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Defining Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

There’s a bright light shining on inclusion these days. Companies everywhere are looking for ways to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). Inbound recruiting experts Datapeople define what those concepts really mean.

Although they’re related and the differences between them are subtle, the differences are there, says Datapeople. And while diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) appear most frequently together these days, that’s already changing. It wasn’t long ago when it was just diversity and inclusion as a pair.

According to Datapeople, it’s hard to overstate the importance of DEIB or how the concepts behind it have impacted conversations around hiring. Not long ago, job seekers didn’t really talk about corporate moral codes. They do now. Today’s job seekers expect at least some social consciousness from their employers.

And they’re not the only ones. Socially conscious investors are making investing decisions based on corporate behavior. They use a set of criteria for judging that behavior – environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. ESG standards address how companies do things like protect the environment and take care of their employees. Also how company leadership operates, including how much executives receive in pay. But these aren’t just social consciousness concerns.

Unethical behavior in any one of these areas can sink a business (think oil spill, pay discrimination suit, or huge executive pay gap). And research shows that companies with diverse workforces tend to do better than those without.

According to Datapeople, people are rethinking the relationship between employers and employees (and job seekers). So far, that relationship has operated with a different set of rules. Employees generally didn’t hold employers to the same moral code as they did family and friends. But they’re starting to now.

Diversity is the demographic makeup of a workforce and the end goal of all DEIB efforts. But it’s not just gender. The unique aspects that make one person different from another are wide-ranging. They include gender, ethnicity, physical ability, age, national origin, socioeconomic background, and religion, to name a few. Plus any possible combination of those aspects (intersectionality).

In a study, the Datapeople R&D team found that DEI statements on job postings (i.e., equal opportunity employer statements) impact the perceived inclusiveness of employers. Including a company diversity statement on job posts makes companies appear more inclusive to job seekers. It’s a pledge to DEIB and a signal to job seekers that they’ll be comfortable at a company.

Equity is the leveling of an uneven playing field. It means providing everyone with equal access to opportunity, although it doesn’t mean giving everyone the same level of help. Not all employees (or job seekers) are coming from the same level of access in the first place. If everyone was playing on an equal field, there would be no reason to adjust for inequity.

Inclusion is the environment a company fosters for candidates and employees. An inclusive workplace is one where all candidates and employees feel welcome. It provides candidates with equal opportunities for employment, success in the job, and advancement within the organization.

Although it comes third in the acronym, inclusion may be the most important factor in DEIB efforts, says Datapeople. Inclusive hiring processes will naturally yield more diverse workforces. Inclusive employment policies will naturally yield happier, more successful employees of all demographics.

An inclusive workplace is one free from bias of any kind. And there are many forms. Some are negative (and insidious), including racism, sexism, tokenism, ageism, ableism, nationalism, religious bias, and elitism. But some are positive, including affinity and similarity attraction (liking someone similar), and the halo effect (attributing positive traits that someone may not have). These can lead to a recruiter unconsciously favoring a candidate similar to them or deciding on a candidate too early, kiboshing inclusive hiring.

Belonging is the emotional state that is the goal of DEIB efforts. An organization’s inclusive processes are there to make everyone feel welcome. But for someone to feel truly welcome, they need to feel welcome exactly as they are. Candidates and employees shouldn’t have to consciously (or unconsciously) check a part of themselves at the door. They should be comfortable as themselves and feel like their coworkers are happy to have them there, just as they are.

According to Datapeople, diversity is the demographic makeup of a company and the end goal of all DEIB efforts. Equity is the leveling of an uneven playing field. Inclusion is a welcoming environment for candidates and employees of all stripes. And belonging is a feeling of comfort at an inclusive workplace.

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