By Haley Cummings, VISTA Communications Liaison
Diversity, equity, and inclusion. What do these three words really mean and why are they so important for creating a high functioning work environment? First, let's start with the basics of understanding each of these words individually.
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion?
As defined in an article by Independent Sector, diversity is “all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another.” People can differ in many ways such as race, age, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic state as well as many more.
According to the same article, equity is “the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups.” Equity focuses on equal opportunity and access to resources. This can often be confused with equality, which focuses on giving equal resources to all. However, equality gives equally whereas equity gives until all are equal.
Independent Sector defines inclusion as “the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate.” Inclusion aims to engage all members to feel welcome in their environment.
Who benefits from diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace?
Employees, business processes, and external stakeholders all benefit from diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Benefits to employees consist of increased job satisfaction, lower stress, developed feelings of belongingness/ loyalty, and high work commitment. Day to day business processes improve by reducing conflicts, increasing mutual understanding/respect, improves creativity and innovation. Lastly, the external stakeholders see an improvement in communication and relationship with suppliers, gain access to more people and markets, and promote an environment where everyone is welcome (Sharma 15-17).
How is Willis Dady incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion in their values?
Willis Dady’s value statement, as seen below, applies to all clients without regard for the protected classes. This is a living example of how Willis Dady works to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion with all clients.
Willis Dady Value Statement:
· Empowerment: Guide each client to own their authority to improve their situation
· Respect: Understand and value the needs and abilities of each client
· Accountability: Hold each client responsible for accomplishing their goals
· Compassion: Sympathetic concern for the wellness of each client
· Integrity: Be direct and honest with each other
· Acceptance: Affirming each client as people with experience
· Education: Impart knowledge of resources and perspectives
Through promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion Willis Dady clients, volunteers, and employees all reap the benefits. These benefits include a higher feeling of belonging, a wider range of experiences, and more creativity (Silveira 3-4).
Another way Willis Dady has been working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion is through their Equity and Inclusion Committee. This committee, started in November of 2020, works to create an environment where every client at Willis Dady feels protected and included. The committee has been working to create a system in which clients can file grievances towards employees if the client feels they were discriminated against. In thinking through as many situations as possible they have come up with an objective and fair system. Through the new grievance process, clients are entitled to a timely case and up to two appeals of the committee’s decision. The Equity and Inclusion committee is working to create a volunteer and employee version of the grievance process. As of this blog posting, Willis Dady staff have completed training on the new grievance system and will receive additional training as the committee shares equitable practices for the agency. The next step for the committee is to address systemic racism through community partnerships and education while continuing to build equality and inclusion for their clients.
While progress has been made in many workplaces to increase diversity, equity and inclusion there is always room for improvement. Willis Dady will continue to support their clients, volunteers, and staff through learning opportunities and training on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Kapila, Monisha, et al. “Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter.” Independent Sector, 6 Oct. 2016, independentsector.org/resource/why-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-matter/.
Sharma, Radha Kanwal. Managing Diversity at Workplace. Society Publishing, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.uni.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xna&AN=2014094&site=ehost-live.
Silveira, Evelina, and Jill Walters. Building Blocks of Workplace Inclusion. Association For Talent Development, 2017. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.uni.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xna&AN=1545644&site=ehost-live.