Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a phrase that has become important to individuals and organizations that are working to become better for all. A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone feel involved and supported. By promoting DEI, we can work to improve the lives of these individuals and provide them with the necessary tools to thrive. So, what exactly does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean?
Diversity – Diversity is the presence of things that are different from one another. This is expressed in many different ways, including through different races, ethnicities, languages, religions, ages, disabilities, sexual orientations, genders, gender identities, socioeconomic statuses, and more.
Equity – Equity involves trying to understand and give each person what they need in order for them to achieve an equal footing in life. Equity focuses on helping people obtain what they need in order to get to a place where equality is possible.
Inclusion – Inclusion focuses on involving everyone and making sure no one is excluded for reasons like their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, any disability they may have, or anything else that makes them different. It also is not simply about including diverse groups but making sure they feel welcomed and able to participate in decision-making, development opportunities, and other activities.
Emmaus recognizes that while we have organically been successful in creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, it is important to be intentional in our efforts. As a result, we have formed a work group to examine our policies and practices to build on our success. Our work group is made up of representatives from departments within Emmaus, and we have spent the past months learning about the DEI concepts and sharing ideas and suggestions.
The group began in partnership with the United Way. Part of our process involves the learning we receive from the Blue Ocean Brain platform. Blue Ocean Brain provides digestible learning bites to help solve problems and make better decisions with micro-articles and brief and engaging videos.
We plan to continue our education efforts and extend DEI principles at all levels of our work. We have begun efforts to target groups that are currently under-represented as well as continue adding applicable training to our Relias and Leadership curriculums.
How has the Emmaus work environment changed over the past few years?
In addition to the formation of the DEI Committee and the Blue Ocean Brain training, we have recognized career growth opportunities and increased diversity representation in Emmaus leaders at the emerging to mid-senior levels. In 2017, 21% of leaders in Client Services were of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Today, 53% are diverse leaders. Forty-seven percent of these managers are Black or African American, 2% are Asian, 2% are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 2 % are two or more races.