Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Key Differentiator For Enhanced Employee Experience

Employees with diverse backgrounds still face biases, discrimination, and similar forms of disadvantages every day.


DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. Equity is the process of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial, fair and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual. Inclusion is the practice of ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging in the workplace. Diversity is about variety in representation; inclusion is about engagement.

Employees with diverse backgrounds still face biases, discrimination, and similar forms of disadvantages every day. McKinsey in one of their research findings reported that women in unbalanced environments are more likely to have their judgement questioned and face unprofessional remarks. Such barriers can impact their psychological safety and mental health at work. Many organizations believe in the value of DEI and make amazing efforts to implement programs and policies to support it; however, the reality is that many organizations fail to see the results of those efforts. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review article says 40% of workers today feel isolated at work, despite the fact that in the U.S. alone, "businesses spend nearly $8 billion each year on diversity and inclusion (D&I) training" according to research from McKinsey & Company.

Few thoughts mentioned below to make your DEI efforts robust and meaningful.

D&I as Core Business Strategy

D&I should be a key component in developing and implementing business plans and be well-ingrained in the company's day-to-day operations. A representative team will produce things that can better appeal to a diverse range of consumers, thereby minimising biases, preconceptions, and workarounds. To mainstream diversity such as LGBTQ+ in organisations, it is imperative that the culture and environment open up to differences. Inclusion is reached when the needs of all employees are fully integrated throughout systems and processes of the organisation internally, visibly represented externally, and when leaders include all aspects of diversity transparently while taking strategic decisions.

Leadership Direct Involvement

Leadership involvement in integrating diversity and inclusion into the company values can enhance the organisation's culture and assume accountability for meeting such goals. Therefore, it is vital for business leaders to sincerely participate in the D&I administration and ensure that the staff can actively see and feel the changes, strategies, and actions being implemented.

In this context, symbols can be very powerful; for example, LGBTQ+ employees should feel comfortable having a picture of their partner on the desk. In addition, initiatives for D&I will encourage a gender-balanced talent pool through career management, flexible work

arrangements (even customised in some cases) and support to 'all' employees with small children to care for.

D&I Programmes

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is more than policies, programs, or headcounts. Equitable employers outpace their competitors by respecting the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of all their team members. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.

Eliminate Systemic Bias

Biases can harm decision-making and talent hiring in a company. Such decisions are visible to the entire organisation and can affect its credibility negatively. Organisations must focus more on eliminating the bias on a systemic rather than an individual level. A company should have rules and policies in place that are the same for everybody regardless of who they are or where they come from. This can be done in numerous ways, such as equal pay, equal employee benefits, fair assessment, etc.

In a recent example, an organisation mentioned specific areas of experience or scope, rather than listing years of experience as a requirement. This little change helps open the talent pool up to qualified applicants who may be at an earlier stage in their career. For example, instead of looking for “5-7 years of project management experience”, making the ask “Experience managing projects autonomously, from ideation to implementation” can help the recruiter build a relevant and diverse talent pipeline.

Empathy and Compassion

Humans as a race want to belong, while discriminated people do not want to be representing a particular demographic. They want to focus on how they are going to have an impact within the company and make the most of their talent/ skills/ aspirations.

DEI is one of the most relevant initiatives for today’s workforce. Inclusion is a journey of progressive realisation and not an overnight change in organisational culture. Being recognised and identified and being respected for who we are is what everyone craves. By extending the same to all, regardless of which cohort they identify with, organisations can take that all-important step towards creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. That sense of affiliation is a key driver of psychological security, which pushes employee participation to greater heights and helps create an inclusive workplace.

(The views expressed in the article has been curated by Suvarna Mishra, Head of Human Resources, Sodexo BRS India; solely for BW People publication.)

Tags assigned to this article:


Around The World