Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How studies support effective implementation

From underrepresentation of women and people of color in leadership roles to systematic biases in the hiring process – structural discrimination remains prevalent in the business world. But we also know a diverse company culture, rooted in fair and inclusive treatment of employees, benefits from greater employee well-being, enhanced innovation, and higher productivity. Implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace unites social justice, in areas such as gender disparities and equal access to opportunities, with tackling corporate challenges in meeting demand for skilled labor and pursuing sustainable business growth. This article outlines how companies can effectively implement DEI in their corporate culture and work environment, with the objective of improving both well-being and performance.

Implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in company culture

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies target the fair and just treatment of people from a rich variety of social demographics. In a company environment, this means promoting a culture and workplace founded upon values such as open communication, mutually reciprocated trust, and an imbued sense of belonging.

Three main takeaways for implementing DEI:

  • Measure Diversity using key indicators so that a basis for action can be founded.
  • Use relevant and insightful benchmarks to set Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion targets for strategic HR planning in company culture and the workplace.
  • Understand the impact DEI has for employees, companies and society to optimize the benefits resulting from these policies.

Status quo: how diverse is my organization?

The first step towards implementing successful DEI policies in an organization is to measure the status quo. Which indicators can be applied to measure diversity? How does a company perform according to these indicators? Providing answers to these questions forms the basis for action – only once measured do DEI challenges become manageable.

WifOR’s Diversity Score measures a company’s diversity based on key indicators, including gender, age, cultural variety, gender pay gap, work flexibility, and qualifications. A Diversity Score is derived from these figures, offering a nuanced evaluation of a company’s diversity performance and a foundational layer to develop DEI within workplace culture.

The Diversity Score offers an accessible approach to identifying strengths and weaknesses in performance, paving the way for effective DEI policies to be developed. Additionally, our Diversity Score enables informed and accurate ESG reporting, which is becoming increasingly a prerequisite for sustainable business growth, and can help to position organizations as attractive employers amidst the “race for talents” on today’s labor market.

Our experts applied the Diversity Score evaluation to discover how diverse WifOR is as an institute. The evaluation provides a performance rating from zero to ten for each indicator as well as an overall score, combing the indicators. The results can be found here.

Diversity Score: WifOR Institute

Benchmarking: How does DEI in my company compare to industry performance?

Developing any goal-orientated strategy is predicated on comparing performance against informative and relevant benchmarks. Below average? There is a clear path for improvement. Exceeding the performance of those around you? An opportunity to become a forerunner in the field and further develop strengths. Implementing DEI in company culture is no different.

Using a range of DEI indicators and combining macro and micro perspectives, WifOR’s Benchmarking Study contextualizes an organization’s DEI performance by comparing it with the averages for selected industries. Alongside gender and age, indicators include factors such as access to opportunity for people with disabilities as well as variety in cultural and educational backgrounds. Industry averages, meanwhile, are based on statistics provided by official bodies such as Eurostat and the Federal Ministry of Labor.

WifOR’s Benchmark Study provides an industry-specific context in relation to DEI performance, with which strategic and actionable HR plans can be developed. The outcome is to nurture a work culture rooted in social justice and to which employees feel respected by and committed to. The study provides informational insights into company structures, an evidence-based platform with which to navigate shortages of skilled labor, and a means to promote positive communication with internal and external stakeholders. 

Understanding effect: what impact do DEI policies have?

Holistically implementing DEI in a company relies on understanding the impact these policies have. By measuring impact, companies can realize – as well as communicate – the interlinkage within their own organization between effective DEI measures, enhanced employee well-being, and durable business success.

In the context of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, WifOR’s DEI Impact Study investigates the effect workplaces and company cultures have on the mental health of employees. This effect is used to quantify the value of DEI policies not only for company performance but also at a societal level, analyzing the interaction between human well-being and socioeconomic impact. On the basis of this scientific research, the DEI Impact Study also offers empirical data which can be used to promote further DEI measures within both internal and external dialogues.

WifOR’s DEI Impact Study is broken down into three steps

  1. Analyze a wide range of significant DEI indicators in the company. This includes diversity dimensions such as age, gender, and cultural variety and looks at inclusion factors contributing to a fair, open, and respectful work environment.
  2. Identify the impact DEI has on the mental health of employees mental health.
  3. Quantify the resulting societal impact, measured using a monetization of the avoided productivity losses and burden of illness. The impact of DEI on a company’s performance and wider society is correspondingly calculated.

In a nutshell: WifOR's DEI studies

Implementing DEI into a company culture is reliant on understanding the (internal and external) status quo and measuring the impact of changes. It involves a commitment to social justice and celebrating the richness of variety in a workforce. Simultaneously, effectively embracing DEI can harness untapped innovative capacities, provide key solution to addressing skilled labor shortages, and enhance company performance.