Words can mean different things at different times. It is easily confusing to understand the words diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and their relevance to manufacturing. So, let’s clarify some of the common words. But first, the reality is that manufacturing has been introducing diversity into the workplace for decades, Rosie the Riveter exemplifies how six million women joined manufacturing in World War II. Jump forward to 2022 and the workforce is ever more diverse as demographic shifts reshape the workplace. This brings some challenges to leaders. It also creates incredible opportunities to create a competitive future. Let’s dive into DEI 101 for the workplace to make it understandable and implementable in your organization.
Accessibility refers to providing all individuals equal access to information, programs, and services and ensuring that accommodations and modifications are available to allow full participation. This can be accomplished by providing employees safety training in their preferred language to ensure comprehension and compliance or through a well-designed company website that considers people with disabilities like auditory, cognitive, physical, or visual to name a few, to allow them access to the company’s products or services.
Belonging describes the employee’s perceived sense of acceptance, inclusion, and being part of the team. This can be measured through employee engagement surveys or pulse surveys that reveal if employees feel they have a chance to participate and be heard, if leaders seek different perspectives when making decisions, or if everyone feels respected. Results from the survey can help you identify areas for improvement to boost employee morale, engagement, and retention.
Cultural competence is understanding and respecting another person’s values and beliefs to effectively interact with them. Cultural competence can be accomplished through learning and development trainings. Becoming competent in the culture in which you do business will help you better serve your customers and open opportunities to penetrate new markets.
Diversity means acknowledging the differences between each unique individual. When we hear the word diversity our brain automatically jumps to race, gender, age, and ethnicity because we’re inundated with information around us related to those characteristics. Diversity though, has multiple dimensions both visible and invisible traits, such as our physical appearance and abilities, our values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and more. Diversity in the workplace can be characterized by our roles in the organization, our titles, our pay, or the 5 generations working together.
Equity and Equality sound very similar, but they are not the same thing. Equality refers to giving everyone the same resources or opportunities, for example having all prospective candidates apply solely online is an example of equality. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and refers to giving someone the support they need to be successful. For example, recognizing that not every person has computer access or only has access to an application via their mobile phone, in this case, an employer can allow walk-ins or paper applications.
Inclusion requires taking action, and being intentional to dedicate time and resources to create a supportive, welcoming environment for all people to participate and reach their full potential. In the workplace, this may consist of supporting a veteran’s or women’s employee resource group, offering a mentorship program, or career development opportunities.
Almost every company has some things they are already doing around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Take time to identify what you are doing well, celebrate your successes, and build upon your current strengths. If you need help implementing DEI practices or have questions, let’s have a conversation to see how IMEC can help.