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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): Why Environment Matters Too

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – otherwise known as DEI – and why is it important?
employees of different colors arms around each standing in front of a blackboard

Businesses and organizations realize that it isn’t just about the comfort of the CEO these days, but the comfort of their employees to ensure a job well done – and that’s why DEI was created.

What is DEI, why was it created, what does it stand for? Should the Environment be included in DEI?

What is DEI?

DEI is short for “Diversity”, “Equity”, and “Inclusion” –  and it is a practice aimed to help people from different ethnic backgrounds to feel safe and supported in their contributions at the workplace. To break the definition of DEI down, it’s important to understand each component of DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Diversity is when various backgrounds are present in a single setting – such as several races, gender, identities ages, and socioeconomic classes working for the same company. Equity is the effort to make sure that all programs and processes remain objective, and allow each individual the chance at finding success or receiving a promotion, scholarship, or an award. and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual. Lastly, Inclusion is when an effort is made to make all people a part of a work team feel essential and valuable – so that everyone can feel like a compulsory piece to the puzzle of the company’s mission.

Think of a car: just because the outer body that everyone else sees, kind of like the face of the company of the CEO, is functioning – doesn’t mean the car could run without all of the moving parts inside. Think of the engine, connectors, and other parts of the car as the employees. DEI serves to make all the employees comfortable, because just like a car – it couldn’t function with just one person.

When it comes to implementing DEI into a workplace, HR, or Human Resources – is responsible for ensuring a smooth and efficient DEI system is in place. Why is it important for HR to cultivate a successful DEI system?

Why is DEI important? 

In order to fully understand the importance of DEI, it’s essential to understand each individual component of DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Diversity has become increasingly pivotal over the last few years, as it’s imperative in any workplace seeking global success – as the wide variety of perspectives offered by companies with diversity is indispensable.

For instance, if a company is trying to sell a product or service globally – it would be hard to carefully craft that product or service with various viewpoints in mind if the staff wasn’t diverse to begin with. Some may think that the internet could serve as a quick fix here, but the truth is – nothing can replace real-life experience from real people. This is precisely what diversity amongst the work force accomplishes.  

It also allows for the creation of innovative products or services that might otherwise never be created without a diverse team. Overall, diversity is imperative as it allows for a more well-rounded, suitable product that can be specifically tailored according to the appropriate audience. 

Think of diversity as a musical band: in order to establish a unique sound, each band member should have a different background in music. If the guitar player is into pop and the drummer has settled roots in reggae, the band members may be able to create a new sound they wouldn’t have otherwise if all of the band members were strictly based in pop music. The same goes for diversity in the workplace.


Equity helps to ensure that all individuals are given an equal sense of purpose in the workforce. While it’s common for people to group “equity” and “equality” under the same meaning, the two are very different.  

Equality is when each person or group is provided with the same opportunities regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic class – whereas equity is when the place in question understands that each person or ground involved enters the situation with different circumstances, and strives to provide the specific opportunities necessary for each individual based on their background.

A great example of this is when American college students apply for financial aid through FAFSA. If a future student with two working parents applies for financial aid, and meets the threshold of being able to pay the tuition – they’re unlikely to get financial aid. However, if the student comes from a single-parented household and is the first in their family to attend college – it is likely that they will receive more financial aid. This is an example of equity as it depicts allocating the resources to those who need it the most, while still providing the same end goal to both parties – a college education.

Equity helps to support diversity amongst the workforce, by ensuring that all the opportunities and resources are equally divided amongst the team.


Have you ever felt like you were sitting through a meeting, with a million great ideas on the tip of your tongue – but no one ever let you get a word in?

This is exactly what inclusion in DEI strives to avoid from happening, by promoting that all employees have valuable ideas worth listening to, despite their backgrounds in diversity and equity.  If people feel like the belong in the team they are in, they are more likely to produce high quality work. Whereas if someone does not feel included in the workplace will feel silenced, and will be less likely to share their ideas over time. 

Inclusion amongst the workforce should feel very similar to how employees feel with their friends outside of work. With real friends, you don’t feel like you need to change anything about yourself: you simply show up as you are. If the same environment is created amongst the workplace, employees will feel comfortable and included in the conversation.

