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What does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) mean?


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are foundational elements in creating a dynamic and thriving workplace. DEI refers to the practices and policies that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including those of different races, genders, ages, religion, and neurodiversities. In the workplace, DEI aims to ensure that all employees feel valued and respected, fostering a culture where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

Imagine walking into a workplace where every voice is heard, every perspective valued, and everyone feels they truly belong. In today’s world, this isn’t just a dream—it’s becoming a reality through the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity, life would be very boring.

What is the difference between Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is transforming how we approach social justice and workplace culture. By understanding and embracing DEI principles, organizations can create environments that celebrate a variety of human differences while ensuring equal opportunities and fair treatment for everyone. According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company, organizations that prioritize DEI are 27 percent more likely to outperform financially those that do not. 

Diversity refers to the wide range of human differences, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, socioeconomic status, and neurodivergence. It’s about recognizing and valuing these differences to create a richer, more inclusive environment.

Equity ensures that these differences do not hinder equal access to opportunities and resources. It’s about providing fair treatment, pay equity, and promotion opportunities, tailored to the unique needs of individuals.

Inclusion is about creating a welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and integrated into the community. It means fostering a sense of belonging and psychological safety, ensuring that diverse perspectives are not only heard but also respected and valued.

Together, these elements aim to eliminate systemic bias and unconscious bias, promote accessibility, and foster a sense of belonging for all individuals. 


As discussed earlier, diversity encompasses the wide range of differences among people, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, socioeconomic status, and neurodiversity. Recognizing and valuing these differences is essential for creating a richer, more inclusive environment. Consequently, diversity isn’t just about having a mix of people; it’s about understanding, appreciating, and leveraging the unique perspectives and experiences that each individual brings.

Understanding and embracing diversity is crucial for fostering an inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging. This is not merely about ticking boxes but about creating a space where all individuals, especially those from underrepresented groups, can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives. Scholars like Scott Page, in his book “The Difference,” argue that diversity drives innovation and creativity, leading to enhanced problem-solving and better financial performance.

A diverse organization is better equipped to understand and meet the needs of a multicultural customer base, enhancing customer satisfaction and brand reputation.

  • Did you know, diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets.
  • Sales revenue increases 15-fold among companies with high racial diversity
  • More than 3 in 4 job seekers are looking at diversity when deciding whether to accept a job offer

Furthermore, it promotes social justice by ensuring that opportunities and resources are accessible to all, regardless of their background. This commitment to diversity can be seen in affirmative action policies and diversity recruitment strategies designed to mitigate systemic bias and unconscious bias.

Types of Diversity

Race and Ethnicity:

These refer to the cultural and physical characteristics that distinguish different groups of people. Embracing racial and ethnic diversity means acknowledging the varied backgrounds and experiences that shape individuals’ identities.


Gender diversity includes representation of different genders, acknowledging both men and women, and those who identify as non-binary or gender-fluid. It’s crucial for ensuring that all gender identities feel seen and respected.

Read Is Imposter Syndrome Holding You Back? Why Women in Startups Might Struggle More (and How to Win)’ on ANC Global Insights


Age diversity involves including people of different ages within a group. This diversity brings a mix of generational perspectives, which enhances innovation and decision-making.


Religious diversity means respecting and valuing different religious beliefs and practices. It fosters an environment where individuals can freely express their faith.


This encompasses physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Promoting disability diversity involves creating an accessible environment where individuals with disabilities can thrive.

Socioeconomic Status:

Socioeconomic diversity includes people from different economic backgrounds. It helps in understanding and addressing the challenges faced by individuals from varying financial situations.


Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of human brains and minds, highlighting the natural variations in cognitive functioning. This concept encompasses conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other neurological differences. Neurodiversity challenges the traditional view that these conditions are deficits or disorders that need to be cured or treated. Instead, it promotes the understanding that neurological differences are natural and valuable variations of human cognition.

