DEI – Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace can greatly impact business success. And this makes DEI more than a moral issue.
I have learned from experts about diversity, equity, and inclusion that how we approach DEI and what we prioritise in DEI development varies greatly depending on which part of the world we are. Diversity, equity, and inclusion seem to be social context-driven topics, meaning that our societies highly impact where we are with it and how we approach it.
I am a white, middle-aged, middle-class entrepreneur woman hailing from Finland in the Nordics.
The North European countries have always been predominantly white with a long democratic history. Finland was the first country in Europe and second in the whole world to give women equal rights to vote.
Because we are predominantly white with a strong democratic history, we don’t have a lot of experience dealing with diversity in our societies in the Nordics. I am privileged, and it is fair to say I am, therefore, also highly biased on this topic.
But, DEI – Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace – is a fundamental topic that must be addressed and brought up to build a kinder and inclusive world of work for our children.
I need you to know, though, that I understand my lack of awareness on the topic and take a very humble angle, a learner’s angle, to discover what I can do and how I can share this important message with my audience.
For this episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, I had the pleasure of letting my former client turned friend, Heidi Pech, educate us on DEI – Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. She was the first in Finland to be appointed to develop DEI full-time in her former workplace, Futurice, a highly successful tech company.
If you are new to this podcast, my name is Susanna Rantanen. As one of the top employer branding experts and influencers globally, I’m here to inspire, educate and guide those of you who want to learn how to use branding, marketing and communications for ultimate professional success.
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7 reasons why diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is a business necessity, not just a moral imperative
I recently spoke at the She Is Tech conference about this exact topic, explaining seven key reasons why inclusiveness is a business necessity. Heidi and I touch on this angle throughout this episode, but here is a summary of the seven sales arguments helping you to win the buy-in from the top management.
- Diverse teams are more creative, better at solving complex problems, and more effective at identifying and addressing the needs of a diverse customer base. This may be a key selling point for your business regarding clients and the end users of the products you develop for them.
- By embracing diversity, companies can tap into a wider talent pool. This is crucial in industries facing skill shortages, as it allows businesses to recruit from the entire market, not just a portion.
- Workplaces that are diverse and inclusive tend to have higher job satisfaction among employees, which can lead to lower turnover rates and better retention of top talent.
- Studies have shown a correlation between gender diversity and financial performance. Companies with more diverse leadership teams often experience higher profitability and value creation.
- Lack of diversity can perpetuate biases in products and services, leading to solutions that do not adequately serve a diverse user base.
Did you know that women represent a significant portion of the consumer market? Having a workforce that reflects the diversity of your customer base can improve your understanding of consumer needs and lead to developing products and services that resonate better with your audience.
- Companies that prioritise diversity are often viewed more favourably by consumers and potential employees. This can enhance a company’s reputation, making it a more attractive place to work and do business with.
- Many countries have legal requirements for gender diversity and equal opportunity. Meeting these regulations is a moral imperative and a legal necessity to avoid penalties and reputational damage.
Key takeaways from this episode on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace
DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is a complex and evolving field that requires continuous learning and awareness.
The context of DEI varies across countries, and Nordic countries face unique challenges in understanding and implementing DEI.
Inclusion is a key aspect of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and involves creating a sense of belonging and equal opportunities for all individuals.
Unconscious bias plays a significant role in recruitment and decision-making processes, and it is important to be aware of and mitigate biases.
Creating inclusive organisations requires a culture change and the involvement of top leadership.
- More on company culture: Why employer brand gets its DNA from your company culture
- More on company culture: Why growth companies should dismiss the ‘Fun at Work’ culture
The concept of culture add, rather than culture fit, promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and allows individuals to bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the organisation.
DEI work requires setting concrete goals and measuring progress.
Inclusivity can be improved by focusing on diversity in organisational hierarchies and core functions.
Motivating people to engage in DEI work requires tying it to the organization’s overall strategy and values.
Obstacles in developing inclusivity include fear of saying the wrong thing, belief that there is no problem, and lack of commitment or understanding.
The easiest wins in developing inclusivity include integrating inclusivity into employer branding, using referral bonuses to attract diverse talent, and being authentic and transparent in communication.
Chapters in this episode
Introduction and Background
Context of DEI – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Across the World
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace in Finland
Challenges in Understanding DEI in Nordic Countries
Personal Journey and Learning about DEI
DEI – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace in the Tech Industry
DEI as a Business Advantage
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Defined
Importance of Inclusion
Unconscious Bias in Recruitment
The Journey to Inclusive Organizations
Culture Fit vs Culture Add
The Importance of Inclusion
Starting the Cultural Development Process
Job classifications and inclusivity
Challenges and goals in DEI
Setting concrete goals for inclusiveness
Diversity in organisational hierarchies
Measuring culture and inclusion
Creating buy-in and motivation
Overcoming obstacles in developing inclusivity
Easiest wins in developing inclusivity
Communicating inclusiveness in employer branding
Attracting diverse talent through inclusion
Avoiding diversity washing and being authentic
Importance of diverse perspectives in DEI discussions
About DEI – Diversity, equity and inclusion expert Heidi Pech
Heidi Pech is an independent DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) advisor, speaker and consultant. She previously worked as Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Futurice, doing pioneer work as one of Finland’s first in-house DEI leaders.
At Futurice, Heidi built and executed an award-winning DEI strategy and spearheaded culture change towards a more inclusive and equitable company. She found her sense of purpose and true professional calling in DEI. She realised that she wanted to apply her first-hand experience and learnings to make a wider impact in society, and therefore founded her business to help a larger number of organisations become more inclusive.
Prior to working with DEI she has tipped her toes in various areas of HR over the last 20 years, always focusing in development in one way or another.
In addition to her expertise in diversity & inclusion, she has a solid background in employer branding, talent acquisition, organisational culture, learning and leadership development from diverse sectors (such as technology, pharmaceutical, banking and not-for-profit) in Finland and abroad. She has a degree in broadcast journalism from the UK.
Book and reading recommendations on diversity, equity and inclusion by Heidi Pech
Carolina Criado Perez
Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
DEI Deconstructed analyses how current methods and “best practices” leave marginalised people feeling frustrated and unconvinced of their leaders’ sincerity and offers a roadmap that bridges the neatness of theory with the messiness of practice.
Through embracing a pragmatic DEI approach drawing from cutting-edge research on organisational change, evidence-based practices, and incisive insights from a DEI strategist with experience working from the top-down and bottom-up alike, stakeholders at every level of an organization can become effective DEI changemakers.