Equity, Diversity, Inclusion EDI – My Learning So Far

equity, diversity, inclusion edi my learning so far

Not long after leaving college, I realised I actually enjoy learning and perhaps my primary degree was not exactly what I wanted to study.  These days, study presents new perspectives and opportunities and I will take every chance I get to learn something new. 

For the past two years, I have been reading a lot and attending webinars from around the world addressing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.  I have enjoyed exploring influencing factors, seeing how these intersect with each other,  the impact of these factors and how they are experienced by people when challenges arise.

I like to think that workplaces are well positioned to be beacons for learning and change.  I know not everyone may agree, but the working world has changed at an unprecedented rate in recent years.  These changes have necessitated and accelerated open discussion about equality, diversity and inclusion, fast becoming known as EDI with increasing resources being dedicated to such initiatives in an effort to enable more inclusive work environments. 

But, what lessons have been learned and has it all been worth it?

A number of organisations have published Diversity and Inclusion statements and linked them to their KPIs.  The Statements are flanked by Equality and Equity and more recently sentiments of Value and Belonging are being attributed to and included in them….but who reads them? or more importantly – who writes them and for what purpose?

Are these statements coming from the perspective that there is a case for more EDI initiatives?  And what is the case for resources to be assigned to EDI.  My current study program is proposing that there are three cases for EDI – or maybe it is questioning which is the best case?

  1. Business Case – does it just come down to money?
  2. Legal Case – is it only about compliance?
  3. Moral Case – D&I is seen as the right thing to do?

I think it is a case of all three combined with other factors added to the equation.

In their 2021 research, Ahead carried out a survey and asked How Inclusive are Diversity and Inclusion Strategies for People with Disabilities in the Workplace?

76% of respondents stated their company has a diversity and inclusion strategy with 8% saying it was in development and the remaining 14% were none or not sure (2%).

83%, of respondents, believed that hiring people with disabilities was of benefit to the organisation with a strong sense it was a moral obligation and important to help their business to innovate with less emphasis on legal obligation.

business case for diversity and inclusionThe figure of 83% suggests respondents are driven more by the business case and the diagram here presents a compelling case. However, creating a work environment that is truly diverse and inclusive goes beyond policies, it requires effective implementation plans – and a culture of openness.

In the survey, when asked if their company had targeted recruitment aimed at people with disabilities, only 37% of respondents said they were aware of such strategies to pro-actively recruit people with disabilities. 12% said not sure, with just over half saying they did not have any targeted recruitment.

I believe the intersection between equality, equity, acceptance of difference and having inclusive workplaces – serve as reminders for us to be human.  We are all human beings who respond to compassion when times are hard and we are vulnerable.  We respond to being included because we need social connection and thrive when we feel valued or belong to something.  That should not depend on our diverse abilities, where we come from, our beliefs etc. 

D&I policies can pave the way for a better place to work and ultimately a better informed society in general as a result of work-based initiatives.  Workplaces are evolving, becoming more global and naturally more diverse.  They offer opportunities to learn about other cultures, how others experience the world and learn to work cohesively. This results in  better understanding, reducing biases and more effective teams.

Social connections are most important in both work and private lives. It is in the top three reasons why people leave their jobs. 

 What would be the impact if we could change this through D&I?

Can a culture of openness even be fully implemented by policy?  There is a saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”  What does your organisation serve to its employees?

December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities – what are your thoughts on including Disability in your D&I initiatives?