How Can Companies Encourage Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Year Round? 

Perspective from Andrew Limouris, President and CEO, Medix

Even companies with the best intentions can miss the mark when it comes to living the full meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) outside of designated DEI awareness months. 

But before we get down to it, let’s lay out some definitions. Despite the seeming simplicity of those three words, diversity, equity, and inclusion, their meanings depend a lot on context and the arena in which they’re being used. I’m the first to admit that the definitions I share with you here could be different from the definitions you source yourself, and that is one of the reasons DEI can seem simple on its face, but be quite complex underneath. 

This article from the management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, offers an overview of DEI, and to it I would add this summation:

  • Diversity is The Who
  • Equity is The What
  • Inclusion is The How

Depending on the organization, diversity can include veteran status, sexual orientation, and union versus non-union teammates, among other populations. And we’re still at the tip of the iceberg. But suffice it to say, it is nuanced, complex, and vital to the well-being of today’s companies – which brings us back to our original question: how can companies encourage DEI year round? 

At Medix, that question burns bright, and one thing we recognized is the need for sincere acts, not words alone. We believe in active education and acknowledgement, and we believe in care and respect. Some ways leadership can help is by listening to their teams, staying current on local, national, and global developments, and aiming for awareness of both recent and long-standing issues and attitudes. Each piece of that is important because of its potential to affect teammates who affiliate themselves with particular groups. For instance, Medix has seven active employee impact groups (often called employee resource groups by other companies), and these groups are:

  • Women with Purpose
  • African American Network
  • Unidos (Latiné)  
  • Medix: Mission Military
  • Parents at Medix
  • Asian American Pacific Islander

Each group operates freely, based on its unique needs and preferences. Our groups practice intersectionality wherever possible, seeking places where they can unite over shared beliefs and interests. They are open to anyone, regardless of how individuals self-identify, and the only rule around that is the absolute insistence on respect. Medix believes that when we celebrate a DEI awareness month, it should be wholeheartedly, authentically, and thoughtfully, and only after listening to what our impact groups think and feel. 

A few examples of DEI awareness months are:

  • Black History Month (February)
  • Women’s History Month (March)
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May)
  • Military Appreciation Month (May)
  • Pride Month (June)
  • Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15)

But what if it’s not Women’s History Month, Pride Month, or Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? What if it’s not Black History Month or Global Diversity Awareness Month (which is in October, by the way)? How do we keep DEI alive and well then? To Medix, those are the times to stay focused. Those are the times when meeting and talking and sharing are just as important because doing so maintains momentum. Having impact groups that are engaged, no matter which month it is, keeps the well of DEI primed, pumped, and flowing.  

At Medix, no matter what the calendar says:  

  • Our Impact Groups can discuss the importance of recognition and belonging in the workplace
  • Medix leadership and teammates can give additional attention to creating safe spaces and to conversations around overcoming adversity
  • We can educate on areas such as giving and receiving feedback
  • We can share personal experiences and show how they can impact professional experiences
  • We can focus on fun because life is messy, and by having a little fun, you can break up the day!

Leadership should continually offer teammates opportunities to talk and to listen, to teach and to learn, and the opportunities for this are endless: understanding the differences between equity and inclusion, the nature of microaggressions and how to defend against them, and why everyone has at least some unconscious biases, to name a few. Everyone benefits, whether they identify within underrepresented populations or not. 

By encouraging the exploration of diversity, equity, and inclusion every month, we lay the groundwork, offer the training, and have the courageous conversations needed for making the workplace a better place to be – and for true celebrations when awareness months do come around. 

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