine DE&I work extends far beyond hosting occasional events or implementing policies to meet quotas. It requires an ongoing commitment to monitoring and improving the workplace culture, eradicating bias, and addressing systemic inequalities.
One key aspect of real DE&I work is creating an inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and heard. This means actively seeking feedback from underrepresented groups, listening to their experiences, and taking concrete actions to address their concerns. It involves providing training and resources to employees and leaders to foster a more inclusive atmosphere and equipping everyone with the tools to recognize and challenge bias.
Towards Positive Change
To effect real change and equity and foster a truly inclusive workplace, businesses must commit to ongoing efforts that go beyond the surface level. This means recognising the inherent biases and systemic issues that exist, actively addressing them, and continuously monitoring progress. Real DE&I work is about creating a culture where diversity is celebrated, equity is non-negotiable, and inclusion is the standard.