DEI initiative examples in the workplace

Jun 12, 2024

When DEI is included in the fabric of organizational culture, it can provide a wide range of positive outcomes. In addition, DEI initiatives provide all employees with tangible examples of how diversity and inclusion are supported and valued. Read on for some real-life examples from Circles and our parent company, Sodexo.

(Part three of a three-part series. Here is part one and part two.)

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have become common for businesses of all types and sizes, and across all industries, in recent years. Whether falling to the HR team, or a newly appointed Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) leader, these initiatives are designed to help organizations attract and retain a diverse workforce dedicated to contributing their passion and expertise to the success of the organization.

Savvy organizations know that when DEI is included in the fabric of their culture it can provide a wide range of positive outcomes.

Inspiration and Role Modeling

Your employees are all diverse. Each brings to their job a wide range of personal and professional passions and experiences. While diversity tends to be thought of as focused on physical characteristics like age, sex, race, and ethnicity, in truth diversity also reflects diversity of education, values, and viewpoints.

DEI initiatives provide employees — all employees — with tangible examples of how diversity and inclusion are supported and valued. When they see real-life examples of DEI in action, they can be inspired and motivated to become champions of diversity and inclusion themselves. These initiatives serve as models for employees, showing them what’s possible and encouraging them to contribute to a more inclusive workplace.

Awareness and Understanding

DEI initiatives support awareness and understanding of how different perspectives, experiences, and identities contribute to a thriving workplace. By witnessing DEI initiatives in action, employees are more aware and gain greater understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented individuals and the importance of creating inclusive environments.

When employees see firsthand the value that diverse backgrounds and perspectives can bring to business challenges and decisions, they understand the importance of supporting an environment where all viewpoints and perspectives are valued and honored. This awareness fosters empathy, respect, and cultural competence among the entire workforce.

Educational Opportunities

An important part of DEI initiatives is the training and educational opportunities provided. Educational programs, workshops, and training sessions can be designed to increase awareness, understanding, and learning about diversity and inclusion.

These educational resources provide employees with opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills related to DEI — helping to minimize unconscious bias, boost cultural competency, and build inclusive leadership. DEI educational offerings help employees develop critical skills and insights that can enhance their performance while contributing to an inclusive work environment.

Education can be especially important for leaders, managers, and supervisors. For instance, Circles provides unconscious bias training for hiring managers can help to mitigate the influences of the unconscious biases we all have. These biases can impact hiring decisions. By raising awareness, managers can make more objective and fair assessments of candidates, ensuring that their hiring decisions are based on merit — not stereotypes or flawed assumptions.

Collaboration and Teamwork

When employees understand and respect each other, they build collaboration and cohesive teams. DEI initiatives help to foster collaboration and teamwork among diverse groups of employees by creating awareness, building trust, and respecting individuals’ differences.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a great example of this. ERGs, or diversity councils, bring together individuals from different backgrounds to work together. By participating in these initiatives, employees have opportunities to collaborate with colleagues who have different perspectives and experiences.

Companies are leveraging their ERGs to bring employees together for learning and socialization. For instance, Circles helped one of our global biotech companies celebrate the Chinese New Year. Our on-site community manager planned, set-up and coordinated both the event itself and the post event activities. The festivities offered opportunities for cultural exchange, education, and appreciation and were a great way to promote understanding and respect for different traditions and customers.

ERGs and the activities they promote can help build more inclusive work relationships and improved teamwork which can contribute to business success.

Don’t take teamwork for granted, though. It’s important to provide training for employees to help them build inclusive teams. Inclusivity training for teams, especially for teams facing challenges, builds understanding and empathy — and guides strong collaboration.

Personal and Professional Growth

Personal and professional growth is important to today’s employees. In fact, CNBC reports that employees are “willing to look elsewhere if their current bosses fail to provide” the L&D opportunities they’re looking for.

Mentoring programs and leadership development initiatives that focus on diversity and inclusion can help support career advancement for underrepresented individuals. Engaging in these initiatives provides employees with an opportunity to expand their networks, gain new skills, and increase their visibility in the organization.

Learning doesn’t have to be limited to work-related skill development. Many of our clients ask us to provide them with information about community cultural events around different holidays. Identifying and sharing this type of community culture information demonstrates a commitment to embracing diversity that extends beyond the workplace. This gives employees the opportunity to engage with the broader community,  and fosters connections and understanding between different cultural groups.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sodexo/Circles

Sodexo, Circles’ parent company, has Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs) that reach a wide range of people across the organization to foster communication, build community and inspire collaboration. EBRG programs and activities in 2023 were attended by 6536 participants. Sodexo supports U.S. employees with new mentorship programs for Hispanic refugees. Leaders from Sodexo’s PRIDE EBRG have come together to talk about inclusivity, authenticity, and allyship in the workplace. To honor veterans and military service members, Sodexo’s HONOR EBRG encourages employees to wear red on the first Friday of every month and to advocate for veterans in their communities.

Sodexo has nine EBRGs designed to foster a culture of inclusion across the broad range of differences that reflect the diversity of its employees. Your organization likely has an equally broad range of employee differences that can be celebrated and supported through a variety of DEI initiatives.

There are many ways that organizations can share information to help boost their DEI efforts and build a strong culture of inclusion. Sharing educational content through Teams, internal newsletters, and your intranet, for instance, can enhance workplace culture by fostering awareness, understanding, and dialogue around DEI topics. Regularly sharing educational resources and fostering discussions around DEI can promote a culture of continuous learning and growth, while encouraging employees to expand their perspectives. We’ve seen positive interactions and reflections take place in our DEI Teams channel over the years. You can champion these same kinds of impacts in your organization.

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