Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: Why are they on the agenda?

Before we tackle the trends in diversity, equity and inclusion, let’s look at what each concept means.

Dr. Robert Sellers, CDO (Chief Diversity Officer) –yes, you’re not misreading– at the University of Michigan explains the difference between diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • Diversity is when everyone is invited to a party.
  • Equity is when everyone contributes to the choice of the music list.
  • Inclusion is when everyone has the opportunity to dance.

Isn’t it fun and simple?


Definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion

Let’s not be content with Dr.Sellers’ explanation and examine the standard definitions of these three concepts.

Diversity is the presence of differences in a particular environment.  In a workplace, this usually refers to the psychological, physical and social differences that occur between all individuals. We can say that communities and organizations that include people with various social and cultural characteristics have diversity. 

Equity means that everyone in a society or organisation is treated equally, given equal opportunities and equal rights for development.  The principle of equity aims to remove all kinds of barriers that prevent some individuals or groups from fully participating in the environment in question.

Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to how people with different characteristics and social identities feel as part of a larger group. Just because you have achieved diversity in your organisation does not mean that you are inclusive. You may have a team of diverse traits, talents or identities, but what is expected from inclusion is that everyone is welcomed, valued and feels part of the group.


Why are diversity, equity and inclusion important?

The reason why these concepts are used intertwined, why the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion trilogy is briefly referred to as DEI in the literature and found so important is the set of advantages that arise when they are all present at the same time. In 2020, a large-scale study conducted by McKinsey & Company and SHRM evaluated the performance of companies with different levels of workplace diversity. Overall, the study pointed to two important facts:  Gender and ethnically diverse companies are 15% and 35% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts, respectively.

Organisations with greater racial and gender diversity generate more sales revenue, more customers and higher profits.

Today, when economic indicators are alarming almost everywhere in the world, every company needs this success that comes with diversity, equity and inclusion.

Moreover, through diversity, equity and inclusion;

– having a wide range of perspectives and experiences,

– better understanding and meeting the needs of different customer groups,

– creating a more open communication network,

– a wider and more qualified pool of applicants through a more open recruitment policy,

– an inclusive work culture to attract and, more importantly, retain talented people will be possible.


Diversity, equity, inclusion and employee engagement

Companies with a holistic people management strategy evaluate this result as follows: Employees are more engaged in diverse environments, where everyone has access to equal conditions and where they feel a sense of belonging.  This is because there is a fairer and safer corporate atmosphere in these environments.

The results of different studies are consistent with each other and reveal the corporate approach to diversity, equity and inclusion:

  • 74% of millennials believe their organisation is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion.1
  • 79% of organisations say that fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace is crucial to their success over the course of a year.2
  • 25% of employees see comfort as the biggest driver of belonging; they want to feel treated fairly and to be able to bring their true selves to work.3
  • 67% of job seekers said workforce diversity is important when evaluating job offers.4
  • More than 86% of job seekers say workplace diversity is an important factor when looking for a job.5



The Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) -1

Deloitte – Belonging From comfort to connection to contribution -2.3-

Glassdoor – What Job Seekers Really Think About Your Diversity and Inclusion Stats – 4

ZipRecruiter – 5