Definition of Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is a term coined by sociologist Judy Singer in the late 1990s to shift the focus from viewing neurological conditions as medical deficits to recognizing them as part of the natural spectrum of human variation. The neurodiversity movement argues that people with neurological differences must be accepted and supported rather than marginalized or pathologized.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Individuals with ASD often exhibit a wide range of behaviors, interests, and abilities. While some may face challenges with social interactions and communication, others may excel in areas such as pattern recognition, attention to detail, and logical reasoning.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): People with ADHD may have difficulty with executive functions such as organization, time management, and sustained attention. However, they often demonstrate high levels of creativity, enthusiasm, and problem-solving skills.
  • Dyslexia: This learning difference affects reading and writing skills, but individuals with dyslexia often have strong spatial reasoning, creative thinking, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Dyspraxia: A condition affecting motor coordination, dyspraxia can impact tasks requiring fine motor skills. However, individuals with dyspraxia often show strengths in areas such as strategic thinking and creativity.

Promoting neurodiversity means creating an environment where neurological differences are recognized and valued. This includes implementing inclusive practices that support diverse cognitive styles and ensuring accessibility accommodations that help neurodiverse individuals thrive.

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ANC Global's Neurodiversity Offerings

Discover the Benefits of Embracing Neurodiversity and Explore the Advantages it can bring to your Team and Business.

Why is Diversity Important in the Workplace?

In today’s globalized world, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just a social responsibility – it’s a smart business decision. As highlighted by Rocio Lorenzo, a leader in diversity and inclusion research, diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones due to their ability to draw upon a wide range of perspectives and experiences. By embracing diversity, organizations not only cultivate a more welcoming environment but also unlock a wealth of benefits that drive business growth and success.

Driving Innovation and Creativity

According to recent studies, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders. As previously stated diverse teams bring varied perspectives and ideas, which lead to creative solutions and breakthrough innovations. When employees from different backgrounds collaborate, they can approach problems from multiple angles, fostering an environment where innovation thrives.

Enhancing Financial Performance

Diversity directly impacts a company’s bottom line. Based on the analysis of 2019 organizational data by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity within executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability compared to those in the fourth quartile. This likelihood of outperformance has increased over time, demonstrating the growing importance of gender diversity.

Additionally, companies where more than 30 percent of executives are women were 48 percent more likely to outperform those with only 10 to 30 percent female representation.

The business case for ethnic and cultural diversity is equally strong. In 2019, companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36 percent in profitability. This highlights that ethnic diversity in leadership and workforce can significantly boost a company’s financial performance.

Expanding Market Reach

As previously stated, diverse companies are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets. A workforce that reflects a wide range of backgrounds and experiences allows companies to understand and cater to diverse customer bases better. As a result, these companies can identify and tap into new market opportunities more effectively.

Improving Decision-Making

Inclusive teams make better business decisions twice as fast. When diverse perspectives are considered, teams can evaluate options more thoroughly and come to more balanced and well-informed decisions. This agility in decision-making can give companies a competitive edge in rapidly changing markets.

Boosting Sales Revenue

Sales revenue increases 15-fold among companies with high racial diversity. This statistic underscores the substantial economic benefits of fostering a racially diverse workforce. A diverse team can better understand and meet the needs of a diverse customer base, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Attracting Top Talent

According to McKinsey, more than 3 in 4 job seekers consider diversity when deciding whether to accept a job offer. Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more attractive to potential employees. This can be a decisive factor in recruiting top talent, as candidates look for workplaces that value equality and inclusivity.

Employee Support and Sentiment

Most employees support diversity, with overall sentiment on diversity being 52 percent positive and 31 percent negative. While there is strong support for diversity, there are still challenges around inclusion, particularly regarding equality and fairness of opportunity. Despite the positive sentiment, progress in building diverse workforces remains stubbornly slow, indicating the need for continued efforts in promoting both diversity and inclusion.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


As previously explored, equity is crucial for creating a fair and just environment. It helps level the playing field by addressing systemic barriers that underrepresented groups often face. For instance, equity in the workplace involves not only providing equal pay for equal work but also ensuring that all employees have access to the resources and support they need to succeed.

