Am I there just to tick a box? DEI and what it means for you.
So let's start with what DEI actually is - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In the past few years alone, businesses in all industries and of all sizes have made great efforts to improve the diversity of their teams... but is it due diligence or genuine progress?
Although used synonymously, diversity and inclusion are in leagues of their own – diversity is simply having a team of different ages, races, gender identity and so on, whereas inclusion looks like accommodating these groups; ensuring their cultural, religious, and socioeconomic needs are met fairly and without judgement.
Due to the 2010 Equality Act here in the U.K, we all know that companies have requirements to meet when it comes to Diversity and discrimination of such. But are we there to meet a diversity quota or there to make a real difference?
The fact of the matter is, DEI done right is more than ticking the right boxes and making sure policies are in place.
What does DEI done right look like?
It consists of three main factors: Revealing inequalities, Actively diversifying and Leading with progression.
- Revealing inequalities is a crucial part of setting up a productive and effective DEI Plan, as identifying the existing inequalities in your workplace will position you and your team for find the best solutions.
Does the company give all employees Christmas off without deducting annual leave, whilst deducting days off for other cultural holidays such as Eid?
Identifying these disparities in what may seem like ordinary workplace practices is a good way to alert you to a business that may be lacking in their DEI efforts.
- Actively diversifying means putting those policies into action!
Do they offer team events that are inclusive of everyone’s needs? Do they have access to private spaces for those who have remote therapy? These small, uncostly changes can make a huge difference to team morale and lead to massive increases in overall productivity and job satisfaction.
- Leading with progression
Diversity is what makes a team truly unique. Companies that lead and celebrate DEI will often attract other partners and customers with the same beliefs and values. It also sends a clear message to their employees that they matter.
Because what is a business without its employees?
So, if you’re preparing to start a new role and wanting to find out if the company and/or employer truly cares about diversity and creating an inclusive environment – here’s what you can do:
Check them out online
If you want to really find out what a company and its people do in regard to DEI, give their social media profiles a scan. Are their team pictures diverse? Are there any diversity statements/pledges on their website(s)?
LinkedIn is also a great place to have a pre-interview stalk. Not only will you get a feel for their ethos, but you can see what social issues the current employees are rallying behind, and what the company is passionate about changing in regards to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
You know when you reach the end of an interview, and you’re asked if you have any questions for the employer?
This is your chance.
Whether you ask about their policies they have in place, or even if their office culture is accessible to all – this will show you what efforts the company are making to really achieve inclusivity.
Does the company allow flexible working hours during Ramadan?
How is the company working towards improving their DEI?
Communicate with them
It can seem daunting to ask an employer what they can do to accommodate any religious/cultural requirements you may have, but it is important to know if they are ready and willing to not only accommodate, but to learn about and celebrate your diversity.
It also shows them that you know your stuff, and they are reminded that diversity is great, but it’s inclusion that truly matters.
That being said, not everyone wants to disclose their disabilities, mental health issues etc. from the very beginning of a working relationship, and that is completely valid.
Use our handy tips above and cast your own judgement on how much you’d like to disclose.
If you’d like to know more about how to prepare for your next interview, check out this blog on how to make yourself irresistible to employers here
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