Diversity and Inclusion: Adding Equity to the Equation

Hannah Greenwood | | Change Management

diversity and inclusion needs equity to be fully effectiveIn 2020, the concept of diversity and inclusion is starting to look a little different than it did five or even ten years ago. As we've witnessed recently, issues of racial justice have again risen in public awareness around the world. In light of all that's happened, businesses and corporations are making changes to the way they approach diversity and inclusion. Many are diving deeper into how to modify company culture and who should be in charge of enforcing these changes.

For years, HR professionals have been the go-to personnel for addressing any issues in the workplace. But more recently, experts have suggested hiring diversity, equity and inclusion professionals to focus on these new policies and expectations. This position not only requires someone to enforce the new policies but to advocate for them – to be a voice for minorities in the workplace. It would be imperative for these DE&I professionals to attend important board and committee meetings as well as play a part in almost all projects, marketing and communications to make sure messaging is consistent and inclusive.

Equity vs Equality

It's a tricky – and, sometimes, controversial – distinction to grasp, but it also encapsulates where and why so many diversity and inclusion efforts can feel incomplete or stalled. Perhaps the easiest way to distinguish between equity and equality is in where action takes place. For equality, it's at the front end. Treat everyone the same from the start. And it sounds like it should be a pretty effective way to create change, but there's far more at play. For instance, treating everyone as if they have the same resources, doesn't mean they actually do. Equality at the front end, doesn't translate to equality in the end results. That's where equity comes in.

Equity focuses more on equality of the end result. It focuses on filling gaps and creating opportunities based on personal circumstances. In order to do that effectively, differences must be recognized and acknowledged. The recent shift to have diversity and inclusion efforts address equity as well has given those efforts more power to enact the changes they've been tasked with.

How New DE&I Hires May Impact HR

The new DE&I position should affect the HR department in positive ways. This job can't be rolled into another. It must have full focus and understanding of what is going on in our world today. That singular purpose will help distinguish it from more traditional HR roles. It will also play a part in redefining and clarifying HR's role moving forward.

Shifting focus of HR professionals

Choosing a Benefits Decision Support ToolWith diversity, equity and inclusion specialists on board, other HR professionals on the team can shift their focus. They'll pass important guidelines and plans on to diversity experts who can put all their effort and time into making change happen. This won't really lessen HR’s overall workload. But it will allow specialized hires or teams to take charge and dedicate their skills to this impactful role. HR departments able to highlight and delineate the specialties and responsibilities of team members can better serve their larger workforce.

Providing a different perspective

DE&I mavens come with a different perspective and can relate to the struggles racial and ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ+ and others experience on a regular basis. Their training and experience help them spot areas of concern and provide them with tools and strategies for addressing those concerns. This insight will help with developing successful corporate strategies for guiding the evolution of company culture. It brings awareness to different forms of discrimination in the workplace and helps enact the changes necessary to stop them.

HR will have an ally in the workplace

The DE&I role is really an extension of the HR department. It strengthens the force behind making changes toward an environment that's more equal for all. HR professionals are well versed in company policies and understand the culture. They're integral in helping any new DE&I person in their role to settle in, to begin forming their own opinions of the company, as well as to develop a plan of action to improve it!

The Times, They Are a Changin'

As we navigate these changes in society, businesses must learn to adapt and become educated on new diversity, equity and inclusion roles and initiatives. They must incorporate these kinds of positions into their business models to keep up with change in the world. HR professionals must combine their company knowledge with the expertise of DE&I professionals to continue to work toward the common goal.

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