Company culture and DEI are often considered two separate initiatives; however, they do in fact impact each other profoundly.
According to a report from LinkedIn Talent Solutions as reported by SHRM, 1 in 4 job seekers in 2021 said DEI is the most important area of investment to improve company culture: “boosting DE&I efforts to create a more diverse workforce helps employers build a dynamic relationship with employees”.
In the article, Risha Grant, an award-winning DE&I speaker and expert based in Tulsa, Okla, shares, “A strong DE&I presence creates a culture where employees feel empowered to be authentic and bring new ideas based on their unique knowledge and experiences. You will not have a good company culture if DE&I is not present.”
Traditionally, companies create a culture and find people to fit within that culture. When a DEI initiative is incorporated but the culture and ethos of an organization doesn’t change, the company can create a confusing environment that can alienate employees and ultimately destroy what was once a thriving workplace.
Company leaders and managers need to be aware of how DEI impacts culture and vice versa. Considering how the company culture can embrace DEI values is the first step to ensuring that the culture is aligned with the DEI goals and efforts.
The LaSalle Network provided tips for improving a company’s overall culture:
- Focus on career development. Investing in employee development is a direct reflection of a company’s investment in employees. Employees who achieve their learning goals are more likely to use those skills to support the company.
- Enhance communication. Constructive and consistent feedback allows employees to continue to grow. Routine conversations about performance keep employees engaged with the company.
- Establish a clear set of values. Educating employees on values helps them connect better with the company and understand their role in the organization.
In the SHRM article, Alana Elston, chief people officer at the architecture firm McKissack & McKissack in Washington, D.C., said inspirational leadership is an important aspect of creating a diverse company and enhancing its culture and that an organization comprised of mostly employees from similar backgrounds does not foster a thriving, engaging environment.
“Employees must feel inspired to do their best work, and that comes from management, mentorship and leadership,” Elston said. “People must be in an environment where they feel inspired. They must come to the table feeling inspired.”
When leaders and managers approach culture and DEI in a comprehensive way that includes perspectives of employees from all levels, not just management, they not only ensure their culture evolves to support and embrace DEI, but also fosters an authentic, engaging culture that respects and values its employees.
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