Caroline Griffiths October 3 2023

Navigating the Challenges of DEI in business: A path to success

Embracing diversity, equity and inclusion is a transformative journey. By investing in behavioural change, individuals can overcome their fears and unlock the true power of DEI. It is vital to remember that DEI is not just a moral imperative, it is a strategic advantage that drives innovation, fosters collaboration, and ultimately leads to sustainable growth and success.

We know first-hand that our clients are striving to create psychologically safe and professional environments that embrace DEI so let’s explore some of the obstacles and offer some creative solutions to help your business thrive. 

What are some of the key challenges that businesses face?

1. Fear of failure to address, identify or articulate without sounding misinformed or unintentionally offensive.  The quest for an open feedback culture, underpinned by truth telling, ensures accountability and helps make speaking up part of your organisation's DNA. Speak up strategies have broader effects, in aligning on vulnerabilities, accelerating performance outcomes and creating universality amongst all to remove the fear from the organisation and ensuring transparent, transformative interactions.


2. Reducing unconscious bias.

One of the primary challenges business’ face is unconscious bias. Fundamentally because we all have it within us to create assumptions and judgements which causes a bias about both our self and others, which lead to complexities in our relationships with others.

These biases can unknowingly influence hiring decisions, promotions, and overall workplace dynamics. To tackle this challenge, high-performing inclusive organisations invest in more than one-off training programmes and take a much more proactive approach with comprehensive, inclusive, longer-term solutions to create systemic and culturally tangible results.


3. Leadership commitment. 

Companies who perform highest in the diversity audits tend to have senior sponsorship, with some creating executive appointments (Chief Diversity Officer) and making clear decisions on mandatory practice and best practice.


4. Retaining and advancing diverse talent

Whilst businesses may have successfully hired diverse talent, the challenge lies in retaining and advancing individuals within the organisation. Implementing diverse mentorship programmes, providing growth opportunities, and offering employee resource groups or guilds can contribute to fostering an inclusive environment where diverse talent can thrive.


5. Addressing intersectionality. 

Different dimensions of diversity intersect and influence employee experiences. However, by ensuring that DEI interventions are comprehensive and encompass various aspects of identity such as race, gender, sexual orientation and disability, will demonstrate both acknowledgement and action towards creating a more inclusive workplace.


6. Data insights, measuring and accountability 

By implementing behavioural audits, measurement and accountability systems businesses can ensure their DEI efforts are effective, consistent, and impactful. This is particularly important for Global organisations who need to work within the parameters of local laws and regulations.


7. Fear of performance impacts.

Some organisations can fear what this focus means to performance and bottom line, however there is significant research to say that organisations with DEI commitment firmly embedded in their culture outperform their competition. Diverse groups are particularly important when it comes to driving rapid evolution, innovation, and collaborative effort.


8. Creating a culture of psychological safety.

Banter can cause a challenge for organisations because whilst it is perceived as a camaraderie amongst teams, it often perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Without the right education and support it can prove a real minefield for leaders, who are keen not to lose the spirit of their team, but equally to ensure a positive and inclusive environment.


9. Being aware of your existing culture and environment. 

Often the toughest challenge of them all, is having self-awareness and awareness of how others perceive themselves and others within the organisation but also the organisation itself on a grand scale. It is therefore important to look at composite data, gathered with thorough diagnostic tools, to understand the perception and reality of your organisation. This becomes a starting point to create psychological safety and to help you move forward with changing behaviours, become more conscious and curious, helping you to adapt systems, DEI strategies and existing policies to progress change and take diversity from a moral imperative to a strategic advantage, driving innovation, inclusivity, collaboration and growth.  

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