Bona Fide Conglomerate Inc.

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DEI: What’s Next for Inclusion in 2024?

As powerful business leaders like Elon Musk and Mark Cuban argue whether Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is inherently racist in some way, the bottom line is that DEI roles have been disappearing.  This is a big worry for workers with disabilities, because it might mean fewer chances for them to get good jobs.

Back in 2020, when companies like Google said they would get better at including different kinds of people, many got their hopes up. This began to look like a trend that would mean more openings for folks with disabilities. But then, last year, there was a lot of pushback against DEI initiatives. Some even arguing that DEI was causing “reverse discrimination,” and leading to lawsuits.  Last year, many big tech companies started to drop their DEI programs, making it seem like DEI was on its way out.

DEI Cuts Lead to Big Question

This isn’t something we wanted to hear, but we have to deal with it and ask: What do we do now?

The idea of treating everyone fairly and giving them equal chances is still the right thing to do. Even with all the ups and downs of the economy, it’s important that people with all types of backgrounds can find steady work.

Business leaders still have a chance to make sure their workplaces care about diversity and fairness.  To Mark Cuban’s point, keeping a balanced view about the principle goals of DEI initiatives is more helpful than arguing over diversity quotas or politics.  At it’s heart, DEI is about making sure that there aren’t any hidden biases in a company’s hiring or management processes.  This ensures that companies have access to as many qualified people as possible.

Unfortunately, bias is historically widespread towards people with disabilities.  Even if they are overqualified for a position, misplaced concerns over how their disability could impact their job performance often keeps them from being considered for good jobs.

Inclusion as a Culture

“Inclusion means that people with disabilities have the opportunity to participate to the fullest extent at work,” states Tina Tyko, a Disability Advocate for over 26 years. “That is an idea, a standard, a culture. Leaders create culture, they shouldn’t necessarily need a specific job role to remind them of that.”

Tina is an advocate for fairness and empathy, not just rules and hiring quotas.

Improving DEI Principles in the Workplace

“Improving DEI in a company’s culture isn’t just about policies and hiring practices; it’s about creating an environment where every employee feels valued and understood,” Tina says.  Here are some practical tips to enhance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in your company:

  1. Encourage Open Dialogue:
    – Create safe spaces for employees to express concerns and share experiences regarding diversity and inclusion.
    – Hold regular meetings or forums where diversity topics can be discussed openly.
  2. Diverse Hiring Language:
    – Be mindful to use language in job postings that displays an openness to all types of people.
    – Reach out to a variety of job boards and communities to attract a wide range of candidates.
  3. Inclusive Leadership Training:
    – Provide training for managers and team leaders on guarding against unconscious bias.
    – Encourage leaders to set a tone of inclusion and respect within their teams.
  4. Education and Awareness Programs:
    – Offer workshops and seminars that educate employees on discrimination and inclusion.
    – Make resources easily accessible to all employees.
  5. Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs:
    – Pair employees from underrepresented groups with mentors who can provide guidance and support.
    – Create sponsorship opportunities to help propel diverse talent into leadership positions.
  6. Promote Work-Life Balance:
    – Recognize different needs and offer flexible working arrangements to accommodate them.
    – Implement policies that support parental leave, flexible shifts, and mental health days.
  7. Listen to Employee Feedback:
    – Conduct surveys and suggestions boxes that allow for anonymous feedback.
    – Act on feedback and show employees that their voices have led to real changes.
  8. Empower Employee Resource Groups (ERGs):
    – Support the creation and activities of ERGs for various minority groups within your company.
    – Encourage participation from all levels of the organization in these groups.
  9. Accessible Work Environment:
    – Ensure that your workplace is physically and technologically accessible to people with disabilities.
    – Provide reasonable accommodations to those who need them to thrive in their roles.
  10. Zero Tolerance for Discrimination:
    – Have strict, clear policies against any form of discrimination or harassment.
    – Ensure there is a straightforward process for reporting and addressing issues.
  11. Recognition and Growth Opportunities:
    – Recognize the work of employees from all backgrounds.
    – Ensure that promotion and development opportunities are equitably available.
  12. Lead by Example:
    – Senior leadership must embody the principles of DEI in their actions and decisions.
    – Share stories of leadership’s commitment to inclusivity to set an example for the rest of the company.

By implementing these steps, a company can work towards a more inclusive culture where diversity is celebrated, and everyone feels respected and empowered to contribute to their fullest potential.

These tips could be a gentle nudge for all of us to remember people who often get left out, this year and beyond.

In the end, it’s not about the title or the label—it’s about how we all work together to make sure everyone is treated well and has the same chances at work. Leaders now need to take charge and make sure this ideal doesn’t get lost, even if the official job position for those enforcing DEI does get abandoned.