A workplace that includes, welcomes, and embraces everyone is a productive and happy one. But achieving that standard is challenging for many companies. That’s why they’ve implemented DEI programs — but they’re missing a key element. DEIB is the new standard for workplaces that want to allow everyone to be their fullest, truest selves at work, to allow everyone to thrive and deliver their best work.
What is DEIB?
But what exactly is DEIB? Most of us have heard a lot about DEI — Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. DEIB, on the other hand, is pretty new, but it’s growing rapidly as a new way of thinking about building an inclusive workplace. Let’s break DEIB down into its four parts: diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Diversity is the best-known of the DEIB elements. With a diverse organization, you have a wide range of people of all races, gender identities, ages, sexual orientations, physical abilities, religions, and more. This includes historically underrepresented groups and also applies generally to viewpoints, life experiences, and so on.
But merely having a diverse workforce doesn’t mean everyone feels welcomed and heard (more on that later).
Equity goes one step past diversity to ensure that everyone in the workplace receives fair treatment and equal access to resources, recognition, and promotions. This includes having pay parity at all levels of the organization, a diverse leadership team, and accessibility and accommodations for all employees. After all, merely having diverse teams isn’t enough if opportunities for everyone are not equal.
Fairness is also not quite enough to ensure that your workplace culture is healthy for everyone at your organization — you also need to ensure employees feel welcomed and valued by everyone around them. That’s the goal of inclusion, which aims to give people a sense of psychological safety for all team members and a voice that’s valued and heard.
And finally, the B in DEIB — belonging! It’s a new addition to DEI initiatives and it completes the whole picture. Belonging is critical because it means employees want to bring their full selves to work, knowing they will be valued and celebrated for doing so. It creates positive, powerful relationships between people of all levels that benefit your organization.
DEI vs. DEIB, Inclusion vs. Belonging
While DEIB has four distinct parts, it’s not about checking a box to tick each one off and immediately reap the rewards of a diverse and inclusive workplace. It’s about creating an equitable, inclusive, welcoming environment for every person in your organization so they want to stay and contribute.
And the difference between DEI and DEIB might seem like just one letter — that added B in the acronym — but that one letter adds up to a whole different mindset. DEIB isn’t just about metrics that make sure you have the right mix of people, but about making sure you’re purposefully cultivating a culture of belonging. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the foundation for that, and belonging ties it all together.
Inclusion and belonging can also seem very similar, on the surface. And while they do have a lot in common, inclusion is about taking action — calling on someone who is usually quiet in a meeting to hear their opinion, or offering extensive onboarding and mentorship processes to help everyone get the support they need, or other efforts to help employees feel valued and safe.
Belonging, however, is a feeling — and it’s a feeling that those inclusive efforts bring about. When employees see the work your company is putting into their wellbeing at work via DEIB initiatives, and sense the change in mindset taking place, they’re more likely to feel safe, welcomed, and accepted.
Why a Sense of Belonging Matters at Work
Why does it matter that employees feel they belong at their workplace? After all, isn't diversity and fairness enough to ensure everyone feels good at work? Well, the most inclusive environments ensure that your people avoid that isolating sense of not fitting in, not feeling at home, and not feeling welcome to bring every part of themselves to work.
If they’re holding back on sharing key parts of their lives, experiences, and identities, that feeling of loneliness may lead them to look for another company where they do fit in. A sense of belonging enhances employee retention — people are more likely to stay at organizations where they feel accepted —- and employee engagement as well.
How to Create an Effective DEIB Strategy
Creating your own DEIB strategy can seem intimidating — and indeed, creating a culture of belonging is not something you can tackle in six easy steps, or accomplish in a few months. It takes sustained effort and commitment. But it’s very possible, and it’s also essential if you want to create an innovative and energized workplace.
First, having a leadership team in place that reflects the diverse makeup of your organization is important. It allows everyone to see people who reflect themselves have a powerful role and a strong voice in decision-making.
It’s also vital to ensure employees at all levels feel that their opinions and feedback matter. But most organizations are lacking when it comes to ensuring employees feel their voices are heard and valued. According to Gallup, only three in ten US employees feel their opinions count in their workplace. Looking for ways to collect — and, most critically, act on — employee feedback is essential to cultivating an inclusive environment and a sense of belonging at work.
Having a strong suite of employee resource groups (ERGs) can also build a stronger sense of community in your organization, and provide a way for employees from all kinds of backgrounds to gain leadership experience and give a voice to their own life experiences both within the ERGs and in the company as a whole.
Also, make sure your recognition and awards programs are free of unconscious bias. Celebrate all kinds of employees for all kinds of accomplishments and show that you truly value everyone’s contributions, not just the same small group of similar people.
And finally, ensure you’re regularly tracking the most critical DEIB metrics so you know where your organization stands now, and where you need to go in the future, with your DEIB goals. With a strong strategy in place, you can create a company culture that’s truly equitable, inclusive, and offers a strong sense of belonging for everyone. Doesn’t that sound like a place you’d love to work? Your top talent likely feels the same.
Looking for a platform to help you recognize and reward employees, boost employee engagement, and gather employee feedback so their voices are heard? Cooleaf does all that and more — book a free demo today to see how it can work for you.