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3 approaches companies can adopt to boost DEI in 2021

By Raikishori Ganguly

Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity or DEI as these are being called collectively, have gained immense attention in the global business circuit in 2020. It is true that DEI is not a new concept. In fact, companies have been propagating DEI in their organizations for years now. These proclamations have been proven to be quite empty when several stories of discrimination in office space surfaced.

Liana Douillet Guzman, the CMO of Skillshare and COO of Blockchain, in an article published by Inc, applauded the initiatives and actions taken by many companies in the recent past to support DEI initiatives internally as well externally. However, she also asserted that enough is not being done and in 2021, companies should step up their DEI drives.

In this context, it must be highlighted that today business perception of DEI has undergone a significant transition. Diversity, equity and inclusivity is no longer a social or moral imperative but also a business requirement. Backed by innumerable studies, top business leaders worldwide have admitted that companies with strong DEI policies can thrive better in the swiftly shifting socio-economic scenario.

Here are 3 approaches suggested by Liana Douillet Guzman that help companies to strengthen their DEI drives in 2021.

Accept your vulnerability

The first step towards strengthening a shortcoming comes from the recognition and acceptance of existing gaps. Companies must acknowledge their vulnerabilities with regards to DEI after undertaking a holistic review of company beliefs, ethics and policies. In today’s rapidly evolving scenario, gaps are most plausible to exist. They must then, look for ways to fill those gaps effectively and swiftly.

Many companies often resort to employee resource groups (ERGs) for addressing the shortcomings but most often then not, that approach is not enough. An effective alternative for stepping up an organization’s DEI policies is to rope in a firm that can suggest the required policy changes and educate the company employees at all levels so that all factions of the workforce embrace DEI principles from the core.

Become the leader your employees need you to be

A company can truly embrace DEI principles when its C-suit leaders and their bosses believe and drive DEI ethics. An employee can only dream of reaching a certain position if they see someone similar to them on the top table. Company leaders must show their support for propagating DEI by including people from different background, gender, and race in the senior executive circle.

Indeed in 2020 we had record number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 list, but that number was just 38 – an extremely disproportionate gender gap that must be actively addressed by all. However, the Gen Z leaders, a breed of go-getters belong to a diverse milieu and are expected to break the homogeneity of the corporate world.

In this digital age, mere statements don’t cut the deal, instead they are called out by employees and leaders are made accountable. Today’s workforce demands transparency from their leaders and expect leaders to take a stand internally and externally even if that cuts profits in the short run. A shining example is how Nascar banned Confederate flags to support racial justice, even though there was a huge chance of incurring potential losses in ad revenue and ticket sales.

Proactivity is the finest activity

Action focused on DEI principles is often reactionary in companies. A reactionary policy or measure is never as effective as a proactive reform. Businesses must truly alter their principles and purpose to incorporate DEI in the company DNA. They must propagate DEI in proactive ways and take open stances by voicing their support for DEI.

2021 is a pivotal year for businesses as the reboot in the post-pandemic scenario is about to reach conclusion. Companies must make sure to ramp up DEI principles to boost overall societal progress and eliminate any possibilities of retreat through “open conversation, genuine leadership and proactivity.”

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