Diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, have been hot topics in the business community over the past few years. You’ve probably heard these topics discussed in meetings, sought out a company that focuses on incorporating DEI initiatives into its culture or spearheaded a program yourself.
If these are unfamiliar topics, you’re probably wondering what these terms mean in a business context, and why they’re important. Let’s dive in!
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Diversity refers to who’s at work: who is recruited, hired, and promoted by a company. In other words, diversity is the representation of a range of traits and experiences in a company’s workforce. These characteristics include gender, race, physical ability, religion, age, and socioeconomic status, among others—or, as defined by Gallup, “the full spectrum of human demographic differences.”
While equality suggests that all people should be treated the same, equity asks us to take unique experiences and backgrounds into consideration. Equity requires an understanding of disparities between different groups of people due to marginalization or discrimination. According to UIowa, "Being equitable means acknowledging and addressing structural inequalities—historic and current—that advantage some and disadvantage others. Equal treatment results in equity only if everyone starts with equal access to opportunities."
Inclusion refers to how people feel at work. A company’s workforce may be diverse, but if employees do not feel safe, welcomed, and valued, that company isn’t inclusive and will not perform to its highest potential. Point blank, inclusion is the degree to which employees feel “valued, respected, accepted, and encouraged to fully participate in the organization.”
The Benefits of DEI
The benefits of implementing DEI initiatives in the workplace are wide-ranging and varied—there’s literally no downside! From attracting the most qualified employees and creating a happy workforce with high job satisfaction to fostering innovation and greater financial success, the companies that have the highest rates of diversity and inclusion are the ones that succeed.
So why do some companies balk? Implementing DEI initiatives takes a lot of introspection about a company’s internal practices and oftentimes, personal biases. If your leadership team or key stakeholders need a bit of a nudge, we’ve gathered some of the most compelling statistics around. Know it, show it, champion it—more diversity and inclusion at your company have only benefits.
Employees can't be expected to leave their race and background at the door. Here's why you should embrace diversity, instead.
Statistics that prove why you should incorporate DEI initiatives
Growing demand from employees for diverse, inclusive workplaces
1. The millennial and Gen Z generations are the most diverse in history: only 56% of the 87 million millennials in the country are white, as compared to 75% of the 76 million members of the baby boomer generation. (CNN Money)
The U.S. population, and therefore the nation’s workforce, is becoming increasingly diverse. In 2020, the percentage of people who identify as white alone dropped to 57.8% from 63.7% in 2010. According to the US Census Bureau, by 2044, groups that are currently minorities will become the majority.
This change is based on three factors: first, members of the baby boomer generation are reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce. Birthrates are falling among the white population. And younger Americans (under the age of 44) are increasingly members of minority groups—and these younger folks are seeking out workplaces that are focused on and committed to creating workplaces that reflect the country’s demographics and in which they feel welcome and respected.
2. 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity. (Glassdoor)
According to a survey done by Glassdoor, a diverse workplace is one of the main factors potential employees take into account when considering a job.
A diverse workplace proved important to a majority of white workers, but it was of paramount importance to minority job seekers: 72% of women (v. 62% of men), 89% of African Americans, 80% of Asians, and 70% of Latinos ranked workforce diversity as important in their job search.
This means that creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is central to attracting talented employees and setting your company up for success.
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Impact on the work environment
3. Beyond changing national demographics, why are workers seeking more diverse and inclusive workplaces? Because 45% of American workers experienced discrimination and/or harassment in the past year. (Gallup)
Just over half (55%) of American workers agree that their place of work has D&I policies in place; yes, this is a majority of workers, but it means that nearly half of the workforce is employed by organizations that aren’t creating safe and welcoming environments for all of their employees. This affects employee safety, well-being, and retention, and stunts the economic success of a company.
4. 50% of women report experiencing microaggressions and 14% experienced harassment in the last year. 93% of women think reporting non-inclusive behaviors will negatively impact their careers. (UPL)
The majority of women in the workforce also feel excluded from decision-making, do not feel comfortable expressing their opinions, and do not feel as though they can succeed according to Culture Amp.
Only 40% of women feel satisfied with the decision-making process at their organization (versus 70% of men), which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor employee retention.
5. When it comes to race and seniority level, over 75% of managers are white. The senior manager level is 83% and the executive level is 85% white. (US Census Bureau)
A lack of diversity in the leadership of an organization hampers innovation, prohibits members of minority groups from being recognized for their contributions, and fails to meet client expectations.
6. Companies with executive levels comprised of over 30% women are 48% more likely to outperform companies with less gender diversity. (McKinsey)
Companies with more women in leadership positions consistently outperform companies with less than a third of their leadership positions filled by women.
However, a look at the Fortune Global 500 list illustrates the continued disparity of women at the executive level: only 5% of companies are run by women. For the Fortune 500 list of companies in the US, only 8.8% of companies are run by women.
7. Companies in the top quartile for being ethnically and culturally diverse are 36% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. (McKinsey)
Creating an inclusive culture and a workplace where employees feel respected, valued, and comfortable being themselves isn’t just good common sense—it’s also good for your company’s bottom line.
With diverse and inclusive companies outperforming those who haven’t made the effort to recruit and retain diverse talent or create a welcoming and innovative environment, there’s no question that DEI initiatives are good for business.
8. Companies with greater-than-average diversity had 19% more innovation revenues. (Harvard Business Review)
A study by Harvard Business Review found that the most diverse companies were also the most innovative, allowing them to market a greater range of products to consumers.
In this study, HBR calculated each company’s diversity across six dimensions: migration, industry, career path, gender, education, and age. They found that industry, country of origin, and gender had the biggest impacts, but by thinking about diversity in a multidimensional way companies were able to lead in innovation.
9. 83% of millennials are actively engaged at work when they believe the culture of their organization is inclusive. (Deloitte)
Considering millennials make up the majority of the workforce (39.4% as of 2020), and Gen Z-ers are the most diverse generation in history, it's increasingly important for companies to focus on creating a culture of belonging for their employees.
According to Gallup, companies scoring in the top quarter for employee engagement are 23% more profitable and experience up to 43% less turnover than those in the bottom quarter.
10. Employees with a greater sense of belonging and inclusion at work report 167% higher eNPS scores. (Harvard Business Review)
Employee net promoter score or "eNPS" is the likelihood that a current employee would recommend your company as a great place to work. It can also be an indicator of company culture, a predictor of turnover, and a gauge of overall employee engagement.
11. A strong sense of belonging among employees was also found to result in a 50% lower risk of turnover and a 56% increase in job performance. (Harvard Business Review)
Experts at HBR also wanted to understand the impact of exclusion so they ran a series of tests. They ultimately discovered that those who felt excluded put in less effort for their teams than those who felt included.
They also mention that allyship from another person on the team can protect employees from exclusion and the negative impacts on the team as a result.
With these stats, you can see why you should make diversity, equity, and inclusion top priorities at your company: D&I initiatives make workplaces smarter and more successful, while also contributing to increased job satisfaction, employee retention, and revenue.
Don’t get left behind—improved DEI is a competitive advantage for any organization. The Bonusly platform helps thousands of companies build a culture of purpose, progress, and belonging for their employees.
To build resilient, more inclusive teams, download our free toolkit today:
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