Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, And Belonging (DEIB) aren’t just HR catch phrases or new slogans; they can be used to help business and employees thrive. The aim is to create a work environment where all feel welcome, listened to and provided with similar opportunities.

So, what is DEIB?

DEIB is focused on the idea that there are certain employees in the workplace that are at a disadvantage due to unfair bias. DIEB therefore focuses on how organizations can this problem by developing a workplace structure that focuses on these four concepts:

Diversity is about what makes people unique. It focuses on the differences in ways of thinking, communication styles, race, gender etc. However, this is only a starting point, because how they are treated within the organization is just as essential.

Equity recognizes that because everyone has a different set of circumstances, they should be provided with tailor-made support. The goal is to enable everyone to have equal outcomes. (This should not be confused with equality, which means each individual or group is given the same resources or opportunities.) For example, in an equal organization, each employee receives X hours of computer training. But what about employees who are still not up to speed within the set training hours? The principle of equity states that they would be given additional hours of instruction until they are up to par with the rest.

Inclusion focuses on people’s differences and informs the way an organization creates policies and practices. It also means listening to diverse perspectives. It might be great to have a diverse and skilled team, but that still does not ensure equal participation. In an inclusive organization, employees can freely express their views without fear. Furthermore, they are able to receive constructive feedback with their opinions given due consideration.

Belonging is the sense of acceptance and inclusion in an organization or group by an employee. It’s when an individual feels treated like an ‘insider’ and can bring their authentic self to work. Belonging is the result of inclusion efforts. The idea of belonging stems from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and is essential for self-actualization.

Why it is important?

Organizations that champion DEIB understand the importance of involving more voices, providing equal opportunities, making wok a safe place and acknowledging the different challenges faced by historically marginalized groups.

What are the benefits of DEIB?

  • Increased Engagement & Productivity: Employees are more engaged and productive at work when they feel they are included and working toward shared goals.
  • Reduced Turnover: DEIB focused companies experience less employee turnover and greater job satisfaction due to provision of equal career advancement opportunities.
  • Improved Profitability: Organizations with executive teams in the top quartile of gender diversity were 25% more likely to experience “above-average profitability” compared to peer companies in the fourth quartile, according to a 2019 report titled “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters” from McKinsey & Company.
  • Outperform the Competition: The 2019 McKinsey & Company report found, organizations with 30% of women in executive roles outperformed those with 10–30%—which, in turn, performed better than those with fewer or no executive-level women.
  • Greater Innovation: According to an analysis from global consulting firm BCG, companies with greater diversity boasted nearly double (45%) the average innovation revenue (income from new products and services launched in the last three years) than those with below-average diversity scores (26%).

Challenges of DEIB

Getting buy-in
At times the leadership of a company isn’t ready to start their DEIB journey due to lack of understanding of why it’s important. There is evidence to show the impact of fostering a diverse workforce where people feel they belong.

Resistance to change
People tend to resist new practices due to discomfort or threats to their own privileges or unconscious biases in the workplace.

How can Leadership foster DEIB?

Here are suggested considerations that leadership should take note of when looking to drive DIEB in the workplace.

  1. DIEB initiatives must be supported by all levels of leadership.
    Having a clear organization wide communication plan of DEIB initiatives is vital to ensuring practices are supported at every level of the organization.
  2. Have a DEIB strategy.
    Real and impactful change is not possible unless a clear strategy has been developed, communicated and implemented through strong DEIB practices.
  3. Understand overall impact on the organization.
    Employees or customers need to see themselves represented within an organization for DEIB to have an impact. Leadership must understand that DEIB in an organization ultimately serves to improve the organization itself—not just the experience of equity-deserving groups who are employees or customers.
  4. Focus on consistency and measure progress.
    Any organization on the path to becoming more inclusive will definitely make mistakes. The ability to be agile and adapt in these situations will determine the level of success. A DEIB strategy will have performance metrics for measuring progress in line with set objectives that will help steer corrective action should it be required.The demographics of the workforce in Sub Saharan African and across the world are ever-changing, and changes will only accelerate in the coming decades. The actions taken by leaders today to implement stronger DEIB practices will give the required foundation needed for impact and a better bottom line in the future.


