Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Are Not the Same Thing. Here’s How to Tell if You’re Falling Short on One.

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Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are far more than trendy buzzwords. Together they represent an essential and valuable investment in a company’s most precious resource: its workforce. 

To cash in on that investment, it’s important to define diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, and to put in the work to optimize all three. 

Company leaders increasingly recognize the benefits of DEI policies when they’re actually put into practice. These diversity statistics all recruiters need to know prove the value of a full corporate commitment to DEI principles:

Diversity, equity, and inclusivity each represent a different critical concept in the context of a workplace. Getting clear on what each of those concepts mean is the first start in strengthening a company’s commitment to building a better workforce.

Diversity Defined

Like all individuals, your company’s employees possess a number of traits by which they could be described or organized, including race, gender, religious belief, sexual identity, gender expression, body size or shape, and age, among others. 

As Sarah Saska, CEO of the DEI consulting firm Feminuity, points out, it’s important to recognize one principle fact: Individuals aren’t diverse. Calling a new hire who is transgender, for example, or who is from any non-White ethnic background “diverse” implies that they are Other—“different” from the centered norm (in most cases, a white, cisgender, heterosexual male). 

Individuals can and do add diversity to groups by way of their varying perspectives and experiences. Teams, departments, and workforces can be diverse, but diversity as a concept is entirely relative to the group in question. 

When you eliminate diversity bottlenecks and increase diversity among your company workforce, you can expect a number of profound benefits for your company and brand. 

Diversity of experience and background provides a diversity of perspectives. 

That, in turn, yields a deeper set of insights into your customer base and stronger innovation, which helps your company develop products and services that better align with your market’s needs and wants. 

Equitable Isn’t the Same As Equal

Equity and equality are often treated—well, equally, and frequently used interchangeably. However, there are some considerable differences between these concepts. Equity in the workplace means identifying the barriers that exist for many marginalized groups and designing systems, environments and policies that do two things: 

  1. Recognize the existence of those barriers; and 
  2. Help the affected individuals to transcend, surmount, or sidestep those barriers to gain access to a truly level playing field. 

The purpose of equity-driven policies is to make sure all of your participants or employees have the same access to available opportunities. Equitable workplaces recognize their workforces are made up of individuals, each of whom has a different background and consequently varying needs. Put more simply, equity means understanding that the usual sizes don’t always fit any specific individual. 

Addressing equity can be a true challenge for employers, and it is an ongoing process. At Censia, one of the ways we strive to provide greater equity through a broad set of benefits that help people at all stages in their lives

What It Means to Be Inclusive

Inclusivity is often described by way of this well-known analogy from Vernā Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” 

Yet as useful as that comparison may seem, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Building a diverse workforce is important, but it does not mean that the individual workers creating that diversity feel welcome as essential members of the group. Inclusivity at work rests on valuing all members of the team or group. 

You can invest substantial resources into creating a diverse workforce that’s supported by equitable policies and access to opportunities. However, if those people feel excluded or unvalued by the company or their colleagues, there’s no inclusivity for those individuals. 

Companies can achieve greater inclusion by creating transparent, democratic systems within their organization, encouraging participation across all departments and ranks, and having an open-door policy so that all employees can raise concerns in a protected space. 

Putting DEI Policies to Work Through AI-Powered Solutions

Focusing on capabilities-based hiring procedures that account for and minimize implicit biases is a strong first step in implementing a DEI policy. Using AI-powered tools such as Censia’s Talent Intelligence (TI) platform can help you do just that by removing information that’s often the subject of implicit or explicit biases, such as gender, race, age and more. By incorporating machine learning and predictive analysis workflows, TI can help blind your hiring processes so you can focus on evaluating the most qualified candidates as ranked by actual merit. 

Whether your company’s DEI policies represent empty promises or actual commitments to changed actions depends on how they’re implemented across the workforce. To reach the full potential of that commitment, start by achieving a common understanding of what the terms actually mean for everyone involved. 

Further Reading

image shows diverse group of people, underscoring the company's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Censia's Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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Event Recap: How to Leverage Data Science for Greater Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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How Talent Intelligence Removes Bias and Increases Diversity in Recruiting

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About the author

Elizabeth Morales
By Elizabeth Morales
Elizabeth Morales is the driving force behind Censia’s DE&I policies, where she combines her passion for social justice and psychology to ensure that all employees are heard, understood, and supported.