What is DEIB? Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are hot topics in many organizations. But, they can take some effort to understand. We’re here to demystify these and give you a few tips for launching DEIB initiatives in your workplace.
You might hear many acronyms—EDI, DEI, JEDI, DEIB —and we’ll share what each of these means. For this discussion, the order isn’t that important but understanding the concepts is critical.
Ideas behind DEIB programs have been around for a long time, and they’ve become even more prevalent in the last few years as acts of violence (and murder) against members of Black, Brown, and AAPI (Asian American + Pacific Islander) communities have become highly visible.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
“Justice [for Black people] will not flow into this society merely from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory…White America must recognize that justice [for Black people] cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”
While that quote is decades old, the concept represents the last 2 years’ critical turning point—or racial reckoning. As massive protests and coordinated movements have grown in response to injustice, the pressure–and opportunity–exists for making substantial changes in workplaces around the globe.
In this post, we define the common DEIB terms for you, describe how they connect, and share ideas for starting DEIB initiatives in your organization.
Use this article as a starting point for making real change at work.
What does DEIB stand for?
Let’s start with the basic definitions for each part of the DEIB acronym:
- Diversity is all the ways people differ. This can include a range of identity characteristics like race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, and much more.
- Equity is fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people. It’s a condition we’re striving for— where identity doesn’t influence how someone fares at work.
- Inclusion is the work of creating environments where many people and groups are welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to participate fully. This means including a diverse set of people in decision-making and positions of authority.
- Belonging describes the experience of being accepted and included by those around you. You have a sense of connection with others and feel that your full potential is engaged at work.
So, that’s DEIB defined.
DEI is just Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
EDI is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
And, JEDI is Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
5 Tips for DEIB in the workplace
We dream of a future where all people thrive at work and achieve their full human potential through diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. If you dream of that too, here are 5 tips on getting started.
1. Build shared, ongoing knowledge around key DEIB concepts
Sure, some people like to call this diversity or DEIB “training.” But why not help shed light on what this really should be: opportunities for shared education, mission alignment, and personal/professional growth?
When done well, you can help every person on your team see their place in the context of this larger conversation (across all personal identities). Over time and with a strong foundation, they’ll use what they learn to make systemic or programmatic changes within their work areas.
We know this sounds lofty, and getting started is most of the struggle. Just be sure to have a consistent plan, however gradual it might feel to start. The most important thing here is not to fall into the trap of one-and-done training sessions or other common drawbacks of traditional diversity programs.
Be especially mindful of not solely centering on the experiences or perspectives of the majority. Scaffolding over time is key, and plenty of DEIB consultants and educators can support these efforts.
We know these topics feel big. So, our advice for most people is to focus first on 2 high-priority areas:
- plant small seeds of impact by updating existing learning and development courses with DEIB principles
- train people managers on leading diverse and inclusive teams
The most urgent work here is creating the right conditions for change by helping to heal the harms that marginalized individuals are experiencing. Then, getting ahead of any future damage or missteps.
This brings us to…
2. Get support + resources for ERGs
What are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? Good question. We define ERGs ERGs as:
“employee identity or experience-based groups that are meant to build community in the workplace. ERGs are sometimes known as Affinity Groups or Diversity Groups.”source: Ongig Diversity Glossary
Well-resourced ERGs are a vital offering for members of marginalized groups to feel a deeper sense of safety, understanding, purpose, and camaraderie in their professional lives. They’re also an essential component of a solid DEIB strategy.
Here are a few best practices for launching ERGs:
- Encourage self-created and self-governed groups with the right amount of allyship in place, especially in the form of executive sponsorship. Build relationships between ERGs and those who have the power to change policies and practices.
- Get group leads the training and support to operate these essential groups and advocate for getting them the pay adjustment they more than earn through this work. Take it from two people fully immersed in equity work daily—this work is intensive, both mentally and emotionally. Don’t unintentionally perpetuate harmful stereotypes by expecting free labor from already-marginalized people.
- Encourage thoughtful solidarity between groups by first ensuring that the allocation of resources is equitable. Then facilitate regular touchpoints and resource sharing specific to DEIB, like ones rooted in restorative justice practices.
- If you have well-established ERGs already in place, consider fresh perspectives for experiences not often discussed in the workplace, like an ERG or program for first-generation professionals or a group focused on intersecting marginalized identities.
3. Look beyond the scope of “traditional benefits”
When leaders talk about applying a DEIB lens to all facets of the employee experience, benefits can feel like one of the most challenging areas to turn the dial.
Start with something that is a lighter lift, like instating floating holidays. This can directly support members of cultures and religions not recognized by the government.
