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Implementing DE&I for organizational success


March 8, 2022  by Janelle Abela

PHOTO: COMZEAL/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES.

The terms diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are not new. Yet, many are still vague on their definitions and how they can be implemented for organizational success. Despite being popularized through the political, social, and racial injustices over the past few years, many organizations remain unsure of what it really means for their policies, processes and procedures. Even when DE&I are enacted, many struggle with knowing if the changes are working because they aren’t sure what to look for. Further, some organizations haven’t committed to DE&I changes because they think it’s too late or just don’t know how beneficial DE&I really is.

The reality is, you can start at any moment!

1. Asking: What is our diversity?

Some organizations may already have it – since our intersectionality makes us all unique – while others may lack diversity regarding a specific attribute, such as representation of women, BIPOC or 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Intersectionality is each person’s unique experiences related to gender, race, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc.

How do you diversify your organization? 

Diversity practices are rooted in recruitment and retention. Recruitment relies on your organizations core values and culture. Are you presenting your organization as a place that is welcoming, valuing of diversity and supportive to change? Are diverse candidates represented in recruitment and marketing strategies? It is critical for your organization to investigate how the ideal candidate is being marketed and how that depiction influences the perception of potential applicants. Simultaneously, it is critical to be aware of the diversity that already exists within your organization and work to retain these individuals. Often, the best candidate is already an employee because they know your product or service, the ins and outs of the organization and can be supported for internal growth.

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2. Asking: Are we being equitable and inclusive?

The response to diversity is exhibited through equity and inclusiveness. Equity is proportional participation, distribution of resources to close equity gaps and demonstration of awareness and willingness to address equity issues. Inclusion is the active, intentional and ongoing process of equity – addressing privilege and power and how diverse communities create growth for all. Together, it is the responsive, respectful, welcoming and valuing culture that exists within an organization.

How do you create an equitable and inclusive organization?

There is no simple plan to transforming your organization. Rather, it takes time reflecting on the self and supporting the growth of those around you. Change related to DE&I cannot be solved only by writing policy or enacting procedures and processes. Rather, people need to want to change. They need to want to support policies, procedures and processes, without these formalities needing to exist. That is when true change occurs. So, start at the individual level. Allow those within the organization to explore and understand their own biases and identity. If people within the organization cannot identify the problems and are not actively committed to change, then there will never be a policy, procedure or process that will allow your organization to truly benefit from change.

3. Regroup: Reflecting and planning from step one and two.

After your organization has taken a deeper look at itself through individual growth strategies, your organization can start to plan for steps one and two, again. Each iteration of the cycle embeds DE&I more deeply into the organizational practices and strategies. The cycle is never ending and there is no right time to get into it. As your organization continues through future iterations, more collaboration and interconnection with community supports will allow your transformation to be sustainable. What is important for organizations to keep in front of mind, though, is that while this process is intensively collaborative and takes significant time, it is deeply rewarding.

DE&I’s organizational benefits

Change is no longer an option and organizations that are responding appropriately are already benefiting. Organizations that have more diverse teams are reaching untapped markets and innovating at a faster rate than organizations that remain homogenous. Recruitment and retention trends lean into DE&I trends, meaning that teams are becoming stronger and more effective as people gain choice and voice in the hiring and resignation process. We are no longer in a time where employers make all the decisions. Now, employees are fuelling change, driving innovation and demanding what they deserve ­– and what consumers deserve. It’s not a question of when your organization starts their DE&I journey. It’s a question of how committed and how appropriate your decisions along the journey are.

Haven’t started on your journey? Connect with Equity Strategist and Consultant, Janelle Abela for any questions: janelle@diversesolutions.ca

Janelle Abela founded Diverse Solutions Strategy Firm with the goal of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in corporate settings, while comprehensively benefiting the organization, employees and clientele. 

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