Prioritizing DEI in the Workplace

Posted 1/25/2022 in Trends by Em Wooden

Here at Candidate, we’re committed not just to fostering diversity on our own team, but also to helping employers build diverse teams. Companies of all types are becoming more aware of gaps in their approach to company culture, which has led to widespread efforts to attract and retain talented people of diverse backgrounds. This shows up in the way employers are building their candidate pipeline and the environments they create for their employees. Startups have the opportunity to approach this issue from the get-go. Whether your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts start from the ground up or are being implemented while you’re operational, here are a few things you should know.

Breaking down DEI

Diversity means that your workplace includes people from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds. The differences among your employees should include race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, socioeconomic status, and age.

Equity means that every employee has an opportunity to achieve the same outcomes. It’s important to acknowledge that some employees, especially diverse employees, may have extra obstacles to overcome in order to reach those same outcomes, so an equitable workplace will empower, support, and provide resources to ensure they experience equitable opportunity to be successful.

Inclusion means that your employees feel that they belong. They should be able to be their authentic selves while at work and feel that their managers and co-workers support them in this endeavor.

Why is DEI important?

First and foremost, making DEI a part of your workplace is just the right thing to do.  It positively impacts so many crucial components of your company, including how satisfied your employees feel–a huge factor in both hiring and retaining talented team members. 

Additionally, your company will see measurable improvements by prioritizing DEI. A survey by Drive Research found that highly inclusive companies were 120% more likely to hit their financial goals. McKinsey & Company released a report with a similar message. They found that companies with diverse executive teams were likely to financially outperform their less diverse competition, and this connection is stronger than it used to be. McKinsey concluded that inclusion and diversity should be approached from a systematic, business-led standpoint, and that companies should focus on being bolder about bolstering inclusion.

Harvard Business Review explored a handful of studies that found diverse groups to be better at focusing on and processing facts, and concluded that diverse teams are smarter than homogenous ones. The diverse groups didn’t settle for going over the facts once—they reexamined them and scrutinized each other closely throughout the process. This made them more innovative and led to the group making better decisions.

How can companies prioritize DEI?

Viktor Ihnatiuk (Founder at Boosty Labs, SNO Growth Lead at Storj Labs) emphasizes the importance of prioritizing DEI as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact minorities in a variety of ways. He believes that tech companies should start with metrics, accountability, and reporting. Ihnatiuk urges companies to review their recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices while holding themselves accountable for any potential bias. He also recommends mentoring for employees, as well as ongoing training.

Meanwhile, Catalina Colman (Director of HR and Inclusion at Built In) urges leadership to remember that “there’s no quick fix.” She warns companies against focusing solely on diversity while neglecting to consider the vital role equity and inclusion play in establishing a diverse workplace. She also suggests that a single HR employee cannot implement DEI within a company—it’s all about leaning on your community and getting a variety of perspectives.

What do DEI efforts look like at Candidate?

The Candidate team made the decision to share our DEI approach on our website even though it’s still a work in progress. There’s a lot of pressure in our current cancel-culture era to hesitate if you don’t have something exactly right, but we believe that it’s important to share our commitment to DEI. And that’s just the first step. 

We assembled an advisory board of thought leaders who can guide us as we strive to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive company. And we’re working hard to build an inclusive and diverse team as we grow, while teaching hiring managers about DEI best practices.

If you have questions about our DEI efforts or would like to learn more about joining the Candidate community, please reach out. Signup as a referrer to help refer your own network to open roles.