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DEI - Is It Relevant For Small Companies?

Photo by Thirdman from Pexels:
Diverse men and women shaking hands

The concepts of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are something that more companies have been increasingly embracing. More large organizations have been showing solidarity with more marginal groups, setting some positive precedents and reaping some practical rewards in the process.

This progress does, however, come with a subsequence: for smaller companies without the same scope and reach, DEI can be seen as an intimidating prospect. In this article, we hope to explain this intimidation and possibly even try to dissuade managers of smaller companies from feeling the same way.

At the core of the issue, there are two factors that make DEI feel less surmountable to smaller companies compared to larger conglomerates, the first of which is money. From the outside, embracing DEI from its various avenues can be seen as a pricey endeavour - and this goes beyond some of the extravagances that can come with DEI, like observing all the different events and holidays throughout the year. Trying to practically accommodate a wide berth of people with different backgrounds and abilities, making sure they have enough resources to make everybody comfortable, can be undeniably expensive, and many smaller companies believe they do not have the budget to justify it.

That leads to the other underlying issue for smaller companies: reach. Embracing DEI is arguably much easier for large organizations because they are often well-known and wide-reaching enough that they can justify the potential costs. Ultimately, brand awareness is an important factor in the effectiveness of DEI initiatives; people have to know about the organization and what they are doing, which is where many small companies that maybe don’t have a very wide reach face a hurdle they feel they cannot clear.

While it is understandable that a smaller company would be hesitant to embrace DEI for the aforementioned reasons, they really shouldn’t be. No matter the scale of the results, a company can benefit greatly from embracing diversity and inclusion. The many perks that come from a more diverse and inclusive workplace - a wider variety of ideas and perspectives, an increased customer and network base, etc. - are absolutely worth the undertaking.

So what can smaller companies do to practice DEI?

There are many ways a company can show themselves to be more inclusive and welcoming with focused awareness and attention, rather than through massive investment. Perhaps the most obvious is being open and inclusive in your company’s hiring practices - i.e. being open to applicants from various backgrounds and potential disAbilities. Even if you lack the funds for the appropriate resources, you can still have a basic understanding of what you need to accommodate disAbilities by encouraging disclosing such information by asking the candidates what they need, and showing that you are open to talking to your staff about it. The staff will be open to talking about it in turn. The same can apply to events and holidays. What you do for these dates need not be extravagant; just show that you are curious and appreciative of it. A show of solidarity will go a long way.

That is ultimately what embracing DEI should boil down to for smaller companies - a show of solidarity and understanding for the various marginalized groups in your network. If you can show that your company truly cares about embracing different kinds of people and ingratiating them into your workforce, it will not matter if your company’s resulting actions are only small steps. They say that actions speak louder than words, and whatever your company decides to do, your staff will notice and appreciate it.


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