An expert shares her thoughts on why companies need to start thinking more seriously about DEI policies
We recently talked to Nessa Maguire, founder and CEO of EudaOrg. Since 2021, the company has been focused on developing a fully integrated tech platform that allows companies to better foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. Headquartered in Ireland, EudaOrg has a presence in Europe and the US, but aims to expand to helping companies on a more global scale. In this post, Maguire details just what a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace would look like before explaining why there’s been such a push towards introducing this type of culture in offices around the world.
Before one can even begin the discussion of why there’s been such a global push towards introducing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, it’s vital to understand what the terms actually mean. As a forewarning, numerous terms get thrown around interchangeably amongst organizations in the world. The reason for this is that the term is in constant evolution to fit in with ever-changing cultural, organizational, and individual norms. In an effort to be in line with Maguire’s expertise, for this post the words diversity, equity, and inclusion will be used.
What Is Diversity?
On a basic level, diversity refers to having a diverse range of individuals in an organization. To be more specific, a diverse range encompasses everything from gender, ethnicity, religion, neurodiversity, as well as diversity in lived experiences and thought.
More so than this, diversity must be considered through an intersectional lens. An example of this thinking would be something like rather than grouping women as homogenous, you recognize the individual experience of every woman. Afterall, the lived experience of a 45 year old mother of two is completely different from that of a 25 year old single lady.
What Is Inclusion?
Inclusion refers to the general sense of feeling included. More a feeling than anything, this just means that everyday an individual comes into work, they feel like they can be themselves and be accepted.
What Is Equity?
A simple example of equity is wearing glasses. If I wear glasses, it doesn’t mean I have an unfair advantage over you. It means we both have what we need to participate and achieve. It’s crucial workplaces fight to be equitable places so everyone has the same opportunities to succeed.
Now we have a clearer definition of each term, let’s focus on the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion around the world, as well as a few ways Maguire and EudaOrg are helping spread the word on the subject.
How Have EudaOrg Helped So Far?
- Production of the first customisable, evidence-based business management software for in-house DEI teams.
- By collaborating with actual DEI teams, EudaOrg has fostered a user-centric approach to product development. Features of their software include: easy-to-use assessments and growth metrics, downloadable email and communication templates, easy-to-follow customizable action plans.
1. Why Is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion So Important?
While we’ve defined DEI’s and touched upon the work EudaOrg has done so far, you still might be wondering why the topic is so important for businesses. The fact is, over the last five years, there’s been a 71% increase in DEI roles worldwide. Besides that, in 2022, a DEI manager was the 2nd fastest growing role in the USA. Stats like these point to a future where workplaces advocate for colleagues and support a diverse workforce. However, when the conversation switches to talk of actual spending, opinion can become divided.
In 2022, organizations spent a total of $9.3 billion globally on DEI, with the number set to grow to $15.4 billion by 2026. Despite the real benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, when that number is revealed Maguire understands how companies might balk at the idea of spending for DEI. This is why the ability of EudaOrg’s technology to quantify the change investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion can make is so valuable. By teaming up with the company, diversity and inclusion professionals can build a boutique DEI action plan that allows them to turn to their leadership with actual data. Such a plan only takes a few minutes to assemble, as opposed to the past where professionals might’ve spent weeks generating an Excel report. Ultimately, this makes it possible to justify money spent on the sector as it showcases real improvements within an organization.
2. The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Europe
Before getting into the details of how the DEI sector is faring in Europe, Maguire believes it’s vital to make the distinction between the type of company spoken about within a European context. For example, an Irish headquartered company with all its employees in Ireland is vastly different to an Irish multinational with colleagues around the world. These nuances make all the difference when it comes to how much a company may invest in DEI, or how much awareness they have about the subject.
However, assuming this is understood, the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Europe is experiencing positive growth. A primary reason for this is because in comparison to the US, Latin America, or Asia, in Europe there are legislative measures that support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) law, was introduced by the EU at the start of the year. 50,000 companies will be required to report on social and environmental risks they face, as well as how their activities impact people and the environment. The new rules will be applied in the 2024 financial year, with the reports set for publication in 2025. The CSRD will further strengthen the move towards making workplaces more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
3. Increasing Support For ESG Reporting
Though the focus of this post is on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, there’s a larger strategy that needs to be addressed. First coined in 2005, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) is a framework that provides the data by which investors can determine a company’s efforts to manage risks and rewards upon their community and the environment. Since 2019, there has been a fivefold growth for internet searches of ‘ESG’, and this type of support for ESG reporting is only projected to continue increasing. For the most part, this is good news. However, Maguire believes there is still as much of a need to take a more holistic approach to ESG’s as there are DEI’s.
The issue mainly has to do with the fact that there’s an overarching focus on the environmental aspect of ESG and not as much on social and governance policies. All three aspects are so connected that in order to make meaningful, impactful change, all three have to be in the conversation. Technology produced by companies like EudaOrg are making it easier to compile data on all three, thereby increasing the support for ESG reporting.
4. What Happens Without Proper DEI Policies?
If you’re still in any way unconvinced about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, the following are a few reasons why you should take the matter seriously.
- A global skills shortage is a challenge for all businesses, but DEI helps a company remain competitive by attracting a wide range of candidates. According to a LinkedIn study, companies with a DEI team were 22% more likely to be seen as an industry leading company with high-caliber talent and 12% more likely to be seen as an inclusive workplace for people of diverse backgrounds.
- Nowadays, companies can be sued for not sticking to or meeting the KPI’s they said they would in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. According to reports, since 2020, almost 40 class action lawsuits have been filed against companies such as Delta Air Lines Inc and Wells Fargo & Co for this reason.
- Depending on where a business operates, legislative measures can be taken against a company that doesn’t meet DEI standards. In Europe, diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is government and legislation driven. Certain quotas are in place and failing to meet these requirements results in companies having to pay sanctions.
As stated, a properly defined DEI framework is crucial to the success and longevity of a company. However, without any technology to support DEI professionals, EudoOrg is filling the gap with their software. This is all done with the vision of building a world where everyone can thrive and belong at work.