DEI: In Search of Knowledge Opportunity and Allyship

DEI: In Search of Knowledge Opportunity and Allyship

“I do believe that once we get to know each other, once we start to have conversations, some of which may be very uncomfortable, some of which may be coming from a different point of view, once we entertain our different points of view and diversity of opinion, a diversity in the work population will then follow suit”. Mr Gee – Poet and Broadcaster.

Listen to understand

Engaging in conversations about DEI, (diversity, equity and inclusion), is how we are likely to create workplaces where talented people can do great work because of what makes them different; so long as people feel listened to and understood. 

Creating an environment where people want to talk isn’t always straight forward. NKD ran a public survey recently with some surprising results:

17% said, “I feel comfortable to be myself at work”

47% feel they have been treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic

43% feel underrepresented at work

57% have experienced microaggressions and only 29% said they’d feel comfortable reporting incidents of othering

Making progress 

From ignorance to enlightenment, when it comes to DEI, you will have a view about the culture where you work. Regardless of your company’s DEI maturity, it’s probably true to say that no individual is the finished article. Talking about DEI starts with an open mind – we all have beliefs and biases that are worth exploring and it’s possible to broaden the lens through which we view diversity, equity and inclusion.

For teams, elevating understanding and connection between people leads to respectful and productive ways of working together that help people reach their potential and enjoy coming to work.

For leaders, conversations about DEI provide the insight and collaboration to make well-informed and confident business decisions that impact positive change for employees and customers.

There exists a collective curiosity, courage, and desire for change in most workplaces but not always a collective understanding of what DEI mean, leaving some people unsure about “what’s in it for me”.

Back to Basics

So, it’s sometimes worth going back to basics to get everyone on the same page about what DEI mean and why they are important. This is how we describe DEI at NKD:

  1. What does Diversity mean?
  • Diversity appreciates that we all have a full range of visible and invisible identities, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability, religion, language, and neurodiversity. 
  • We have different DNA, come from different social backgrounds, and have had different life experiences that have shaped who we are today.

What does Diversity mean for you?

  • Diversity means valuing the person you are. 
  • Diversity is about being respected and represented.

Why is Diversity important at work?

  • With diversity comes knowledge.
  • Knowledge gives teams and companies the breadth and depth of information they need to make better decisions for their employees and their customers.

2. What does Equity mean?

  • Equity means fairness.
  • Equity is about fairness. It is about treating people fairly and not discriminating. 
  • Equity is about treating people according to their specific needs and avoiding a one sized-fits all approach
  • This is not the same as ‘equality’ which means treating everybody the same.

Why does Equity mean for you?

  • Equity acknowledges diversity and difference and seeks to make the workplace – and the world – a place where everyone has a place.

Why is Equity important at work?

  • Equity brings opportunity to more people by removing barriers to success
  • Opportunity means more people are empowered to reach their potential at work, with teams benefiting from diverse talent.

3. What does Inclusion mean?

  • Inclusion is about being and feeling included. 
  • Inclusion means acknowledging the richness of our unique lived experiences and leveraging those skills and perspectives to build a culture of openness, learning and empowerment.

What does Inclusion mean for you?

  • It’s about showing up, having a place, and feeling like you belong. 
  • To be inclusive, we must appreciate one and other’s differences and similarities, because these are the things that make us unique. 
  • Doing so, gives people room where they can show up as their most authentic and unafraid self.

Why is Inclusion important at work?

  • Inclusivity brings allyship into work.
  • People can form genuine bonds with the people they will ultimately spend most of their week with.
  • Inclusive workplaces feel psychologically safe without any fear of negative consequences.

The reason we use these descriptions of DEI is that they provide an intent for DEI conversations that is hard to disagree with. 

Your company has probably made huge progress over the past few years – in many ways the pandemic and The Great Resignation have forced inclusive policies. But if it feels like a piece of the puzzle is missing, try going back to basics and use these definitions to reconnect people with why DEI needs to be talked about and build confidence to speak candidly to each other about their own experiences and opinions.

“We are people first and foremost. We all deserve to be treated fairly, equitably and with respect. DEI is the right thing to do, not just for business but for humanity. The more we look outside of ourselves and choose to support others, the better the workplace (and world) will be.” 
Tolulope Oke, Ethnicity Awards Future Leader Winner 2020

If you want to find out about our DEI learning and leadership toolkit, get in touch here.