How to Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

December 20, 2022 Anna Chmura
business leader promotes diversity initiatives on team call

You can’t spell leadership without ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘I’

In the workplace these three letters are representative of three of the most important aspects of a healthy workplace – diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Is your organization and its leadership team confident in knowing how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

According to the report, “Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion,” organizations don’t hold themselves accountable when it comes to this topic, and only when it becomes a “need” they may use last minute ideas that sometimes cause more harm than good to the employees it intended to help, not to mention company culture.

The survey found that:

  • 76% of companies have no diversity and inclusion goals
  • 75% of companies do not have diversity and inclusion included in the company’s leadership development or overall learning & development curricula
  • Only 32% of companies require some form of diversity training for employees; 34% offer training to managers

Clearly, it’s not enough to say you have an inclusive workplace, unless you are actively working to ensure it is a diverse workforce, too. Below are ways to ensure fairness for all employees across your organization.

Diversity refers to individual characteristics an employee brings to an organization including but not limited to gender identity, cultural background, and sexual orientation; once hired, it is the leadership’s responsibility to keep them happy, healthy, and supported.

One of the best ways to do this is for leaders to actively embrace diverse viewpoints or ideas different than their own. But all too often, that isn’t the way a company’s culture is structured.

As an example, a McKinsey report found women leaders are 1.5x as likely as men at the same level, to have left a previous job because they wanted to work for a company that was committed more to diversity and inclusion. With this in mind, think about the broad range of variables that could contribute to bias between genders in your organization.

How to promote diversity in the workplace

diverse group of employees discuss unique perspectives on workplace culture

Below are examples three ways to promote your organization’s diversity practices:

1. Hire diverse talent

To attract diverse talent, you’ll need to reconsider current hiring practices used in recruiting efforts. Ensure that evergreen job descriptions interest those with diverse backgrounds and aren’t just appealing to certain classes or people with higher education.

Use inclusive language in job descriptions, employment postings, and any other type of written or digital content, both public and private, regarding your company and its activities – especially its diversity and inclusion practices.

Accenture’s managing director Tamara Fields believes, “if you can find your strength and own your voice, then you’re able to navigate the barriers that are going to come naturally.” The company has committed to a 50/50 gender balance by 2025 and understands a “truly human” workplace starts by acknowledging the experiences of all employees.

2. Educate employees with diversity training

Some organizations don’t know where to start with improving diversity, but 75% of them know it’s a top priority. Shockingly, though, only 4% of organizations say their diversity initiatives succeed, according to PwC’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Survey.

It’s essential for the employee experience that company leaders create a training program tailored to their organization’s diversity efforts – after all, there is no one size fits all.

Overall, diversity training should educate your organization on areas like unconscious bias and discrimination, cultural diversity, gender diversity, and how to effectively support employee resource groups (ERGs) or inclusion programs.

diversity training session on religious holidays

An employee resource group is one of the most effective ways to create a psychologically safe environment for employees to connect with others who have had similar life experiences. Business leaders should be actively encouraging employees to utilize company resources and support, as well as build connections with colleagues around the organization.

Make a conscious effort to learn about diverse employee experiences within your organization through things like focus groups, and based on these learnings, build educational opportunities such as events with diverse speakers or newsletters to better inform all employees about the importance of an inclusive company culture.

3. Utilize your people analytics

It’s easy to set general goals to promote diversity and an inclusive workforce, but you’ll need actual numbers to measure just how well you’re doing. One way to track is to look at decision making in hiring practices and human resources, and how that relates to your diversity goals.

For example, if you increase the number of women you hire, that alone doesn’t put you in the ranks of gender-diverse companies if a good portion of them leave the job soon after. That’s not really creating a diverse workplace. Nor is hiring a higher ratio of women in certain areas of the business while filling executive-level positions with men, which is why tracking employee turnover and tenure is so important.

For organizations with recognition programs, you should also consider how awards get distributed and how you’re quantifying recognition for employees, too. In order to achieve high levels of employee engagement and a thriving business, employees must be treated fairly in every facet of your company culture, recognition and rewards included.

How to promote equity in the workplace

A common mistake organizations make is confusing equity for equality – so let’s quickly distinguish the difference.

Equality means treating others the same; think of the “Golden Rule,” treat others the way you want to be treated. Whereas equity refers to offering resources and tools based on individual needs.

