10 Misconceptions About DEI

by Kayla Kelly

What is DEI? Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) or increasingly more commonly Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies embrace a variety of perspectives to build companies that better understand their employees and customers.
McKinsey & Company in partnership with The Society for Human Research Management (SHRM), conducted research on the performance of companies with different levels of workplace diversity.  They found that:

“Companies that exhibit gender and ethnic diversity are, respectively, 15 percent and 35 percent more likely to outperform less diverse peers.  The same study found that organizations with more racial and gender diversity bring in more sales revenue, more customers and higher profits.”

DEI Diversity Misconceptions

Misconceptions about DEI are common, even among HR professionals responsible for developing DEI strategies. Misunderstanding DEI can lead to a less capable workforce and missed business opportunities, not to mention possible legal repercussions for unfair or unequal employment processes. We’re here to help by sharing the top misconception about DEI.

Misconception #1: DEI diversity is primarily about race and gender and specifically under-represented employee groups.

Diversity takes many forms, and yes, race and gender differences do account for diversity, but other types of diversity include age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, culture, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, and political perspective.

Misconception #2: DEI is about the makeup of a company’s staff.

Diversity is not just about ‘including’ people who have been under-represented as employees. It’s also about creating a team and a business that better understands all of the potential customers for your products and services. Understanding the diversity of your prospective customers needs will help your business grow and thrive. DEI creates a culture in which each member of your team can contribute to the best of their ability and serve your ever-more-diverse market.

Misconception #3: DEI is a fad.

You’re hearing more about DEI diversity in the workplace not because it is a fad, but because it works! SHRM writes, “Smart companies reflect [diversity] in the collective makeup of their employees. Their leaders understand that yesterday’s workforce can’t lead them into tomorrow.” Markets are becoming more global and buyers represent all of humanity – understanding diverse customer needs is not fad – it is a necessary part of your success.

Misconception #4: DEI is the same thing as Equal Employment Opportunity or Affirmative Action.

The legal standards for equal employment laws and the corrective efforts of Affirmative Action programs are focused on removing historic barriers that made workplaces less diverse. DEI is about building and managing teams that make companies smarter, more resilient and more connected to their customers by having a deeper understanding of the range of needs in the marketplace. DEI studies show that the performance of non-minority employees also improves when they are part of a workforce that include diverse experiences. DEI applies to everyone and is not government mandated, but rather it is something businesses take on voluntarily to improve their workforce and business prospects.

Misconception #5: DEI diversity is about treating everyone equally.

On its face, this seems reasonable. But sometimes, treating everyone the same can have the unintended consequence of making things unnecessarily difficult for some people and not others.

For example, if a company requires everyone to start work at the same time in the morning, it might be unduly difficult on an employee with a medical condition that is worse in the morning or who needs to take medication and wait for it to take effect. This shouldn’t be thought of as “special treatment,” but rather a consideration that will help the worker excel.

Taking a flexible approach does not mean that you will have to compromise your business’s needs, only that a one-size-fits-all policy isn’t always appropriate.

Misconception #6: There’s no return on investment in DEI.

DEI is all about ROI. Companies with well-defined and funded DEI initiatives lower employee turnover, increase employee satisfaction and make better and faster decisions about new market opportunities. These benefits are in addition to the traditional metrics of legal risk reduction from compliant business practices.

Misconception #7: Diverse teams are less efficient.

It can take time for any group to get to know each other and figure out how to work most effectively together as a team. This is no truer for diverse teams than any other teams. A range of perspectives can, in fact, be of great benefit to a team’s output.

Misconception #8: It’s more difficult to manage a diverse team.

Successful managers in global businesses are expert in learning about local needs and expectations. Early experiences in managing diversity helps managers succeed as their career spans different locations, business units, and leadership needs. Managing a diverse team is not necessarily any more difficult than managing a non-diverse team. Managing any group of people presents challenges, but as a skilled manager learns his or her team’s capabilities and weaknesses, results will follow.

Misconception #9: It’s difficult for people of different generations to work together.

Age diversity can present numerous opportunities for productive collaboration. Many Baby Boomers nearing retirement have wisdom and a lifetime of experience that they can draw upon to help nurture and support their younger colleagues. The younger generations typically bring technological skills, creativity, and enthusiasm. An intergenerational team can offer the best of both worlds.

Misconception #10: We’ve implemented a DEI policy, now we’re done.

Many famous business leaders follow the saying that ‘execution eats strategy for lunch’. Creating a DEI policy is just the first step. If your DEI efforts are not incorporated into annual performance reviews and pay and promotion programs your DEI strategy will fail. Successful DEI programs are recognized by business leaders who discuss them as mission-critical strategies connected to the success of the business. Milestones are celebrated and the work of diverse teams is held up as examples to be modelled.

Workforce Management Solutions

DEI requires that you measure your workforce demographics and have structured compensation management that includes DEI. Paypro can help with a wide range of solutions fully customizable to your business’s needs. Contact us to find out more about how our services can help make your workforce management tasks more efficient.

About The Author

Kayla is the Marketing Manager at Paypro Corporation overseeing all inbound and outbound marketing and sales efforts. She has 7+ years of experience working within the B2B and SaaS based solutions space and thrives on creating messaging and campaigns that introduce products and services to those who need them most.