Business Management

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: (Achievable) Ideals > Buzzwords

Episode 1- Series - 1

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In this webinar Joshua Gan, regional director of Asia Pacific for the EHL Group, is joined by Christine Amour-Levar, Chief Marketing Officer of iRace Media, founder of HER Planet Earth and co-founder of Woman on a Mission. Chrstine's focus over the last eight years has been on empowering women through my two nonprofit organizations, Women on a Mission and Her Planet Earth. Women on a Mission focuses on supporting women who have been abused, meaning women survivors of war, women survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and other forms of violence and abuse. And Her Planet Earth supports with underprivileged women who are affected by climate change. Both of these organizations take all female teams on challenging, sometimes pioneering expeditions around the world to raise funds for these charities.

How do you define Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?

DEI or diversity, equity and inclusion are three mutually inclusive principles. Diversity is having people of all different groups and all different backgrounds within a group or an organization. And this can be anything from psychological, cultural, ethical, racial, religion, sexual orientation. It's having that breadth of diversity in the group. Equity aims to highlight and remove the barriers and obstacles to advancement and equal opportunities. It usually comes even before diversity and inclusion. Having opportunity for everyone to have a chance for success and advancement, and it is tied also to unconscious bias. Unconscious bias, especially in organizations, can be something that can prioritize the employment of men, for example, versus women, even though the candidates may be equal and equally successful. But because of a bias that people are not aware of, then they would have a tendency to promote it to the male and even offer higher salaries. Inclusion is an interesting one too, because it's about having a sense of belonging to a group. So first of all, even if you have diversity, it doesn't mean that it can translate into inclusion. So if you focus only on diversity, that's not enough, because an employee or a person's sense of belonging, inclusion is also tied to the sense of fairness, which is the equity. So all these principles are extremely important, without strong standards of DEI in a company, then employers or companies miss out on the full potential of their employees. With strong policies and standards in place, people can come with their full personality. It's just the right thing to do but on top of that, it also brings huge levels of feeling accepted happiness, retention in companies. So it's a very, very powerful concept that we all need to champion moving forward.

How can organizations implement DEI?

There are some solid things that can be done in organizations to promote DEI. The very first thing that needs to happen is equity. Equity has to come first because if you don't have equity, you don't have diversity in your means. Equity means having policies in place and rules that promote equal opportunity, basically allowing people to apply for roles without experiencing bias, as well as during their career advancement within companies. Having that basic fairness of equal opportunity for advancement is number one. Some companies do a better job of it than others and some are still learning, it's still unchartered territory. The second one is to celebrate diversity. Companies have been doing that a bit better over the years. So it's recognizing women or the pride group at a company and genuinely celebrating those differences. For people with disabilities or example, it's important to make sure that they have access to conference rooms and all areas of the workplace. The third one, which is the most important, is to use communication that is inclusive. Bring in workshops around using more inclusive language, make sure that every single person feels that they are part of the conversation. It's a way for managers to get better at making sure all their points of view are heard in the right way. Certain language shouldn't be used and other types of language should be encouraged. It's about having an awareness that perhaps your experience is not the same as somebody else and so your language should reflect that.

How did working from home change DEI?

companies have evolved with the work from home trend as well. Companies now see inside the home of their employees and so there's been a shift. Employees feel that the relationship has changed and in fact, employers, we are in part responsible for what is happening. As that line has blurred between people working and being at home colleagues are sometimes able to notice that things are not okay at home. They know if somebody is suffering from domestic abuse. So what are the policies in place? It is developing an awareness that we need to be better human beings. Companies have to do that because they have the means to do that.

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