It’s Time To Reimagine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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A great deal of noble and important work has been done on DEI in recent years, but we have hit a ceiling. That’s largely because diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives tend to select a core set of visible demographic minorities, segment people into these groups, and assume they define the workplace experience.


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A great deal of noble and important work has been done on DEI in recent years, but we have hit a ceiling. That’s largely because diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives tend to select a core set of visible demographic minorities, segment people into these groups, and assume they define the workplace experience.
In reality, of course, individuals are made up of a multiplicity of identities. A black employee can also identify as LGBTQ and be a caregiver for an elderly parent. A white male employee might have a physical disability and work visa considerations.
By relying on conventional demographic categories, companies reinforce two unintended consequences. It creates a majority-versus-minority mentality that fuels divisiveness among the workforce, and it ignores huge cohorts of the workforce who could benefit from DEI in the workplace. Leaders simply can’t expect a system built for the homogeneous workforce of yesterday to continue to be successful for a new and diverse generation. To deliver a step change in DEI, companies need to attack the problem from an entirely new perspective. They must:

Reframe why DEI benefits the organisation
Reset who should be the focus of DEI efforts
Reinvent how to develop solutions

South African data points:

Up to 75% of South African respondents reported their company has a diversity programme in place.
However, up to 38% of targeted employees in South Africa have not benefitted from these programmes.

“While this share may be comparably low - in other countries it goes up to 75% - it is more than a third of targeted employees,” says Jacqueline Foster-Mutungu, principal at Boston Consulting Group, Johannesburg.

Furthermore, 44% of surveyed South African employees report that they have experienced bias in the workplace – the third highest share after India and China.

“South African organisations have a lot of work to do and now is the best time to reimagine their DEI strategies,” says Jacqueline Foster-Mutungu, principal at Boston Consulting Group, Johannesburg.

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