To illustrate the concept of equity, let’s look at an example. 

Imagine a company where two employees, Ayesha and Bob, are up for a promotion. Ayesha has faced significant systemic barriers in her career due to her gender, ethnicity or religious background, while Bob has had ample opportunities and support. Equity means acknowledging these differences and providing Alice with the resources and support she needs to compete fairly with Bob. As a result, this approach ensures that all employees are compensated fairly, regardless of their gender, race, or other characteristics.

Equity goes beyond treating everyone the same. It recognizes and addresses the unique needs and circumstances of individuals, ensuring that everyone has fair opportunities to succeed. By prioritizing equity, organizations can create a more inclusive, productive, and innovative environment where all employees can thrive.

Why is Equity Important in the Workplace?

Equity is vital in the workplace because it ensures fairness, equal opportunities, and access to resources for all employees, regardless of their background or circumstances. Here’s why equity matters:

  • Equal Opportunities: Equity ensures that all employees have the same opportunities for advancement, growth, and success, regardless of factors such as race, gender, or socioeconomic status. It levels the playing field and promotes meritocracy, where individuals are rewarded based on their skills, abilities, and contributions rather than extraneous factors. (Read ANC Global’s Leadership and Capability Development Solutions)

  • Access to Resources: Equity ensures that all employees have access to the resources and support they need to thrive in their roles. This includes access to training, mentorship, career development opportunities, and necessary accommodations for individuals with different abilities. By providing equitable access to resources, organizations empower all employees to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the organization’s success.

  • Fair Treatment: Equity ensures that all employees are treated fairly and without discrimination. It involves implementing policies and practices that promote fairness and equality in areas such as recruitment, hiring, promotion, and compensation. By fostering a culture of equity, organizations demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as social justice, which enhances employee morale, engagement, and loyalty.

  • Retention and Engagement: Employees are more likely to stay with organizations where they feel valued, respected, and treated equitably. Equity promotes a sense of trust and loyalty among employees, reducing turnover rates and increasing employee retention. It also enhances employee engagement by fostering a sense of fairness and belonging, which leads to higher levels of motivation, commitment, and job satisfaction. (Read ANC Global’s Employee Engagement and Culture Solutions)

  • Legal and Ethical Obligations: Equity is not only a moral imperative but also a legal and ethical obligation for organizations. Discrimination and unfair treatment based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, or disability are not only unethical but also illegal. By prioritizing equity, organizations mitigate legal risks and uphold their commitment to ethical business practices and social responsibility.

What is the Difference between Equity and Equality?

When it comes to creating fairness in the workplace, we often hear about equity and equality. But what’s the difference between them, and why does it matter? Let’s break it down.

Equity is all about ensuring fairness by recognizing and addressing the diverse needs of individuals. It’s like giving everyone the tools they need to succeed, even if those tools look different for each person. Think of it as leveling the playing field by acknowledging that not everyone starts from the same place.

Equality, on the other hand, is about treating everyone the same, regardless of their circumstances. It sounds fair, but it doesn’t always lead to fair outcomes. Why? Because it doesn’t account for the fact that different people may need different levels of support to achieve the same goals.

Here’s a simple example: Imagine you’re handing out computer monitors in the office.

  • Equality: You give everyone the same standard-sized monitor. Seems fair, right? But what if some employees have visual impairments and need larger screens or special software to read text? They’re not getting the same opportunity to do their job effectively.

  • Equity: Instead of one-size-fits-all, you provide monitors tailored to individual needs. That way, everyone has equal access to information and can perform their tasks to the best of their abilities.

