11 August 2022
Today DEI is in the mindset of most dynamic organisations. Implementing a DEI program – DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion – has its challenges because the practice is so broad.
The country’s environment, local culture, and statutory environment must also be considered as relevant factors. But the biggest challenge of DEI is not in implementing the policy in the company but in making it part of the culture, and engaging all its employees. A DEI program without a strong culture is like a body without a soul.
Being a diverse, equitable, and inclusive company impacts the workforce, workplace, communities, and the marketplace. It offers stimulating and challenging environments for its employees, improves creativity and innovation by incorporating people with diverse ideas, outlooks, and skills, and helps them respond more dynamically to market changes.
At AIMS International, we approach DEI from eight different dimensions to help companies design their own strategy by promoting policies, initiatives, and concrete actions.
Gender: To provide opportunities, development, and visibility to women
Some organisations have policies designed to maintain a balance between the number of men and women. Other organisations may question whether this approach produces the best outcomes for the business and its employees. Ultimately, the question is: given equal skills and experience, do women have the same opportunities as men when applying for the same positions? Promoting the active leadership of women, creating discussion spaces and employee resource groups (ERGs), and health insurance with coverage oriented to women are some of the initiatives that companies implement to develop the practice.
Disability: To extend equal opportunities to people with physical or mental disabilities
We typically associate DEI with the development of a diverse and mutually respectful workplace, but there is more to do for people with physical or mental disabilities. Does your organisation have the appropriate accessibility features: ramps, elevators, automatic doors, restrooms, signage, or tactile floors for the visually impaired? How many companies recognize days like World Down Syndrome Day? What other actions do they take to increase awareness?
Culture and origins: To provide minorities (in ethnic origin, race, nationality, or belief) an environment welcoming of difference
How welcoming is your organisation of people who look, sound, or think differently to the majority of employees? That depends again on the country, its demographics, and politics. Hiring practices are the most relevant factor here, but some companies have ERGs for minorities and make symbolic gestures towards inclusivity like different cafeteria dishes or celebrations. Small these may be, but they can be powerful.
Generations: To support and develop people in the different stages of their professional lives
This practice has two faces. On the one hand, companies seek to offer the same opportunities to young people who are just entering the labour market. They promote learning and professional development through educational programs, leaves of absence, and even flexible work day schedules. Some companies even subsidise education or develop their own knowledge centres.
On the other hand, some companies make strong efforts to support existing and hire new members of staff in their 50s and over. They are careful to keep open development opportunities appropriate to greater seniority and accumulated skills. Companies may also offer them benefits such as recognition, seniority days off, medical check-ups, and coverage for specific illnesses.
Pride: To promote an inclusive work environment for all gender identities and sexual orientations
More and more companies are promoting Pride-related celebrations. These efforts are typically driven by leadership, a wider culture of inclusion, and respect-based values, although many states also legislate against discrimination. In many organisations, a different orientation is not a limitation for employees’ professional development. How receptive is your organisation and its employees in this matter?
Background: To provide a favourable environment for developing people with different life experiences
Many companies aim to be more welcoming of people whose life choices and employment histories are different to the norm within their industries such as those who have served in the armed forces or have served a prison sentence. Reintegration programs and support via ERGs and employee assistance programs ensure that they gain these individual’s skills while helping them to return to normal life.
Financial inclusion: To offer fair compensation, assistance, and development opportunities for people in financial need
Companies are increasingly aware of financial inclusion as a tool for advancement. Many aim to offer a competitive entry-level salary for primarily operational roles, even above statutory or market set thresholds, with periodic performance-based upgrades. They may also provide allowances for transportation or food. Some companies even offer assistance or financial aid for financially vulnerable people through their own financing programs, employee associations, and foundations.
Roberto works at AIMS Central America, and combines more than 20 years of experience in executive positions in Retail industry and Management Consulting. In the last 12 years, he has done strategic consulting for several clients in Latam. He is an expert in strategic planning, company transformation and profitable growth. He holds an MBA from IE Business School.”