DEI in the Workplace: Encouraging Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Work

5 min read

Here’s how your firm can be a leader in DEI and ensure everyone feels welcome in the workplace.

Professional services industries like law, real estate, and accounting have long been the exclusive domain of straight white male employees. While there’s nothing wrong with being any of those things, historically, people who don’t fit the image of the straight white male have had to fight for recognition and opportunities at work. Women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities have all fought for the right to be included in the workplace, to be free to do their best work, and to be recognized by colleagues as capable equals.

While much progress has been made, there is still ample room for improvement in ensuring that all employees feel welcome and respected at work. Moreover, companies have a vested interest in ensuring all their employees have the opportunity to thrive. When all employees are able to perform at their peak, it makes the entire organization more productive. And for legal industry professionals in particular, adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives is a crucial recognition that legal work is about a fundamental sense of justice.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all values that reputable organizations espouse. But despite DEI often being common sense, it takes intentional planning and effort to ensure your workplace is a welcoming one. Here are some of the measures you can take to be more intentional about diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization.

Offer Flexible Holidays for Diverse Employees

While it’s standard for firms to typically observe major holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Labour Day, there’s a slew of other holidays across a variety of cultures that, all too often, don’t get equal recognition in the workplace. One great way to improve DEI at your firm is to implement a flexwork policy whereby your employees are able to work the hours and days of their choosing. This kind of policy can enable your staff to take off unconventional holidays without compromising productivity as they’re able to reschedule work days when needed to reach targets & goals.

For instance, you may have a transgender employee who wants to take off March 31 to observe the International Transgender Day of Visibility. Under a flexwork policy, your employee would be able to take part or all of that day off while making up for the missed hours elsewhere – by working on a Saturday, for instance. Or if you have a Sikh employee, perhaps they’ll work Good Friday or Easter Monday in exchange for having Vaisakhi off.

Having a flexwork policy isn’t just a good DEI measure, though – it’s also an effective employee recruitment and retention tactic, and it can help to boost your productivity, as employees are able to conduct their work during the hours when they’re most motivated and alert.

Of course, part of having a flexwork policy means giving your team the technology they need to be able to work at any time anywhere, even if your office is closed. That’s where cloud-based technology can help. Whether it’s a cloud-based project management system, or a records management and document automation solution, there’s no shortage of apps that can give your diverse employees more freedom to celebrate the holidays that are important to them.

Set Diversity Targets When Hiring

Emerging research has found that more diverse organizations tend to be more successful and tend to drive more revenue. That’s why promoting diversity within your workforce is one of the simplest ways to improve your bottom line.

When hiring, you’ll want to set certain diversity targets to ensure that your organization’s workforce has a representative sample of different genders, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds. 

There are many different ways to set diversity hiring goals, but experts agree that the best method is to pair your hiring goals with the general makeup of the population where your firm is based. If you’re based in a region where the general population is 48% female and 32% Hispanic, for instance, then matching your preferred workforce to those numbers is a reasonable diversity goal.

When setting diversity hiring goals, you’ll want to ensure you set reasonable and achievable goals based on demographics, current workforce makeup, and overall recruitment goals.

Invest in Minority Training and Mentorship

Unconscious biases can make it so that diverse employees have fewer opportunities to advance within organizations. The best way to counter these biases is to implement a deliberate minority training program that gives diverse employees access to training, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities.

These programs can take a variety of shapes, but generally speaking, you’ll want to ensure that for the first six months of a diverse new hire’s job, they have regular access to a mentor who can help them learn the ropes and build new skills. You’ll also want to ensure that your minority employees have access to advanced training programs that can help them learn new skills, demonstrate new talents, and make themselves more likely to be promoted.

Diversity initiatives like minority training programs are also a great way to improve your firm’s profitability; data from McKinsey shows that more diverse firms are more competitive and profitable. Diversity, in other words, pays.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical for businesses that want to improve their performance. DEI is also essential to ensuring your workplace is a welcoming one for new hires and a highly effective employee retention tool. However, DEI is all too often left to chance or forgotten about completely. Having a deliberate DEI strategy is one of the best ways your firm can recruit new talent, stay competitive in a growing market, improve your profit margin, and maintain a strong reputation as a firm that cares.

What are you doing to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in your firm? How are you making your workplace more welcoming for diverse individuals?

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