How can HR implement DEI?

In order for the HR department of a company to build a successful DEI program, four important steps are required: to build trust, have a clear motive for implementing the DEI, getting comfortable with uncomfortable situations that DEI will strive to handle, and always be open to learning more about diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

They say that without trust, a relationship has nothing – and the same goes for any DEI program. If colleagues can trust their bosses and co-workers, DEI is bound to be more successful. Therefore, trust serves as a prerequisite before implementing a DEI program. Also, a DEI program needs to serve a clear purpose – is the company trying to diversify the company for the sake of diversity, or do they genuinely want to promote the ideals of DEI? Having honest intentions is crucial to a successful DEI program.

Having a DEI program means that employees and HR need to get used to uncomfortable challenges: which will include trying to understand why certain things are not viable in a work environment striving to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. A DEI program will require everyone to be committed to continuous learning in order to keep creating the inclusive and respectful environment a DEI program needs to thrive. 

Has DEI been successful in other businesses so far?

Has DEI helped improve fairness amongst the workforce?

DEI used to be an added luxury until recently, as more companies are striving for corporate social responsibility and sustainability. However, given DEI is a relatively new program amongst many companies – it begs the question if DEI has been successful or not. 

While it’s hard to determine the overall success of DEI so far, big companies in tech like Netflix and Amazon have already demonstrated successful DEI programs. The two companies have different approaches to their DEI programs, but ultimately exhibit how a good DEI program can help lead a company to greater success. For instance, Netflix prides itself on the fact that only 45% of their company is white – with the rest of the corporation consisting of Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, and other ethnicities. Great T.V. shows and movies that are specifically tailored to certain demographics such as Crazy Rich Stupid Asians or Never Have I Ever can’t be created without a diverse team.

However, is there a part of DEI that’s missing that could aid in its overall missions?

How is the Environment related to DEI?

👉Despite the fact that it isn’t instant to think that the environment and DEI are intertwined, they both have one massive thing in common that’s growing in popularity amongst the business world: sustainability.  

It’s no secret these days that businesses are striving to become more sustainable for investment opportunities, build better customer relationships, and help the world to reduce emissions. Sustainability isn’t just about reducing carbon emissions anymore, but about creating a viable workforce and efficient management systems to ensure a smooth and effective business. Therefore, DEI and the many environmental measures companies take these days have begun to serve the same purpose. If the two were to work together, it could help both a company’s DEI program and their environmental goals to be more successful. 

Could implementing the environment help to improve the DEI?

If you’re seeking to better understand how the DEI and the environment are related, there are several reasons why. For instance, inclusivity in the DEI requires team managers to acquire the intelligence to deal with diversity issues amongst the workplace. The same goes for leaders who must engage with third-party entities such as their company’s suppliers, meaning that the same skills used to maintain DEI can be used to implement environmental goals within a company.    

Both DEI and environmental targets work towards implementing stronger and stricter corporate policies. Therefore, incorporating the environment into DEI could help a company to ultimately improve upon their environmental goals – by demanding the same stringent efforts as required by the DEI. Diversity can help lead to creative ideas to reduce emissions, equity can help a company to recognize where they currently stand in terms of resources to reduce their emissions, and inclusion in DEI leads to more careful decision making, which is needed when implementing new environmental plans. In short, the values depicted in DEI can help influence better environmental choices within the company. 

Overall business strategy is key to a successful enterprise – and investors and stakeholders evaluate fair working conditions and environmental efforts equally prior to committing to an investment. The more financial resources a company has, the more change they are able to make – meaning that making the environment to be just as important as DEI can help a company to recruit the best possible employees and resources to improve their overall business performance.

A solid DEI program is really contingent on the HR department that is implementing them, however it is clear that keeping the environment in mind throughout any DEI program could help accentuate the success of both a companies goals towards staff consistency, fairness, and environmental targets – ultimately creating the most sustainable work environment possible. 

They say two is better than one, and when it comes to DEI and the environment – that is most certainly the case.

What about Greenly?

If reading this article about diversity, equity, and inclusion – otherwise known as DEI,  has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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