3 reasons you should work for a DE&I-driven employer

7 min read | Trisha Brookes | Article | | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Two women in a meeting holding a document

What’s your top priority when looking for a new job? You might be leaning towards a higher salary, or perhaps you’re looking for greater flexibility and work-life balance. However, there’s another factor that can truly bolster your career: an organisation’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

But what should you look out for to spot a company that genuinely values DE&I? What does diversity in the workplace look like? And how can working for a DE&I-driven employer benefit your career?


What is diversity in the workplace?

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one where you can be yourself and feel valued and respected by your colleagues – regardless of your differences. These differences could be visible, protected characteristics – such as gender, race, age, or a visible disability – but also less visible traits, such as sexual orientation, personality type, social background and education.

While much progress has been made in recent years to create inclusive cultures and mitigate bias across industries, not all organisations have made equal headway. Our DE&I report revealed that over a third (37%) of employees feel the need to hide an aspect of who they are for fear of judgement, while almost half (48%) have felt their chances of career progression have been limited because of their background or an identifying factor (such as gender, race, age or a disability).

It’s clear, then, that an organisation’s commitment to DE&I is far from a given – but discerning those who have found the right balance could be well worth your while.


Why work for a diverse and inclusive employer?

Joining an organisation that proactively embraces DE&I is more than just a moral choice – it’s a smart career move that could see you gain far more from a role. Opting to work for a company that champions DE&I could improve your career prospects, strengthen your transferable core skills, and improve your sense of belonging. Let’s unpack why in more detail:


1. Diverse organisations are future-ready

If you’re looking to join an industry leader with an eye on the future, or even simply a progressive start-up, you’ll likely be choosing one that makes DE&I a priority.

Innovation and DE&I may go hand-in-hand, with research suggesting that diverse teams outperform those less widely represented. The reason? Diverse teams are more likely to draw from a wider pool of experiences and ways of thinking, helping to better understand today’s broad range of customers and stakeholders in a global market.

Therefore, employers who recruit inclusively and foster diverse teams may be a more opportune and productive long-term choice for your career and professional development. Speaking of which, working in a diverse team may help develop some equally diverse skills…


2. Strengthen your in-demand core skills

Core skills – sometime known as soft skills – are becoming increasingly valued by employers for their transferability and robustness in a fast-moving world of work where technical skills shortages are the norm. Whether it’s communication or emotional intelligence, these core skills have the potential to improve your hirability and future-proof your career. But how does DE&I fit into the equation?

Diverse and inclusive workplaces are fertile environments to develop your core skills, which are often grounded in personal interaction with other people. By working in a diverse and inclusive environment, you’ll naturally be exposed to a wider range of different opinions and thought patterns.

And if you’re looking to either join as a manager, or progress to becoming one, overseeing diverse teams will likely require you to cultivate a better sense of awareness, alongside heightened communication and interpersonal skills.


3. Feel a greater sense of belonging and purpose

When was the last time you felt like you didn’t fit in or couldn’t be yourself at work? For those fortunate enough, this may be a struggle to recall, while for others it’s part of their daily lived experience. Either way, nobody should feel like they don’t belong in the workplace or have to cover up an aspect of who who they are – whether that be yourself or a colleague.

Research by Gartner suggests that feeling like an outsider at work can cause you to supress the personal elements that make you unique – a painful and negative experience that “undermines focus and performance”. While adaptability is a must in today’s world of work, this shouldn’t come at the cost of identity.

Fortunately, forward-thinking organisations are well aware of this, and strive to embed inclusion at all levels. Seek out employers who want your voice to be heard and your differences to be celebrated. Any biased language or reference to being a ‘cultural fit’ in an application process can be early red flags that an employer isn’t serious about inclusion. There are multiple online tools to check for bias in job descriptions.


Add DE&I to your job-search criteria

If you don’t want to work in an environment where it’s necessary to ‘fake it’ to fit in, or where employees hide material aspects of who they, then don’t discount a commitment to DE&I. As well as ensuring you feel a part of the business, you’ll also benefit by tuning your core skills and working for a company that’s geared for the future.


Explore more career advice or discover our latest job opportunities


About this author

Trisha Brookes, Director of People & Culture, UK&I, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion champion at Hays

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