Building a culture that values diversity, equity and inclusion is essential if you’re aiming to hire top talent. In my experience, promoting workplace equity is often the missing link to building your dream team. Promoting equity for your employees requires you to take a people-first approach to building your company. It requires a shift in focus and a consideration for how you can help your people perform at their best and reach their potential.Equity in the workplace is about giving every employee the unique resources they need to have access to opportunities. In this article, I’ll talk about what equity means, why it’s important for your company, and how you can create a more equitable working environment for your employees.
Advantages of Equity in the Workplace
As a leader, you need to be aware of the needs, limitations, and challenges of your team. Providing adequate support to each team member is crucial to ensure no one gets excluded or left behind. Here are some advantages of promoting equity in your company culture:
- Boosts engagement and reduces employee turnover
When you create a strong company culture where each employee has equal access, it boosts the morale of the team and builds their trust in the management. Promoting effective communication, education programs, and implementing valuable initiatives for the team also increases employee satisfaction and boosts company growth.
- Motivates and empowers employees
A balanced team will contain members from a variety of diverse backgrounds. When you conduct training programs, understand that some employees will need more assistance, and provide it as needed. When you encourage the team to ask questions and help them resolve any issues they encounter, they’ll naturally be more motivated to give their best effort.
- Attracts top talent
When a company commits to promoting equity in the workplace, the employees tend to be more engaged and satisfied with their roles. They’ll also be more likely to refer job seekers and testify to the fair treatment in the workplace, which makes the recruiting process easier. Top talent will often have multiple offers to choose from, and the company with the most positive company culture will usually come out on top.
Equity vs Equality in the workplace
Although equity and equality sound similar, they are fundamentally different concepts that require their own set of standards to promote them in your company. Both equity and equality ensure fair treatment in the organization, but they use a different approach in doing so. Equality asserts that every employee must have access to the same resources and opportunities. But it doesn't address any pre-existing barriers or an unfair status quo in the team.Equity, on the other hand, ensures that the needs and struggles of certain employees are taken into consideration. Team members from marginalized backgrounds are often unable to take fair advantage of opportunities and resources that your company provides. An equitable workplace seeks to empower such workers and makes sure they’re well supported.
Implement Equity in The Workplace
What does workplace equity look like in action? Fair and equitable treatment can be hard to demonstrate, because it often depends on the unique experiences of each employee. Creating a safe, open environment that emphasizes the importance of fair and open communication is the first step to fostering an equitable workplace. To implement this, I recommend you start with implementing civil discourse in your team meetings. Civil communication encourages employees to treat each other with respect and dignity while engaging in open discussions that enhance understanding.Here are some additional ways you can promote equity:
- Transparency around wages
It's important to have transparency around wages and openly discuss how employee performance impacts salary. Companies that are transparent about this are essentially eliminating the issue of unequal pay. It’s easy for a female to know if she’s earning less than her male counterpart, and groups that are often discriminated against will find comfort in knowing they’re being paid fairly.
- Diversity in leadership roles
While many companies promote diversity and inclusion in their organizations, they often fail to have diverse employees in leadership positions. To effectively implement equity in the company, you should make a concerted effort to offer equal opportunities to a wide range of qualified and capable people who are from diverse backgrounds.
- Equity around recruitment
The practice of equity should start in the early stages of the employee journey, including your recruiting processes. Encourage applications from diverse candidates with the required skill sets for any open role in your organization. Focus on skills rather than dwelling on credentials when choosing the best candidate.
- Mentorship and education programs
Set up continuous mentorship programs for your employees to help them advance in their respective roles and ultimately grow the company. This will help marginalized employees who may have been unable to access education due to systemic barriers keep up with the team.
Examples of Equity in the Workplace
Equity in the workplace makes employees feel accepted and fosters the collective growth of the team and the company. Establishing workplace equity is an ongoing effort, and, as an employer, you should experiment with different ways to create it and find what works for your team.Here are a few examples of how you can do it:
- Skill-based hiring and promotion
People who don’t have a college education shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to perform jobs they’re otherwise qualified for. It’s unfair to marginalized groups and often a missed opportunity for employers. When interviewing job applicants, focus on their skills and past work experience instead of overemphasizing degree requirements. Hiring people based on skills helps you identify and hire star performers you may have otherwise skipped over.
- Equitable benefits
Equity in the workplace ensures that resources and benefits are tailored to every employee's needs. Employee benefits such as health insurance, financial and retirement plans, maternity, and paternity leave, vacation and paid time off, and employee discounts must be available for everyone regardless of gender identification, sexual orientation or parental status.
- Inclusive rewards/Incentives
People have different preferences when it comes to rewards and incentives. And what makes one employee feel appreciated might be very different from another. Consider what certain people view as valuable incentives, and allow employees to identify the perfect rewards for them.
Creating a healthy work environment where each employee feels respected and gets a fair chance to contribute to the team is imperative for your company’s growth and the wellbeing of your team. If you take your employees’ satisfaction seriously, you’ll attract great talent, even if you provide lower compensation than other industry giants. With top talent and a collaborative work culture, the output of the team improves, further increasing customer satisfaction, and ultimately, the growth and impact of the company. Moreover, implementing equity in the workplace helps you build a positive reputation as a standout employer. If you want to create an equitable workplace, work towards applying the strategies I’ve mentioned here, your employees will thank you.