So, why does this distinction matter? Because prioritizing equity ensures that everyone has a fair shot at success, regardless of their background or circumstances. By understanding and embracing equity, organizations can create a more inclusive and supportive environment where every individual can thrive.


If diversity is the foundation, then inclusion is what truly builds a thriving and successful workplace. It’s ensuring that all employees, regardless of their backgrounds or differences, have a sense of belonging and can contribute fully to the organization. When employees feel included, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work. 

According to a white paper by Cloverpop, inclusive teams actually make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, and they make those decisions twice as fast within half as many meetings. Decisions made and executed by diverse teams also delivered 60% better results, maximizing business performance substantially.

Importance of Inclusion in the Workplace

Building an inclusive workplace is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and commitment from leadership. However, the benefits of a truly inclusive environment are undeniable. By fostering a space where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered, you unlock the full potential of your workforce and pave the way for a more successful and innovative future for your company.

  • Creating a Welcoming Environment: Inclusion fosters a culture where everyone feels welcome, celebrated, and able to bring their whole selves to work without fear of discrimination or exclusion.

  • Fostering a Sense of Belonging: A sense of belonging is crucial for employee satisfaction and loyalty. When employees feel connected to their colleagues and the organization’s mission, they are more likely to stay, reducing turnover rates and building a stable, cohesive workforce.

  • Valuing Diverse Perspectives: Inclusive workplaces actively seek out and value diverse perspectives, leading to better decision-making and innovative problem-solving. Different viewpoints provide new insights and solutions that drive positive change.

  • Enhancing Psychological Safety: Inclusion fosters psychological safety, where employees feel safe to speak up, share ideas, and take risks without fear of negative consequences. This promotes collaboration and leads to higher productivity and job satisfaction. (Also read more about ANC Global’s Employee Mental Health and Psychological Safety (EMHPS) Matrix)

  • Boosting Performance: As previously stated, inclusive teams make better business decisions twice as fast and with half the meetings. When everyone feels included and valued, engagement and commitment to work increase, translating into better performance and higher productivity.

The History of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) have evolved through a dynamic history influenced by social, political, and economic movements. Rooted in responses to systemic discrimination, DEI principles began gaining traction alongside affirmative action policies in the 1960s, aiming to rectify historical inequities.

As DEI concepts matured, corporate diversity initiatives emerged in the late 20th century, focusing on hiring practices, representation, and inclusive workplace cultures. Over time, these initiatives evolved beyond mere representation to encompass broader aims of inclusion and equity.

In the early 21st century, globalization accelerated the need for DEI in the workplace, prompting organizations to embrace diverse perspectives and cultural dynamics. In tandem, legal frameworks like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent equal employment opportunity regulations provided a foundation for DEI policies and practices.

Policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 addressed specific inequities, mandating fair treatment and access to opportunities for individuals with disabilities and gender equity in pay, respectively. These policies laid the groundwork for broader DEI initiatives by enforcing legal protections and promoting workplace fairness.

Despite legislative strides, challenges such as unconscious bias and systemic barriers persist. However, organizations increasingly recognize the business imperative of DEI, with studies highlighting its correlation with financial performance and innovation.

Intersectionality and DEI

Intersectionality is a crucial concept in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) that highlights the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, gender, class, and more. Coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality explains how these overlapping identities create unique experiences of discrimination and privilege.

Crenshaw’s seminal work on intersectionality has paved the way for extensive research and discussion in various fields. Her article, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex,” is foundational in explaining how traditional approaches to discrimination law fail to address the complexities of multiple identities. Scholars like Patricia Hill Collins have also contributed significantly to this discourse, particularly through works like “Black Feminist Thought,” which explores the intersection of race, gender, and class

What is Intersectionality?


Intersectionality recognizes that people experience multiple forms of discrimination simultaneously. For example, a Black woman might face both racial and gender discrimination, which intersect to create a distinct form of bias that neither Black men nor white women face. This concept is essential for understanding the full spectrum of diversity and the complexity of individual identities.

