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What is the Role and Purpose of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee?

Friday November 13th, 2020

Estimated time to read: 1 minute, 45 seconds

A senior coworker shares important data with junior coworkers in an open office space.

Business leaders looking to make strides toward a more diverse and inclusive workplace can establish actionable goals and evaluate progress by forming a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) council or committee. But what is the purpose of a DE&I committee? Here’s a brief overview of what this group does, and why it’s important to employers and employees.  

What a DE&I committee does:

This type of internal group can be made up of members of an organization, from top-level executives to employees. The purpose of a DE&I committee is to help establish a supportive and welcoming workplace environment in which employees of all backgrounds and demographic characteristics can work together.  

As [explained by Diversity Best Practices](link no longer valid), “the primary role of the council is to connect D&I activities to a broader business-driven, results-oriented strategy.” A diversity council’s roles and responsibilities include:

  • Relating diversity and inclusion to the company’s mission, values and objectives.
  • Outlining key diversity and inclusion goals and actionable steps to achieve them.
  • Helping institutionalize policies that support equity for all employees.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of ongoing efforts and adapting as needed.

DE&I initiatives are good for people — and for business

One important purpose of a DE&I committee is to ensure that the company creates an inclusive environment that promotes equity in the workplace. This leads to a culture that leverages diversity to its fullest potential so that every employee can have a sense of belonging regardless of their background.

Furthermore, the active promotion of inclusion and diversity in the workplace is healthy for business and its bottom line. As the World Economic Forum noted, “the business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming.” When highly skilled workers from different backgrounds collaborate, the variety of experiences, perspectives and creative ideas they’ll contribute can lead to innovative and even disruptive new ways of thinking and problem solving. 

And there is ample data to back this up. According to a recent McKinsey report, businesses with high gender diversity on executive teams were [21 percent more likely to outperform the competition](link no longer valid) in terms of profitability. Additionally, organizations with leadership teams that exhibited higher levels of ethnic and cultural diversity were 33 percent more likely to have industry-leading profitability. 

On the other side of the spectrum, companies with the lowest levels of gender, ethnic and cultural diversity lag behind significantly. In McKinsey’s study, they were 29 percent less likely to reach above-average levels of profitability. 

Achieving a diverse, inclusive workplace certainly pays off in a variety of ways, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, a DE&I committee will continually work toward specific goals and hold the organization accountable.

Businesses with the right teams and tools in place to accelerate DE&I goals will be better situated to attract and retain top talent.

Wondering what it takes to create a diverse and inclusive workplace? Download our eBook for a step-by-step guide on how to form a DE&I committee.

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