Workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It really has become a small world, hasn’t it?  The office environment continues to change due to the great diversity of people who are in the workforce.  Unfortunately, conscious and/or subconscious discrimination tendencies may be present within our team.  Workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a topic any property management company should overlook. Let’s first take a moment and make sure we understand what DEI is.

What is DEI?

DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Since the 1960s, there has been an increase in initiatives to foster a more diverse workforce. This has taken place on a governmental level and by forward-thinking companies who recognized the benefits of diversity as part of global company culture. In more recent years, equity became part of the broader picture, and for a good reason. The word equality was a major buzz phrase for a period of time. However, by definition, it did not create an equitable environment. More on that later.  

So by definition and by application, you cannot deploy initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion in silos. They are part of an overall broader equation.  

Diversity + Equity + Inclusion = Congenial Work Environment

To understand the sum of all parts, we do need to understand the aspects of each of our products.  Let’s consider them one by one.

What is Diversity? 

A group of people from diverse backgrounds

I love the definition of the word diversity provided by Oxford Languages.  By definition, diversity is the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.

How does this apply to the property management workplace? Simply put, your hiring practices should demonstrate that you welcome people of all backgrounds, educational levels, skillsets, beliefs, and things like these. It’s the principle of diversity that is the foundation of your hiring policies.

What is Equity?

A group of company uniforms in different sizes so every employee gets one that fits them.

Remember that equity and equality are two different things. Let’s illustrate. You may have company uniforms that are a requirement for all employees to wear. Equality would make it necessary for you to have a uniform available for every employee; every employee gets the same uniform. Equity means that you would have uniforms available for people of all different sizes; every employee gets the same uniform, but in a size that fits their unique bodies. We can’t imagine a clothing company staying in business very long if it only made one size of clothing. The same applies to a property management company or industry partner. Your company policies and application must demonstrate equity.  

What is Inclusion?

A group of people ranging in age, gender, ethnicity and ability all working together on a project

In my opinion, this is the heart of it all. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to when we were in school. More than likely, it would be easy to state that we all went to a ‘diverse’ school. But did that mean inclusion? Not necessarily. Children in school are often victims of exclusion in school. This translates to bullying, cliques, being picked last, and things like these.  

What Are the Benefits of DEI in the Workplace?

Improving DEI in the workplace has a direct impact on your bottom line. When your employees work in an environment that gives them confidence in themselves and their company culture, a snowball effect happens. 

When your employees feel like their voice can be heard, it reduces the stress inside of the workplace due to the open communication you’re able to have. This, in turn, increases employee engagement. Having the feeling of inclusivity also decreases employee turnover. Studies have shown that more than two out of four job seekers and employees look for a diverse workforce. Having DEI in the workplace increases the retention rate and overall satisfaction for your employees. 

When you foster an inclusive workplace culture, you will also notice an increase in employee productivity. Having a diverse team leads to better decision-making. Having perspectives from all different backgrounds and education gives you an advantage in finding the right answer.

DEI in the workplace gives you an advantage over other companies that haven’t created that atmosphere. Having a welcoming and safe environment attracts and retains employees at a higher rate than you would have without it. 

What Are the Benefits of DEI Training in the Workplace?

We all have an unconscious bias that we have to keep in check. DEI training is one way to help mitigate that. 

The thing with an unconscious bias is that most of us are unaware of its existence and therefore don’t realize it when we act on it. The knowledge that you get from DEI training can help you become aware of your bias, as well as help others to address theirs. Addressing that bias can help when it comes to dealing with situations we would otherwise be uncomfortable with. Our interpersonal skills will increase when we learn about the fundamentals of DEI and how fostering a safe workplace environment starts with looking at ourselves. 

There are different options available for DEI training.  There is online DEI training available.  Or you may look for a broader program where you can bring in an industry trainer on the topic and/or a specialist who can review your DEI training program and provide you with solutions.  

How Do Employers (Leaders) Foster a DEI Environment?

Remember, DEI is more than just an initiative. It’s something that needs to be embedded in your company’s culture, starting with YOU. This is also not an initiative that you celebrate once a year; send out some encouraging emails and then move on. A positive DEI environment will happen with continuous effort!  Here are a few key points to keep in mind.  

Hiring Practices 

Don’t just hire those who will fit into the role they’re being interviewed for. Hire those who can contribute to the company’s culture, adding their unique perspective and background to your team. 

Be very careful about using software, algorithms, and artificial intelligence to assess job applicants and employees.  The Americans with Disabilities Act comes into play, and you must make sure your hiring practices are compliant with the law.  

Review where you are posting opportunities and regularly review other options in order to have a more diverse talent pool.  The bottom line is to tap into as many resources as possible. Find out where people are searching on a variety of levels.

Move Beyond the Poster

This goes back to my previous statement about having a ‘day’ to celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Vince Lombardi made the famous statement: Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

The same principle applies to DEI. It is not a sometime thing. It’s an all-the-time thing. It’s a habit.  Unfortunately, there are organizations that do not make it a habit. Don’t be that group. Take the lead.  Be a winner at DEI.

Move Beyond the Policy

This one is definitely a tough one. People follow the rules and policies because they have to. Not necessarily because they want to. This is where the ongoing efforts to create a culture of DEI will eventually pay off. Birds of a feather flock together. You will attract those who naturally align themselves with your culture, and for those who don’t, they will find a different flock.  

Research Other Companies That Rock DEI

No need to reinvent the wheel. Draw inspiration from others. Chances are you have already started doing some search work on this subject. Maybe your internet search led you to this article. Keep researching. The search phrase ‘companies that rock DEI’ brings up some excellent articles.  

For the property management industry, I wanted to highlight a couple that I know of. This is not to exclude anyone. These groups have been guests of the JuvoHub podcast. So please check them out.  

RADCO Residential – Social Justice

Institute of Real Estate Management – DEI

Here are some other resources you will find valuable.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Key Takeaways

So, in summary, what have we learned today? We have clearly identified what diversity, equity, and inclusion are.  We also know the difference between equality and equity.  Our illustration about uniforms provided an excellent visual along that line. 

We also covered the benefits of DEI in the workplace, as well as DEI training.  When leaders take point on developing a culture of inclusion, equity, and diversity, it’s a win for everyone.

Use this article as a guide for your program. We are confident it will provide a template and a starting point for you and your company to rock DEI.