Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (often abbreviated as DEI) are distinct, yet related, concepts that are important to the environment of any organization. DEI involves training and practices which seek to build cultural understanding, empathy, awareness and a welcoming environment across professions, academia, and more. Recent trends, social movements, and the Covid’19 pandemic have put these topics front and center in conversations about the evolving workplace.
Diversity, broadly speaking, is the practice of bringing in people from a variety of cultures, races, faiths, and other backgrounds. Diversity also refers to including people of different gender identity sexual orientation, age, life experiences, and disability. Diverse organizations involve people from all walks of life.
Many social movements and workplace training initially focused on Diversity as the sole goal. However, in recent years the scope has broadened to include the concepts of Equity and Inclusion.
Equity can be described as a set of values and practices which seek to ensure equal opportunity and access regardless of background or identity. Equity refers to treating people the same, implementing measures to reduce disadvantages, and seeking to remove obstacles for marginalized groups. Equitable organizations establish a fair and just environment so everybody has the same footing, so to speak.
Inclusion is the concept of actively involving people; in this context, it can be understood as the practice of actively involving a diverse group through equitable measures. Inclusivity can involve fostering collaboration between different groups, seeking perspectives from all members of a team, and teaching people to understand and respect each other across their differences so they are open and inviting to one another. Inclusive organizations see all members of their teams having a voice and playing an active role, regardless of who they are.
DEI comprise the three main pillars of the current social movement, but Belonging is a word that has recently risen to prominence in conversations. The pandemic in particular exposed a great deal of isolation and alienation experienced by many Americans, even those who were involved in communities and organizations that had robust DEI training and values. Belonging refers to a deeper-than-surface-level sense that people are genuinely involved and engaged with an organization, and their identity and background are not something that is a barrier to that involvement.
Many are now understanding the benefits of online diversity training in the workplace or simply put, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and now Belonging are topics that come up often in the current conversations surrounding work, politics and culture. Events like the pandemic have only shone a brighter light on the need to foster these attitudes and values in an organization.