The Wills Group strives to foster an environment where everyone can succeed, feel a sense of belonging, and know they can make a difference.
We are committed to improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. More than just buzzwords, DEI is core to our mission of being the preferred choice for employees, customers, and business partners.
At the Wills Group, DEI is a promise and a strategy. It’s at the forefront of company culture recruitment, employee recognition and promotion, and innovation. And we’re continually challenging ourselves to do more.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion means, how it impacts workplace culture, and how the Wills Group incorporates DEI into its business strategies and operational procedures.
What is Diversity, Really?
Diversity refers to the differences between people and groups of people. These differences include anything that makes us unique and provides us with unique perspectives and life experiences.
That can mean anything from visible differences like gender, race, age, or physical disability as well as invisible differences like religion, sexual orientation, cultural background or even economic class, personality traits, and learning disabilities.
A couple decades ago, workplace diversity initiatives were focused on opening up more roles to women and to people of color. While it was a limited focus, the companies who achieved greater racial, ethnic and gender diversity recognized large gains in financial performance.
Other organizations soon followed and expanded their diversity initiatives. They developed new benefits and perks to appeal to people of all different backgrounds. Flexible work options, remote work, and access to mental health counseling are just a few ways that companies are attracting a diverse workforce.
Building a diverse workforce is only the first step, however. Creating fair and equitable access to opportunities is also critical to the DEI promise.
Equity, not Equality
Where diversity celebrates the differences between people, equity is a policy of fair access, opportunity, and advancement for everyone.
To create an equitable environment, employers must first even the playing field for all staff, and then distribute resources and accommodations to meet the unique needs of each person.
This is different from the concept of equality, where everyone is given the same resources and the same treatment. Equity goes beyond equality to customize resources and opportunities to ensure everyone has what they need to succeed.
Once diversity and equity are established, employers must then promote inclusion and a sense of belonging in all organizational processes.
What is Inclusion in the workplace?
A diverse workforce is meaningless without inclusion.
To promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, leadership teams need to incorporate the different views and perspectives of their diverse staff into business decisions and organizational processes.
It’s not merely enough to advance women or people of color to senior leadership positions. Their views and contributions should be respected and valued at the highest level.
Employees thrive under inclusive leadership. They want to know that their contributions have made an impact on the business. They want their suggestions to be heard. And they especially want to know that the work they do makes a difference.
Employees want opportunities to advance, but not because it provides good corporate PR. They want to feel welcome in their new leadership role and feel empowered to implement new ideas as they see fit.
An inclusive workplace also means that employees feel safe expressing their true selves and don’t feel like they need to hide the characteristics that make them unique.
These rules apply to senior management as well as individual staff. To achieve inclusion, everyone needs to respect one another’s unique voice and differences.
Benefits of DEI in the Workplace
Embracing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture is easier said than done. Long-held stigmas and internal biases mar even the most sincere efforts to change hiring practices.
Once achieved, however, organizations will realize increased staff engagement, reduced turnover, and other benefits to the bottom line.
For instance, among Great Place to Work® Certified companies, those with the most consistent workplace experiences among white employees and racial minorities alike saw 30% higher revenue growth.
Focusing your hiring practices on attracting and retaining a diverse talent pool also widens your chances of finding the right fit for your company. A candidate who’s a great fit in terms of skills, experience and culture will likely stay longer and be more engaged than others pulled from a homogenous talent pool.
Finally, diverse and inclusive workplaces are generally more creative. Per a 2019 report from the International Labour Organization, companies that incorporate diverse viewpoints into their product lines see a 59% increase in innovation and 37% better assessment of customer demand.
While practicing DEI in the workplace is the morally right thing to do, it’s also proven to be beneficial to business. Establishing a DEI-friendly workplace has a positive impact on innovation, revenue, growth, and employee satisfaction.
Fostering DEI at the Wills Group
We are dedicated to promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion across the Wills Group and our family of businesses, including Dash In, Splash In ECO Car Wash, and SMO Motor Fuels.
We’ve instilled key staff members who are responsible for developing programs and practices to further our DEI goals corporate-wide.
This summer, for example, we’re hosting a series of DEI workshops and courses for all team leaders and staff. Class participants will experience interactive exercises and learn how to manage and lead inclusively, which leads to higher levels of engagement and team performance.
In addition to foundational course work, we are challenging our team to test their knowledge and experiences through Accountability Partnerships and ongoing discussions amongst our teams. We are also educating on the value and benefits of Employee Resource Groups (ERG) and inviting our employees to come together organically to work on initiatives and activities that strengthen our culture, our talent and our communities.
Our employees reflect the diverse, caring, and family-minded communities we serve. We know that by including employee perspectives in our business processes we can be more effective at delivering the products and services that keep our customers’ Lives in Motion.
DEI is built into the foundation of every decision we make. As it continues to be our guiding light, we look forward to a more progressive and innovative future where every voice is heard and where every staff member is contributing to building better experiences for our customers and our communities.