Francis Goss, Director, People Experience Consulting, explains what is meant by diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and discusses why it’s important in order for organisations to build a fairer and more equitable workplace.

Author: Francis Goss


What is diversity, equity and inclusion?

The meaning of diversity is the presence of difference within a giving setting, such as a workplace, including characteristics such as race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and religion among others. Equity is an approach that ensures everyone has access to the same opportunities for career development, pay, benefits and growth. Inclusion happens when people with different identities and backgrounds feel equally valued, welcomed, respected, supported and included within the setting.

What UK legislation applies to DE&I?

The Equality Act 2010, legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. The Act means it’s illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of characteristics such as age, gender, sexual orientation, race, disability and religion. Organisations must adhere to the Equality Act and ensure that there are equal opportunities for all its people, regardless of the characteristics above. Specifically, organisations must:

  • Take action to meet the different needs of its employees
  • Remove any disadvantages that may exist
  • Help to grow participation where it is disproportionately low

Why is DE&I important?

Most would agree that morally, everyone in society should be responsible for creating a fair and inclusive environment. Curating a culture of belonging, respect and fairness is paramount for leaders, but an organisation’s employees also have a key role to play. A sense of belonging within the workplace is an important part of the people experience, improving employee connectedness, which in turn builds resilience and trust amongst colleagues. When companies imbed DE&I into all aspects of their people experience from recruitment to on-boarding, career development, training and employee benefits - its people thrive.

Organisations with effective DE&I strategies are more profitable, benefit from different and diverse ideas and ways of working, and have an easier time attracting new people. For example, a study conducted by Deloitte, found that cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by up to 20%. In addition, organisations in the top quartile for gender diversity within executive teams, are 25% more likely to have above average profitability - compared to those in the fourth quartile. Likewise, organisations in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity within executive teams, are 36% more likely to have above average profitability compared to companies in the fourth quartile. While Harvard Business Review says that cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster and more effectively.

DE&I is also a massive element in attracting top talent as well. According to recent research1, 96% of respondents said a diverse workforce was an important factor when evaluating job opportunities and potential companies to become part of.

Discrimination complaints a cause for concern for leaders

New figures from Gallagher suggest that almost 20% of leaders surveyed are worried about employees making discrimination complaints, due to them saying the wrong thing at work. Therefore, it’s essential for organisations to devise a structured approach to DE&I strategy and vision. We’d encourage leaders to formulate aspirations and assess the company’s existing people experience. Our overall aims here should include developing our workplace awareness of equality issues, learning about the impact of our policies on our people, setting quantifiable objectives and improving what we do. Assessment tools to understand an organisation’s existing position may include employee surveys, in-depth employee feedback and consultation and benchmarking with peer groups. This insight can assist companies in creating a set of goals and actions to address the gaps in its DE&I strategy. Furthermore, it’s important to measure progress to continuously improve and to regularly communicate our progress to our people. An example of how employers may address shortfalls include, investing in professional skills building programmes, such as leadership workshops and specific skills led training programmes for topics such as why DE&I matters and how implicit biases are formed. A comprehensive approach is needed to help mitigate risks around litigation and to ensure employees are all treated fairly.

Further support

If you would like to discuss how we could assist you in creating a workplace where all of your people feel supported and understood, please contact Francis Goss, Director, People Experience Consulting below.


1. Research conducted by ZipRecruiter

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