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Beyond Awareness: Why We Should Keep Talking About DEI&B

Last week ended our Pride Month and Juneteenth Celebrations, but the conversations around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging should not have to wait until next June.

This episode covers why we should all care about DEI&B efforts in the workplace and in our communities, and tackles tangible ways we can crush our own biases. Join Lesa Caputo, Principal at OneDigital for some tips on how to reflect inwards, as well as some ways to stay involved throughout the year in celebrating our differences!

If you prefer to read this content, view the podcast transcript below.

As we come to the end of the month of June in the U.S., we are also ending Pride month, which is a month-long celebration of support for the LBGTQ+ community. You might have participated in Pride events, donated to charities, or had open discussions about the importance of breaking down barriers and stigmas in our communities.

Pride month is very important for highlighting and advocating for LBGTQ+ voices, culture and rights… but we cannot let our efforts be limited to the month of June.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging initiatives, also known as DEI&B initiatives, aim to recognize and celebrate ALL the various ways people show up and come together, which is more important than ever both in the workplace and outside of it. Diverse workforces are higher performing, as they benefit from the unique experiences and perspectives of their team, resulting in more creativity and innovation. Also, without inclusive, people-centered workplaces and communities, our wellbeing suffers because we cannot show up as our authentic selves.

That said, let’s get some clarity around the topic, and then we will identify a few strategies that we can take as individuals in our every day lives.

First, it is important to understand that, although often used together, the words diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have four different meanings.

Diversity is the actual makeup of people, including but not limited to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disabilities. Diversity is what makes everyone their own person. An example of diversity that has been highlighted during the pandemic has been if someone is a parent or caregiver and the challenges that that has presented for the last 2 years.

Equity is an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive, no matter their situation. Equity is different from equality; in that it considers the fact that everyone has different needs or disadvantages. Let me give you an illustration that can help. Let’s say you and I are trying to watch a baseball game but there is a fence in front of us, so we can’t see the game. Equality would be if we were both given the same stools to stand on, and now you can see the game perfectly. Problem solved, right? Not quite—you see, I am shorter than you, so I still can’t see over the fence. Equity would be if you were given a stool, and I was given a step ladder. So even though we were given something different as a resource, we are both now able to enjoy the baseball game. Equity is better than equality in the sense that it provides the RIGHT tools for people to be successful instead of the SAME tools.

Inclusion is how these ideas are integrated through behaviors and social norms. An inclusive environment trys to make everyone feel welcomed, and diverse groups are treated with dignity and respect. The way we get to an inclusive workplace is through providing equitable resources to all people.

Lastly, Belonging, is the way people actually feel. Belonging is achieved in a group once everyone has the right tools to be successful, they are included in the conversation and welcomed to join in, and feel like they can be themselves.

Now that we know the differences between these terms, lets get into how we actually practice equity and inclusion in our day-to-day so that everyone can experience a sense of belonging…

We can start by investigating our unconscious biases. Bias is simply our thoughts and feelings towards an idea or person that are not necessarily founded in fact. These are often assumptions we have towards people, and we all have them, whether we know it or not. In fact, our brains actually encourage bias… from infancy we are wired to categorize and classify objects and individuals to make sense of the world around us. This allows us to process an incredible amount of information, very quickly, but it can also lead to quick, biased judgments.

To find out what your biases are, ask yourself a few questions: Are you acting a consistent way to everyone you interact with? If not, really dig in and understand why this may be the case. Try to notice as many patterns as you can. Once you have identified your unconscious biases, you can then work to combat them by stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging in conversations with individuals that are different from you. This will not only help you learn more about them, and be better colleagues and neighbors, but can truly begin to eliminate any biases you may have.

Now, just like anything in life, to be good at something you need to practice it consistently. Remind yourself to continue breaking down barriers and engaging with different people, so that you can strengthen your relationships with co-workers and combat your biases. In the long run, this will make your workplace more inclusive, and all people will feel like they belong.

Research has shown that embracing Diversity and eliminating bias has so many benefits at work--increased productivity, a rise in creativity, more innovation, faster problem solving, and better decision making. No wonder this is a major focus for companies across the world!

If you want to continue breaking down biases and promote DEI&B in your company, ask HR about getting involved or starting a DEI&B committee! There are also a ton of ways to be a champion in your community, whether it be through volunteering at local non-profits, attending events that promote diverse cultures and groups, or even making an effort to talk to others on how to identify and eliminate their own biases.

So while DEI & B efforts are often an emphasis for many organizations in the month of June, I encourage you to work towards making it a top priority year-round… and encourage your organizations to do the same!

Tune in to additional episodes of One'Digital's Byte-Sized Benefits podcast.