Here are three ways to start promoting equity in the workplace:

1. Employee resource groups

There’s no limit to how many employee resource groups (ERGs) a company should offer. They create a dedicated space for a diverse range of employees with shared characteristics or life experiences, to come together in a safe space and bond.

For example, you may decide to create an ERG to assist employees who are new parents, LGBTQ+ workers, or professionals of color in sales and marketing.

women at work employee resource group meets to share experience

Drew Lewis, VP of global diversity & talent at ADP, sees ERGs as an impactful way to bolster recruitment, employee experience, and employer brand and have a key role in working with minority groups. Gauge interest in what kind of groups your employees prefer and promote these groups through frequent communication to encourage employee engagement and an equitable company culture.

2. Evaluate employee benefits

Since the middle of the 20th century, many employers in the U.S. have offered a standard medical and dental benefits package, and while many still do, as humans and the world around them change, so do their needs. The problem then becomes, are organizations providing what all of their employees need?

We should hope so, considering 56.1% of U.S. employees surveyed in our Human Workplace Index believe it is an employer’s responsibility to offer benefits to support personal life events.

For example, an education stipend provides continuous education and creates chances for underrepresented employees to grow within your organization. If funding is a struggle, it’s likely time to do an audit on your spending; if how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a priority for an organization, there needs to be an actual investment made.

hr professionals audit employee benefits for equity

Internal mentorship programs are also beneficial for an inclusive workplace as they create professional development opportunities and cultivate new relationships between employees who have had similar struggles and experiences.

3. Conduct pay reviews

Let’s be honest, the conversation around salary typically has a stigma around it. Bring a proactive approach to the topic by scheduling meetings with employees to discuss a breakdown of their pay and why it is what it is. Also, look into other incentives employees can benefit from.

With an“anyone-to-anyone” rewards and recognition program, employees at all different levels have the opportunity to earn monetary rewards from anyone in the business. These incentives feel more authentic and fair because they come both from leaders and colleagues who can see and appreciate their work, firsthand.

Find out how Recognition data can take your DEI strategy to new heights.

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How to promote inclusiveness in the workplace

An inclusive environment creates happier and more productive employees because they feel comfortable being a part of your organization.A study by BetterUp showed that workplace belonging can reduce turnover risk by 50%, boost job performance by 56%, and cut absenteeism by 75%. Not only do inclusive cultures bring colleagues together, but they also dismiss employee fear of rejection since connections are built up and down the organization.

diversity and inclusion planning meeting

Below are examples of how to foster an inclusive work culture.

1. Workplace flexibility

Unlike a public holiday, a floating holiday can be utilized at an employee’s discretion, like using it for an upcoming religious holiday they celebrate. This allows diverse employees not to feel pressured to take off allotted U.S. holidays, and instead, use these days to attend cultural holidays important to their own beliefs. This small, but noticeable difference in building inclusion in the workplace, may cause employees to feel more valued when flexible options are offered to them. Plus, it lets them save more of their PTO for vacation, sick days, or other personal needs.

2. Emphasize the importance of word choice

Pronouns aren’t a complicated subject, but society has conditioned us to assume “he” or “she” – which quietly lifts up the exclusionary gender binary. More recently, organizations have been encouraging gender pronouns in email signatures and Zoom bios to emphasize the importance of active allyship in inclusion efforts and diminishing their own biases.

3. Seek additional guidance from artificial intelligence

When used in the correct way, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) can foster greater inclusivity by identifying unconscious bias and classifying underlying sentiments within moments of written communications. Tools like Workhuman’s inclusion Advisor empower employees to make communication meaningful and inclusive for all employees.

inclusive language AI tool suggest edits to recognition message

Seventy-five percent of employees who use this tool will voluntarily change the wording of their messages to ensure they’re more inclusive and accepting of various individuals and the viewpoints they have to offer. Over a six-month period,74% of Merck employees chose to change their recognition message after Inclusion Advisor flagged potentially biased language.



Although progress has been made to workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, there’s always more that can be done. Leadership teams should reevaluate how to promote their diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to explore new strategies that builds a greater sense of belonging among employees and a new future of work.

Now is the time to create a real change in your organization – one that’s inclusive for everybody.