Are your workplace DEI initiatives resulting in positive, lasting change?
In a complex, shifting, globalised workplace environment, DEI initiatives matter more than ever. Initiatives need to take concrete steps to create an accepting, respectful, fair environment that truly values diversity. Successful DEI initiatives have a direct impact on employee engagement, increasing employer net promoter scores, retention and decreasing sick leave. Discover three crucial ways DEI initiatives enhance employee engagement and practical strategies to ensure DEI initiatives have a positive impact on employee engagement in your organisation.
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Workplace DEI isn't just a corporate checkbox; it's about taking concrete steps to create an environment where employees truly accept and value diversity, individuals feel respected and included and there is fair treatment, access, and advancement opportunities for all.
Today, DEI initiatives matter more than ever: complex and shifting markets, challenges in talent attraction and retention, changing workforce demographics and increasing globalisation mean increasingly diverse workforces. What’s more, evolving social norms mean that employees expect organisations to take responsibility for building an equitable and inclusive workforce.
And DEI initiatives have a direct impact on employee engagement. The statistics speak for themselves: 50% reduction in turnover risk, 75% decrease in sick days and 167% in employer net promoter score.
Discover three crucial ways DEI initiatives enhance employee engagement and practical strategies to ensure DEI initiatives have a positive impact on employee engagement in your organisation.
1. DEI initiatives fuel a sense of belonging
Ever noticed power of feeling valued, accepted, and included regardless of your background, perspectives, or differences?
When employees feel connected, respected and appreciated, they know they are an integral part of the workplace community and have a strong sense of belonging to the organisation.
DEI initiatives foster a sense of belonging in the workplace by creating an inclusive environment where employees from diverse backgrounds can feel a genuine sense of connection. With this connection, employees are more motivated, emotionally invested and have increased commitment to their organisation.
Which DEI initiatives and practices enhance belonging and boost engagement?
#1 Reducing bias
Increasing awareness about biases isn’t enough. Only by actively reducing bias can individuals feel accepted for their differences, not judged or treated differently based on inherent or implicit prejudices.
Regularly review and audit hiring, promotion, and evaluation processes to identify and address potential biases. Implement systems for promptly detecting, monitoring and addressing bias incidents.
Update brand and communication guidelines to include use of inclusive language in job descriptions, company communications and meetings to avoid unintentional biases. Implement learning programmes on unconscious bias, communication and intercultural skills which provide tools and develop skills that result in real change.
#2 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
ERGs are where individuals with shared backgrounds or experiences can connect and be heard. ERGs offer more than friendship: they provide a safe space, a supportive network and foster a sense of belonging and community among groups of employees.
A Women in Leadership ERG can pave the way for women to share knowledge and experience and support each other on their professional journeys. And a Cultural Diversity ERG can deepen cross-cultural understanding, fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are embraced and celebrated.
Case study: Capgemini:
Capgemini's Employee Network Groups (ENGs) have organically evolved since 2007, blossoming into global networks centred on Gender, LGBT+, Disability (including Neurodiversity), and Ethnicity. Recently formalised as part of Capgemini's Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Strategy, these ENGs represent an integral part of fostering an inclusive culture and empowering diverse teams. Their impact has been substantial, fostering collaboration, efficiency, and broader market adoption.
ENGs have notably contributed to employee engagement, with a 10% increase in retention rates, demonstrating the power of fostering connections and collaboration, and the mutual benefits of empowering ENGs for both volunteers and the business.
2. DEI initiatives cultivate trust
What exactly does it mean to trust your organisation?
Trust is employees’ confidence in and reliance on their organisation. It goes beyond emotions; it's an assurance of others' integrity, capabilities, and commitments. Built on consistent, fair, and transparent actions by the organisation, it cultivates an environment where individuals feel secure, respected, and appreciated.
DEI initiatives bolster trust by championing equal opportunities, nurturing inclusion, and confronting biases. This trust motivates employees to actively engage, contribute meaningfully, and align themselves with the organisation's objectives and mission. Research by Deloitte reports a positive correlation between diversity practices, trust, and employee engagement.
How do DEI initiatives and practices enhance trust and boost engagement?
