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The importance of DEI

The importance of DEI
Sonal Shah

By Sonal Shah

21 Feb 2023

Although the business world has made strides across the last decade in addressing inequality in the workplace, there is still work to be done.

In 2023, a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) policy is regarded by businesses and employees as an essential ingredient for the workplace – helping companies continue along a progressive course whilst ensuring all employees feel able to express their full self at work.

An organisation which weaves the principles of DEI into its day-to-day operations will be able to build a diverse workforce that embraces different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds, helping the business to grow and flourish.

What is DEI?

By ‘DEI’, we are referring to any policy or custom which is implemented to make everyone feel welcome and accepted. These policies aim to ensure that everyone can access equal opportunities and support to perform in their role, no matter who they are.

When we talk about diversity, this could encompass gender, ethnicity, race, religion, age, disability or neurodiversity, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental or part-time status, or socio-economic background.

In the context of DEI, equality refers to a business’ development of processes which are seen as impartial, fair, and able to provide equal possible outcomes for every colleague.

Finally, inclusion is the practice of ensuring people can feel a sense of belonging in their workplace – making it a place where they feel that they are heard and have the space and freedom to be themselves.

What does DEI mean for a company?

In 2023, businesses are looking for ways to implement DEI into their everyday practices. Understanding the way that each element of DEI interacts with the others is an important step towards creating a workplace culture which can be seen as inclusive of all individuals. Organisations looking to improve their DEI policies can look to other employers with successful models for support and guidance as well looking within their own firms. Consulting with existing colleagues and setting up internal committees is a great way for the firm’s leadership team to get feedback from all employees how they can improve. As well as this, bringing in an external specialist DEI consultant can help businesses to take that next step in shaping any policies and guidelines, something we are currently doing here at Gerald Edelman.

In formulating any DEI strategy, business leaders must model good DEI practices themselves – allowing for open dialogue, showing empathy and understanding and calling out poor behaviour.

Having a robust DEI policy in place could also be the difference in attracting and retaining talent. With quiet quitting on the rise, flexibility towards the needs of employees and ensuring they feel valued in their role is of growing importance. Increased ethics standards are also expected of companies from consumers and it has been shown that workplaces which excel in DEI often drive better business outcomes.

Why should DEI be prioritised in 2023?

Most individuals now expect DEI policies to be implemented as standard practise. Potential employees, particularly those of Gen Z, expect their workplace to be equipped to provide an inclusive and equitable culture in which they can thrive and be themselves.

It is essential that businesses reflect the world in which we live as this builds trust with employees and clients. As there is now a society-wide call for further DEI measures, this naturally applies to businesses too.

DEI can manifest as many different things in the workplace, from building diverse senior leadership teams to firms vocally supporting diverse groups both internally and externally. Organisations which remain focused on maintaining and developing positive changes surrounding DEI are more likely to benefit from increased retention of talent at all levels of seniority.

Our approach

At Gerald Edelman, we want to create a culture that’s based on trust and respect, where everyone can thrive and express themselves freely.

Step one – hearing our team: As the first step to achieving our goal, SIA was born – an initiative which provides support and a platform for the team to express their concerns, needs and requirements to help us achieve and implement the necessary changes. This is where the inspiration of the same “SIA” came from – which stands for ‘Support. Inspire. Advise’. The over-arching role of SIA is to help the firm do all it can to promote Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI).

Step two – taking action: After collating feedback and taking into account the team’s views and opinions, we realised it was time to take our DEI journey to the next level – creating a dedicated DEI committee with the main aim of formulating a clear and robust DEI strategy.

Step three – seeking guidance: To guide our DEI committee, led by Barbara Hughes and Sonal Shah, it was quickly recognised that an external specialist within the DEI sphere would be invaluable – to help us identify where we are in our DEI journey and to assist us in reviewing our policies and practices which will then become the backbone of our DEI strategy.

As a result, Pearn Kandola have been engaged who – along with our DEI committee – will pave the way to us being one step closer to achieving our goals.

We still have a long way to go but we are excited to commence our DEI journey.

How can NatWest Mentor help you in your DEI journey?

At Gerald Edelman, we partner with NatWest Mentor to support businesses like yours with all areas of HR and people management. If you’re looking to prioritise DEI in 2023, Mentor have a range of tools and courses that business owners can utilise to help them achieve their goals.

The two main courses that Mentor provide are:

  • Managing Equality and Diversity – This course will help any person with People Management responsibilities know how to avoid discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and what to do to protect their people if this occur.
  • Diversity and Inclusion – In this course, Mentor enable all of your people to create a culture where Diversity and Inclusion is embraced by allowing them to, remove barriers which people may face due to actual or perceived differences, eliminating discrimination, and making sure that everyone has the same access to employment opportunities and to goods and services.

If you would like further information about these courses or would like to book, please speak to your usual Gerald Edelman contact.


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