For us at ANC Global, our DEI strategies and approaches are all rooted with a focus on intersectionality. From our leadership team, CEO to our consultants, our lives and work is shaped by diversity of experience and thought. Our approach is not just designed from subject matter experience and expertise but also, our own lived experiences. 

The Role of Intersectionality in DEI


Incorporating intersectionality into DEI initiatives ensures that policies and practices consider the multifaceted nature of individual experiences. Here’s why intersectionality is vital for DEI:

  • Holistic Approach: Intersectionality provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing inequality. It acknowledges that single-axis frameworks (focusing on one aspect of identity) are insufficient to capture the full extent of discrimination and privilege.

  • Inclusive Policies: By considering intersectionality, organizations can develop more inclusive policies that address the needs of individuals at the intersections of multiple identities. This leads to more effective DEI strategies that benefit everyone.

  • Enhanced Understanding: Intersectionality promotes a deeper understanding of how various forms of discrimination overlap and compound. This awareness helps in identifying and dismantling systemic barriers that affect underrepresented groups.

DEI in Practice

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in practice is about transforming principles into actionable strategies that create welcoming, fair, and dynamic workplaces. This involves developing policies and practices that actively promote diverse perspectives, equitable opportunities, and inclusive environments. At ANC Global, we specialize in helping organizations navigate these complex challenges with innovative yet practical employee solutions are tailored to their unique needs and budgets.

How DEI Works in Practice

Diversity Recruitment

To build a diverse workforce, organizations need robust recruitment strategies that attract talent from various backgrounds. This includes outreach to underrepresented groups, utilizing diverse hiring panels, leveraging AI tools and ensuring job descriptions are inclusive.

(Read 18 Best AI Recruitment Tools in 2024)

Inclusive Leadership

Leaders play a crucial role in fostering an inclusive culture. This means leading by example, promoting open communication, and actively seeking diverse perspectives in decision-making processes. ANC Global’s leadership development programs are designed to equip leaders with the skills needed to champion DEI initiatives.

Unconscious Bias Training

One of the biggest barriers to DEI is unconscious bias. Training programs help employees recognize and mitigate their biases, creating a more inclusive workplace. ANC Global offers comprehensive training sessions that address unconscious bias, helping organizations create fairer environments.  (Read more about ANC Global’s Gender Sensitization Solutions)

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs provide a platform for employees to connect, share experiences, and support each other. These groups can advocate for the needs of their members and contribute to policy development. ANC Global assists in establishing and managing ERGs to enhance employee engagement and inclusion.

Accessibility Accommodations 

Ensuring that workplaces are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities, is a critical aspect of DEI. This involves physical accommodations, as well as accessible technology and flexible work arrangements.

ANC Global’s Role in DEI


With over two decades of experience in hands-on human development across 20+ markets, ANC Global brings a wealth of knowledge in addressing DEI challenges. Our approach is grounded in strong multinational corporate experiences in global emerging markets, enabling us to provide solutions that are both innovative and affordable.

Customized DEI Solutions: At ANC Global, we design DEI solutions tailored to your current and future employees and leaders. We understand that each organization faces unique economic challenges and uncertainties, and our aim is to support you with strategies that foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Global Perspective: Operating in emerging markets has given ANC Global a unique perspective on the importance of DEI. We leverage this experience to help organizations implement effective DEI practices that resonate across different cultural contexts.

Commitment to Innovation: Our commitment to innovation ensures that our DEI solutions are not only effective but also sustainable. We continuously adapt our strategies to meet the evolving needs of the workforce and the global marketplace.

DEI in practice is about creating actionable strategies that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations. ANC Global is dedicated to being your right hand in this endeavor, providing the expertise and support needed to navigate these challenges. By partnering with us, you can build a workplace that is not only inclusive and equitable but also positioned for long-term success.

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