Look at your remote, accessibility, and wellness policies. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that retaining employees must mean employers support the overall health and well-being of their workforce.
Do an audit of current policies to ensure they support flexible locations and schedules while giving employees the tools they need to work well at home.
You can also do a review of any benefits or handbooks that reference “families” or “parents” rather than “caretakers.” For some people, extended family and/or chosen family are their primary support systems. Ask how your bereavement policies can take that into account, or how you can extend benefits for parents to employees caring for elderly loved ones.
4. Revamp your coaching + performance philosophy
Many manager trainings and performance management systems have not been updated in years. And certainly not since COVID, remote work, and DEIB have taken center stage in workplaces.
Yours might even be rigid in hopes of reducing biases when, in reality, it could be hindering employees from reaching their maximum potential.
Try starting a small advisory group of diverse employees from various departments and experience levels to review your performance management system. Gather their candid feedback on what is and isn’t working for them in this current professional landscape.
Ask about which parts of your system they enjoy or appreciate, what causes stress or anxiety, and how the system can be tweaked to help them stay more engaged in their development.
During the process, be sure to give space for anonymous feedback via a tool like Jamboard. Then synthesize that feedback. And review it alongside these 6 tips for creating more equitable performance management systems to see what short and long-term changes you might implement.
5. Analyze pay equity + transparency
Did you just take a deep breath reading that? Yep, we know this one is multi-layered in even the most equitable organizations. But, your DEIB work is incomplete if it doesn’t begin to peel back those layers.
Achieving this will take time, but there is no such thing as equity in your organization without pay equity.
In fact, if you avoid the topic, it can make it much harder to gain trust among underrepresented groups—especially Black and Latina women, who earn anywhere from 57-64 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
“before Covid-19, about one-third of Latinas and Black women had less than $300 to fall back on in an emergency. Now, those numbers have jumped to 47% of Latinas and 50% of Black women.”
The best places to start are:
- making sure you gather and compare current compensation data (by group) to surface inequities
- including salary ranges or actual salaries in job posstings
The most important thing to do is start. Your courage, collaboration, and commitment will fuel your success while learning from experts will grow your field of awareness.
This work can be incredibly rewarding as a way to have a long-term impact on your organization (and the world around it). So get started today, or find out how you can support those already doing this work in your company.
DEIB Meaning: How Your Workforce Reflects DEIB Success
Now that you know the DEIB meaning, the next question is how do you know if your DEIB initiatives are a success? Most often, co.s that go all in on DEIB show success through the diversity of their employees. Here are some great examples:
- Biogen: Their company data shows 53% of their management are women, and 30% are people of color. In their 2021 data, 3.7 % of employees identify as having a disability.
- Centene: This company has 76% women in their workforce (65% holding supervisory positions), 48% are people of color (36% hold management positions), and 10% of their workforce identify as having a disability.
- Microsoft: Microsoft’s Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report showed 30.2% of its global workforce were women, 47% of its US workforce were people of color, and 6.1% of its employees identified as having a disability.
Why we wrote this
Ongig’s mission is to create effective and inclusive job descriptions that support your DEIB initiatives. Please request a demo to learn more.
Viva Asmelash is a people ops and inclusion strategist who works with select clients building sustainable diversity/equity/inclusion strategy, facilitating critical team conversations, and supporting authentic, values-driven branding with an eye toward inclusion.
Michael Gregor is a coach, trainer, and organization designer passionate about building just and joyful communities. For the past 15 years, he’s helped leaders and teams implement transformative new operating models, systems, and practices prioritizing inclusion and participation.
When you need help, get in touch! We offer our expertise around equitable performance management, equity audits, strategy, and coaching at liberationlabs.co.
- Why Diversity Programs Fail And what works better (by Frank Dobbi and Alexandra Kalev)
- Here’s what happens when salary is actually included in job listings (by Kathryn Vasel)
- The system is failing Latinas and Black women (by LeanIn)
- How to pay your ERG leaders (by CultureAmp)
- Women still earn 83 cents on the dollar compared with men. Let’s fix that. (by Charlotte A. Burrows)
- Shifting from Control to Liberation in Workplace Performance Processes (by Viva Asmelash and Michael Gregor)
- What are Workplace Restorative Practices? (by Pollack Peacebuilding Systems)
- Now is not the time to fall prey to diversity fatigue. Here’s what to do to keep improving (by Michael Ellison and Kristen Titus)
- Microsoft tops the list of most transparent companies for diversity data. Here’s how far the top 5 have come — and how they can still improve (by Marguerite Ward)