What is DEIB, where do I start and why do I have to?


Conversations around DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) in the workplace (and the world) are getting louder. Bring. It. On.

But wouldn’t it be great if we could…stop the talk? Not because we don’t care, but because diverse, inclusive workplaces just become the norm.

Dean Delpeache helps organisations do exactly this. As a Professor of Diversity Management and a DEIB strategist, he works with executives and teams to design frameworks that support equality in talent management

That’s why we were delighted when Dean agreed to present at our ‘What really is DEIB and how do I get started?’ webinar.

Dean took us through it all: what DEIB actually is, how you can kick it off in your organisation and how to give it more than just lip service.

The rise of social justice 

Names like George Floyd and Rodney King are, sadly, synonymous with sickening acts of injustice. And, while these stories understandably prompted outrage, there are many, many incidents of prejudice and racism happening in our own backyard every single day.

Like the Asian Australian who was jeered about Covid-19 as he waited on the cricket field to bowl. Or the Asian American Pacific Islander who was verbally abused and had Lysol sprayed over her as she stood in a pharmacy.

‘This is not a problem that one group is facing in our world,’ Dean says. ‘Several groups are experiencing different issues when it comes to discrimination.’

So where does that leave your work colleagues who may have faced similar situations? And what’s your role in all this? 

Let’s go back to the meaning of diversity inclusion.

What diversity inclusion really means (and why recruiters should take note)

We know diversity is what makes us individuals. What Dean wants us to do is think beyond that – because, as he says, it shouldn’t be an ‘us versus them’ situation.

‘The reality is…[diversity inclusion is] about all of us together,’ he tells us. ‘And what we want to see – particularly in our work spaces – is everybody from all walks of life come and work…where they can be their whole self, do their best work and feel included.

‘And in that place where people feel psychologically safe, where they…trust their organisation…that is the place of belonging.’

And really, that’s reason enough for organisations to take DEIB seriously. But, there’s actually more to it.

A BetterUp survey revealed that employees who have a sense of belonging are 167% more likely to promote their organisation than those who don’t feel accepted.

Alarm bells ringing? They should be, says Dean.

‘Your best recruitment strategy is to ensure that people feel a sense of belonging because they’re the ones who are going to promote your organisation.’

How do we effect and make change?

First up: this means actually implementing diversity and inclusion strategies. Not just putting up an employment resource group or celebrating Black History Month.

‘We need actual strategies and roadmaps in our organisatons that we can action plan on,’ Dean says firmly. ‘We need greater education and training…and we need equitable recruitment solutions so that we’re not just hiring based on nepotism or friends or people who look like us. [Rather], we’re hiring people who are skilled and qualified from all walks of life.’

Dean recommends making a commitment today to start personally educating yourself. Whether that’s watching a YouTube video, reading an article or a book about inclusive conversations, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is asking yourself ‘what can I do to personally start making those changes in my life?’

And yes, he’s got some homework for you.

1. Recognise your own bias

We’ve all got them (even Dean). Recognise what they are, understand where they’ve come from and why you think like that. Then, start working towards what Dean calls ‘cultural awareness.’ Which circles us back to personal education again – because that’s where enlightenment starts. 

2. Use inclusive language

We’re all guilty of this one. Words enter our vocab without us really questioning what they mean or where they’ve come from. For example, the word ‘pow wow’ has a sacred meaning for Canadian indigenous people – but, over time, it’s become interchangeable with team meetings or get togethers. 

Let’s look at how we speak to one another and let’s use language that’s more welcoming and respectful…valuing the other person [and] who they are in their identity,’ Dean says. 

3. Holding yourself (and others) accountable

Making changes, examining ourselves and getting educated are all super positive steps. But, we need to go further, points out Dean.

‘If we are not keeping ourselves and others accountable and helping [colleagues] along on this journey, then we’re not really doing much,’ Dean says bluntly.   

DEIB isn’t woke, it’s where we’re at

Diverse, inclusive workplaces that give people a genuine sense of belonging only happen when we’re all invested in the notion of equality. 

Organisations have a significant role to play, yes, but every single one of us can (and should) get involved. 

Not sure where to start? Listen to Dean’s webinar here to get inspired, grow wiser and take action.


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