Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Group of multicultural men and women going over notes from organizational training

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When Americans hear the term “DE&I,” they often think of initiatives like affirmative action, “wokeness,” and even discrimination against large swaths of the population. That’s completely inaccurate. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become hot-button issues lately because corporations are ramping up their efforts (and spending) on inclusivity while politicians are weaponizing the core of what it stands for. 

Inclusivity, diversity, and equity should be the minimum, not the shiny new object. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs at large corporations in the United States aim to foster a more inclusive work environment that values and respects individuals from diverse backgrounds. Having different perspectives, experiences, and insights from your workforce is precisely what makes it profitable, forward-thinking, and innovative. Fearing that contribution from people who don’t look like you is like fearing air – it’s everywhere, you need it to survive, and even though it comes in different forms (a spring breeze isn’t the same as a hurricane, for example), doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. 

While specific programs can vary across organizations, here are some common components and initiatives found in DEI programs:

1.    Diversity Recruitment and Hiring: Companies implement strategies to attract diverse talent by actively sourcing candidates from underrepresented groups. They may partner with organizations, attend job fairs focused on diversity, or use targeted advertising campaigns to reach a broader range of candidates. Hiring managers that speak candidates' language, for example, gives prospective employees peace of mind knowing they work with people who appreciate their unique contribution. 

2.    Training and Education: DEI programs often include training sessions and workshops to raise awareness, educate employees about unconscious biases, and promote inclusive behaviors. These training programs may cover cultural competence, gender equality, disability awareness, and LGBTQ+ inclusion. Language and culture training that educates your workforce on interacting with people from different backgrounds should be standard upskilling for global corporations. 

3.    Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): ERGs are employee-led affinity groups that provide a platform for individuals with shared identities or interests to connect, support each other, and advocate for their communities within the organization. ERGs can focus on various aspects of diversity, such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, and more. Fostering cultural inclusivity through ERGs means giving a voice to underrepresented cultural groups needing more confidence to speak up at work. 

4.    Policy Review and Implementation: Companies assess their policies and practices to identify and eliminate systemic barriers and biases that may hinder the progress of underrepresented groups. This can involve reviewing hiring practices, promotion criteria, and compensation structures and implementing policies that promote fairness and equality. For example, language and culture training tied to specific business outcomes should be part of every onboarding and training policy. 

5.    Employee Engagement and Surveys: Regular employee engagement surveys and feedback mechanisms allow employees to express their concerns, suggestions, and experiences related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. These surveys help organizations measure progress, identify areas for improvement, and shape their DEI initiatives accordingly. If a hiring manager or business leader can’t speak to prospects or candidates, HR and the C-Suite should recognize the need for language training and implement lessons based on feedback from their workforce. 

6.    Supplier Diversity: Some corporations focus on increasing diversity and inclusion in their supply chains by actively seeking diverse-owned businesses and suppliers. They may establish supplier diversity programs to ensure that a fair share of their spending goes to companies owned by minorities, women, veterans, or other underrepresented groups. An immigrant founded Global LT, and we're currently minority-owned. We put our money where our mouth is. 

The key objective is to create a workplace culture that values and respects individuals from all backgrounds, fosters equality of opportunity, and promotes a sense of belonging for all employees. Employees who feel heard, seen, and appreciated are more likely to continue working in their current roles. Employees that think their organization doesn’t care about their cultural background, diversity, and how it relates to their day-to-day jobs risk losing revenue and profitability. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Global LT can transform DE&I in your workplace – not in a scary way, not in a way that checks a box – in a way that empowers your workforce to feel engaged and connected, we’d love to show you how. Language training goes well beyond memorizing vocabulary and conjugating verbs. 

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