#1 Leadership commitment to DEI
Leaders’ actions are critical to trust. Actions, not just words. When senior management and team leads genuinely champion DEI and it underpins everything they do, they send a clear signal that these principles are a core part of the organisation's identity.
This fosters an environment where employees feel valued, respected and included, enhancing trust.
#2 Inclusive recruitment practices
Implementing inclusive recruitment practices creates an equitable platform where all individuals, regardless of their background, have an equal opportunity to be considered for positions.
Streamline job descriptions to highlight essential skills and qualifications while eliminating unnecessary barriers or biases. Remove personal information from job applications and develop a structured interview process so all candidates are fairly evaluated on their skills and suitability for the role. Ensure interview panels are diverse to minimise biases and offer varied perspectives during candidate evaluations.
Transparency is no longer desirable; it’s essential.
When criteria, processes and decisions are clear and openly communicated, it provides employees insights, fosters transparency and enhances trust.
Openly share criteria and procedures used in decisions about promotions, compensation structures, project assignments, and performance evaluations. This commitment to transparency empowers employees with a deeper understanding of how their careers and contributions are valued, reinforcing trust throughout the workplace.
Case study: ASML
ASML’s DEI initiatives aim to foster a diverse, inclusive culture that establishes a safe environment in which employees can flourish. These include recruiting diverse talent from underrepresented backgrounds, implementing diverse interview panels and engaging leaders to demonstrate their commitment and accountability by setting an example and creating environments that promote inclusion within their teams and across the organisation.
Their worldwide employee surveys show they have achieved an inclusion score of 82% and are on track to meet targets for 2025.
3. DEI initiatives nurture career growth
Career paths and development opportunities play a pivotal role in engaging employees. When team members can clearly see avenues for growth, access training programmes tailored to their aspirations, and benefit from mentorship, it fosters a sense of value and motivation. In fact, in a poll conducted by the British Council, career growth emerged as the top-ranking factor influencing employee engagement, with 30% of respondents choosing this option.
DEI initiatives serve as catalysts for career growth by fostering an inclusive environment where individuals feel valued and supported regardless of their background. Embracing diversity not only unlocks opportunities for professional development but also fuels a sense of belonging that inspires employees to advance and thrive in their careers.
Which DEI initiatives and practices nurture careers and boost engagement?
#1 Succession planning
Organisations committed to diversity, equity and inclusion recognise the importance of creating diverse leadership pipelines. Identify and cultivate diverse talent for future leadership roles, ensuring you have a diverse leadership pipeline and emphasising equal opportunity. By nurturing talent and promoting the inclusion of underrepresented individuals, you are sending out a powerful message: leadership roles are open to all regardless of background.
#2 Mentoring and promotion
Continually build a work environment where employees have more confidence in their possibility to progress, raising their aspirations. Mentoring for underrepresented employees is effective for career development as it leads to further opportunities through the skills, knowledge and contacts gained during the relationship.
#3 Diversity in leadership teams
‘You, too, can do it’ is the core message when diverse leadership teams are the norm. It sparks motivation and determination to succeed when diverse employees see leaders from similar backgrounds who may have faced similar obstacles achieve career growth through hard work and dedication What’s more, diverse leadership teams cultivate a sense of belonging among employees from underrepresented backgrounds, creating a more inclusive work environment.
Case study: SIEMENS
Siemens initiated their 'Accelerate-Europe' programme to bolster the succession pipeline for senior roles with female employees, aiming to enhance gender diversity in senior management. The programme identified and developed women mid-career, offering coaching-led interventions, career support and workshops on critical career topics.
Approximately 25% of participants were incorporated into the succession pipeline for vital roles, demonstrating to other employees that career growth is possible.
Increasing inclusivity and engagement will continue to be of ongoing importance in coming years as market and environmental shifts continue to accelerate. As we look ahead, it’s crucial that DEI initiatives can make a lasting impact through concrete steps and action.
How will you ensure your organisation’s DEI initiatives enhance employee engagement?
British Council has over 80 years’ experience of partnering with diverse organisations and individuals in over 200 countries. We are committed to building connections, understanding and trust in the global community.
Partner with us to create learning initiatives to upskill your teams in intercultural skills, EQ and interpersonal skills and drive a more inclusive culture in your organisation.