The leadership of an organization is therefore key in driving the DEIB strategy in the workplace. Driving DEIB within an organization builds stronger teams, fosters creativity, improves business growth, and helps attract – and retain – top talent. Nearly 80% of employees report that they expect their leadership to implement DEIB initiatives to create meaningful change.

The companies that will thrive today and in the near future are those that have understood the importance of DEIB and have invested in using DEIB strategies as part of their competitive advantage.

For starters Gen Z are people born between 1995-2012. This is a generation whose identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate change effects, a shifting financial landscape and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a global research report by Steelcase, a global office furniture company, 54% of Gen Z workers believe the value of the workplace actually increased over the pandemic. In comparison only 42% of Millennials, 30% of Gen X, and 23% of Boomers believe the value of the workplace actually increased over the pandemic. The report also showed that 73% of Gen Z believes space is highly or extremely important to the effectiveness of the company they work for.

Africa as a continent has the youngest population in the world, with 70% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30. Such a high number of Gen Z’s is an opportunity for the continent’s growth – but only if this generation is fully empowered to realize their best potential as this represents the continents human capital workforce for the foreseeable future. In addition to this Gen Z will represent almost a third of the global workforce by 2025 and will play a big role in shifting attitudes and perceptions.

What does Gen Z want from the future of work?

Gen Z is already becoming the dominant consumer group and culture driver. Companies will need to appeal to this generation if they want to stay relevant and competitive. While Gen Z’s identity is still forming, it’s critical that employers understand the unique challenges this generation faces and support them as they begin their careers. If they don’t, they risk getting left behind.

In a 2021 survey conducted by Adobe, 59% of Gen Z respondents reported feeling dissatisfied with their job. Struggles with work-life balance, long work hours, time stress, and a lack of flexibility were other leading causes of dissatisfaction, with 57% percent saying they felt pressured to be reachable at all times of the day.

The research by Adobe also found that 62% of Gen Z surveyed globally felt pressured to work from 9 am to 6 pm despite feeling more productive at other hours of the day. 26% reported feeling most productive from 6 pm to 3 am—nearly 10% points higher than any other generation reported feeling during that time.

Research shows Gen Z does favor a return to office but not full-time. In a survey conducted by the Workforce Institute in 2019, 51% of Gen Z respondents said they were motivated by enjoyable work. With 57% saying they expect to be promoted once a year, career advancement and meaningful recognition are also big motivators. Gen Z values salary less compared to other generations although it is a factor considered in deciding whether or not to take up a job: If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.

What does this mean for employers?

Given Gen Z has the ability to demand greater personalization in shaping their career paths, for organizations to attract and retain the best of the generation, it will require a different mindset. A few recommendations for employers are;

  • A company should provide opportunities for career growth and advancement. Gen Zs prefer to work with organizations that have an internal promotion policy and companies need to have learning and development programs that they have access to and based on learnings and competencies exhibited or developed growth opportunities taken up.
  • Gen Zs are open-minded and have a preference for a work environment with diverse cultural, racial, sexual, and educational backgrounds and orientations. Companies will therefore need to promote diversity and inclusion as part of it’s culture.
  • A company needs to embrace technology and meet the technology needs of this generation to help improve work efficiency and productivity. Remember, this generation has little or no knowledge of life before the internet, social media, and smart devices.
  • Leverage the expertise of Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers to help mentor Gen Z into strong leaders as they are the future of the workplace.
  • A company or employer will need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. The Environmental, Social and Governance Strategy of the company will enhance reputation and ability to attract and retain Gen Z talent.
  • Research has shown that Gen Zs have a tendency to feel stressed easily. In light of this, companies should invest in employee wellness programs that will encourage work life balance and focus on mental wellness too.

Gen Z is ready to build a better future not only for themselves but also for the future generations and the older workers who have gone before them. Whether this future involves working for your company will be determined by the ability of the business to adapt and respond to the generational requirements.

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