Why is diversity, equity and inclusion important in the workforce? - 405 Magazine

Why is diversity, equity and inclusion important in the workforce?

Three leaders discuss why diversity, equity and inclusion matter in Oklahoma’s businesses now and in the future.

Three leaders discuss why diversity, equity and inclusion matter in Oklahoma’s businesses now and in the future.

Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite
University of Oklahoma Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

No matter the industry, diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamentally crucial to the workforce of today and tomorrow. Creating inclusive spaces and ensuring that diverse people and perspectives are represented allows for greater creativity and innovation, and increases access to diverse communities, which impacts and improves the business’s bottom line. Embracing diversity helps ensure that all individuals and viewpoints are represented and included, ultimately helping the workforce and businesses compete in a diverse, global and integrated world.

Companies that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion will benefit from the economic impacts of inclusion, enhanced recruitment and hiring, the retention of diverse staff from historically underrepresented groups and an elevated public reputation.

Illustration by Emily Hart

Joanne Davis
Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce executive director

Diversity, equity and inclusion are very important! I started work at fifteen. My first job included a majority Black staff with the owner/manager being white. Not sure I would call that diversity. From that point on until I retired, I was often the only Black. As I rose in ranks, I was the only Black in management or one of few in my division. 

When companies, institutions and/or organizations are intentional about diversity, they draw the best of the best. Representation matters! Women like to see women in organizations to which they may be applying and so do others. They want to see what is possible for them. 

Equity is, by definition, the quality of being fair and impartial. Fairness and impartiality should be immersed through the pores of any organization to include job interviews, evaluations, and/or poor performance. I equate inclusion to acceptance. Acceptance of differences, acknowledgment and respect of who they are and what their differences bring to the whole. It’s being intentional and making sure people are not omitted and/or ensuring their participation. 

Illustration by Emily Hart

QK Douglas
QKI Consulting founder and attorney

It is an interesting question to ask why diversity, equity and inclusion matters in the workplace for me, because I can’t think of a way that it doesn’t. It is interesting because it almost begs the question as to why there would be a need or justification for a disenfranchised group or individual to feel comfortable in workplaces that have perpetuated unhealthy practices. Research has shown that the more welcoming and robust a company culture is, the more that the company benefits and thrives on the workforce and the environment as a whole. 

DEI is not only important, but a historical amends to the way work is viewed in this country and the gifts and contributions that are left untapped based on societal bias and systemic discriminatory practices; both obvious and subtle. The rise of quiet quitting and small business ownership/entrepreneurship is a response, in my opinion, to the lack of focus on diverse, inclusive and equitable company cultures and environments. I hope companies are taking note and making genuine adjustments as the workforce and landscape will continue to change drastically from what we’ve known in amazing ways.

Illustration by Emily Hart