Why the employee’s voice is so important to diversity and inclusion

19 October 2021

Blog

As we have discussed in previous blogs, establishing an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity is vital to creating an environment where employees feel welcomed, supported, and able to thrive.

However, a culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) cannot simply be imposed from the top – it’s a company-wide effort. To achieve this goal, it’s important to listen to employees and ensure their voices are being heard.

In our own efforts to understand our employees’ needs, we have found that team members truly value a commitment to DEI. In our recent Global DEI Survey of employees across our business, we found that 95% of our team members agree that DEI is important for competitive advantage and 83% believe DEI objectives should exist for leadership.

It takes a village

However, even for the best leaders, it is not always possible to know everything about every single member of their business. Taking a top-down approach to DEI could mean a business prioritizes the wrong areas for improvement, under-states targets, or implements initiatives that don’t address issues that matter most to employees.

Engaging team members in establishing targets and focus areas, on the other hand, can go a long way towards ensuring that activities have a material positive impact on the workplace environment.

In our Global DEI survey, for example, our team members worldwide highlighted that the top three DEI areas for us to focus on in the coming year were: Race and ethnicity; Age; and Gender. Prioritizing these areas in our objectives will help us not only ensure we are having a measurable impact on creating a diverse and inclusive environment for team members, but it will also ensure that our employees know that they are being listened to, and that we value their insight.

Asking team members what their DEI needs are, where they have concerns and how they might feel more welcome, and taking their input into account, doesn’t just help ensure that the correct strategy is in place. It also gives them the  assurance that they have a real stake in the success of any DEI objectives and allows them to join in and lead with our initiatives.

Gaining input into how to achieve goals

In addition, it’s important to engage team members in exploring the “how” of improving DEI in the workplace. They are best placed to understand what efforts are needed to achieve objectives.

In UDG’s Global DEI Survey our team members highlighted Employee Training and Awareness on DEI as the most important pillar to help us achieve our goals over the coming years. For our employees, understanding how they can better support their colleagues and what more they can do to strengthen team bonds and camaraderie is key to making our business an even better place to work. We recently launched two virtual DEI training sessions  for all employees to support this goal.

Other pillars recommended by our employees included Hybrid Working and Talent Development, to further enhance the support we offer team members of all backgrounds to help them achieve their personal development goals.

The power of positivity

Creating a diverse and inclusive environment is a never-ending task. There is always more that can and should be done to ensure all team members feel valued and listened to.

Nevertheless, committing to this process can have an immediate impact on employee satisfaction and contentment. At UDG, we still feel we are early on in our diversity journey but, in our survey, we found that 92% of our employees believe that their division is interested in their wellbeing, and 96% feel that their division is a good place to work.

These are excellent results and demonstrate the impact of our current efforts on making our business a great place to work. But, we don’t want to rest on our laurels – we know there is more work to do. We’re looking forward to heeding our employees’ advice and feeding it into our objectives for the coming year. With our team’s help, we know we can establish our business as an employer where everyone feels welcome, at home and among family.