By now, you’re probably well aware that we live in a time where robust and comprehensive Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) workplace policies are no longer optional. Your top team might already be bought in, but how do you implement policies in a way that gets everyone else to care too?
Well, when all is said and done, promoting EDI work is all about fostering an environment where all employees feel like they belong at work. But if you’re new to EDI work, getting the basics right really matters, and the EDI acronym is one of the most misunderstood out there. Most of us use the three terms interchangeably when, in fact, they mean very different things.
What is EDI?
EDI is an acronym for equity, diversity and inclusion. Here’s a quick overview of what each word means:
- Equity: This means ensuring that all employees have access to the same opportunities, resources, and benefits, regardless of their background or identity. It involves identifying and removing barriers to success and creating a level playing field for all employees.
- Diversity: Is all about the inclusion of different identities and backgrounds in the workplace. It covers visible characteristics like race, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability, as well as less obvious characteristics like sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and socio-economic status.
- Inclusion: This refers to creating a workplace culture where all employees feel valued, respected, and included. It involves recognising and appreciating the differences that employees bring to the workplace, and creating a sense of belonging for all.
Why promote EDI at work?
The UK Equality Act 2010 provides legal protection for nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. But we know you’re here because you understand that legal compliance is the bare minimum for the workplace, and relying on this alone simply isn’t enough.
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to acknowledge that, first and foremost, promoting EDI in the workplace is simply the right thing to do for one another as human beings. As stated by the CIPD, “The social justice case is based on the belief that everyone should have a right to equal access to employment, training and development based solely on merit. Everyone should have the right to be free of any direct or indirect discrimination and harassment or bullying.”
Encouraging equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace doesn't only benefit marginalized groups, but the entire workforce, leading to a more prosperous and enduring organization. By fostering a workplace atmosphere that prioritizes EDI, you can increase employee engagement, efficiency, and innovation, while also boosting your reputation and brand. Read more about the benefits of a great EDI policy here.
How to promote EDI at work
1. We all need to ‘do the work’
But first, our employees need to understand why to even bother in the first place. It might seem pretty obvious, that if you want somebody to change, then first, you have to give them a reason to. The problem is though, most EDI training seems to really miss the mark on this.
At its core, EDI work is all about understanding and valuing differences and employee education sits at the core of this. Training can inspire our people to build a better, fairer organisation, to support, and to celebrate team members with rising identities - because it benefits us all. But however good your training courses are, recycling the same ones at the start of each year is probably not going to cut it. Change takes work, but more than that, it takes repetition.
2. Create an Inclusive Hiring Process
This is where we get to take a long, hard look at those job descriptions and advertisements. Are we using language that could be turning people off? Are we unconsciously seeking out candidates who are just like us? Here are some ways of being a more inclusive employer:
- Removing bias from your job descriptions and advertisements
- Ensuring that your interviewers are trained on EDI best practices
- Using diverse hiring panels to evaluate candidates
- Being accommodating of differences, not exclusionary
Creating an inclusive hiring process will help you attract and retain a diverse group of employees, which can improve innovation and productivity in your workplace.
3. Hold Leaders Accountable
Implementing EDI in the workplace requires holding business leaders accountable for achieving diversity and inclusion objectives. This can be done by setting formal objectives for each leader, which focus on representation and positive inclusionary experiences. If each leader is given their own EDI objectives to work towards, such as mobility, inclusive hiring or fair promotion, it holds them accountable for the results and inspires real change.
Resources such as organisational and talent development should be provided for these objectives to be reached, and EDI initiatives should be considered a core part of the day job. Leaders should be recognised and rewarded for positive behaviour while negative behaviour should be addressed.
4. Create an Inclusive Workplace Culture
Creating a truly inclusive workplace culture is also about showing your diverse workplace that you truly care about their lives and experiences! Try out:
- Celebrating diversity and cultural differences, through things like events and celebrating cultural holidays
- Providing equal opportunities for all employees, ensuring that you remain aware of unconscious bias and have means of protecting against it
- Encouraging open communication and feedback between employees and management
- Addressing and preventing harassment and discrimination with training and reporting tools
Inclusive workplaces should promote respect and engagement, creating a space that employees look forward to being a part of every day!
5. Promote Employee Resource Groups
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are voluntary groups of employees who come together based on shared characteristics or experiences. These groups can provide support and advocacy for underrepresented employees in your workplace. You can support ERGs by:
- Providing resources and funding
- Encouraging participation
- Providing opportunities for ERGs to share their experiences and perspectives with leadership
ERGs are a great way to create a sense of belonging and community in your workplace, and employees can bond over both professional and personal experiences!
6. Provide Equal Opportunities for Career Advancement
For everyone to feel equal and included, they need to be given the same opportunities to thrive at work. Ensure that you are providing everyone not just with the same opportunities, but with the help that they specifically need given their background and experiences. You can also try:
- Providing training and development opportunities for all employees
- Ensuring that promotion and advancement opportunities are based on merit and not on personal biases
- Providing mentoring and coaching opportunities for underrepresented employees
7. Measure and Track Your Progress
Finally, you want to make sure that you’re on the right track and getting the results you want by measuring and tracking your progress towards promoting EDI in your workplace. You can do this by:
- Conducting regular employee surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and engagement
- Tracking diversity metrics like gender, race, and ethnicity in your workplace
- Analysing promotion and retention rates by demographic
Measuring and tracking your progress can help you find areas of improvement and ensure that your EDI initiatives are effective. If in doubt, listen to your employees — you don’t have to guess how satisfied they are, just create a space, and employees will tell you the truth!
GoodCourse is the harassment and inclusion training platform built for modern teams. By pairing TikTok-style content with expert-made learning paths, create cultural change with courses your employees actually enjoy.
From preventing sexual harassment to managing unconscious bias, GoodCourse equips your teams with the skills they need to create a safer, more inclusive culture.
Talk to a member of our team to see if GoodCourse is right for your company.