The Business Case for DEI
The business impact of workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a widely discussed topic, sparking different views on implementing organizational change and tying it to corporate and financial success. Researchers have reported on the positive business impact of DEI initiatives on financial performance and employee engagement. Fostering an inclusive business environment with diverse experiences and opinions makes companies more robust, innovative, and resilient. I've experienced it firsthand at InCheck, and that's why I'm confident in our intention to make the company more diverse by making it more inclusive.
As CEO of InCheck, I champion and lead our DEI initiatives, a platform our co-founder and former CEO Andy Gallion was passionate about. Andy believed in creating a culture where difference is celebrated, respect is ensured, and all are welcome. His unwavering commitment to creating an inclusive culture ignited our efforts to develop and launch groundbreaking, company-wide DEI learning opportunities, listening sessions, and purposeful programming.
Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is now a centerpiece of InCheck's culture. I aim to continue to engrain this into our culture and processes so that InCheck achieves its goals by leveraging the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
To align our DEI initiatives with cultural impact and the bottom line, we focus on areas where we can engage all employees and trace the effects throughout our business. To that end, we focus our efforts on three areas for impact:
- Creating and building psychological safety
- Driving implicit biases out of our business operations
- Elevating DEI to business strategy
Sustaining Psychological Safety
To foster psychological safety at work, our leaders and managers play a crucial role in creating a supportive environment. We encourage open communication, actively listen to employees, show empathy, and provide constructive feedback.
Our leaders are responsible for ensuring that our employees know they won't be penalized or humiliated for speaking up, sharing ideas, making mistakes, or asking questions. Employees are more likely to contribute fully to the organization and be engaged in their work.
So, how does sustained psychological safety contribute to a company's success?
Here are some key characteristics we've observed and attributed to positive impacts on the business.
- Supportive environment: Our workplace fosters a culture of support and collaboration rather than competition or blame. Mistakes are seen as learning opportunities. Employees are more willing to take risks and experiment with new ideas, which can lead to creativity and business innovation.
- Improved productivity and job satisfaction: Employees who feel safe will likely be more engaged, motivated, and willing to contribute their best efforts. This work environment makes employees more satisfied and less likely to seek alternative employment opportunities.
- Better problem-solving: When employees feel comfortable speaking up, they can identify and address issues promptly, leading to more effective problem-solving.
- Reduced stress and burnout: Feeling psychologically safe reduces stress and anxiety, leading to improved well-being and lower rates of burnout.
Driving Implicit Biases Out of Our Business Operations
Implicit bias impacts employees, customers, their candidates, and our community. The business impacts are real: employee engagement and turnover are two consequences of not addressing workplace bias. A Harvard Business Review and University of Chicago study found that employees who perceived discrimination at work were three times as likely to plan on leaving their job and four times as likely to feel alienated at work.
To examine the role of bias within InCheck and our business, we took time to educate ourselves as a management team and across the organization. As an employer, bias can infiltrate our hiring decisions and internal decision-making matrices. As a background check service provider, our work involves helping companies make non-biased hiring decisions on candidates. Therefore as an industry leader, we can play a role in building and improving awareness and understanding of implicit bias and how it impacts our workforce and work culture.
Elevating the Core Elements of DEI to a Business Strategy
Before introducing our DEI initiatives to our employees and customers, we researched case studies of businesses to understand the best practices and lessons learned. One of the early insights we observed was that the most successful DEI initiatives were labeled something other than an HR project or a short-term program. Instead, the DEI initiative was part of a long-term, cross-functional strategy the Executive Leadership team championed.
At InCheck, we balance the reporting structure with the company strategy and ongoing commitment to company-wide DEI training and discussions so that employees understand how important these efforts are to our business's success. Externally, we look for opportunities to partner with organizations that share our mission to make hiring more informative, inclusive, and equitable. A recent example of this strategy is our partnership with The Way Out, a second chance employment platform provider. Our collaboration aims to offer employers and candidates a seamless experience in conducting background checks while providing valuable educational resources to promote Fair Chance Hiring.
I believe our partnership with The Way Out and our commitment to promoting Fair Chance Hiring practices are a great way to achieve our business mission while using our influence to educate employers and address the systems that negatively impact justice-involved communities.
Building the Business Case for InCheck
At InCheck, we offer personalized background screening and drug testing solutions. We are committed to delivering excellent customer service, expert guidance on best practices, compliance knowledge, efficient technology solutions, and fast turnaround times.
Our mission is to deliver accurate, tailored background screening services while creating unrivaled experiences. We aim to help people get jobs by assisting employers to "screen in" rather than “screen out” candidates.
Diversity broadens our mindset, making us better. Our employees enjoy working in an environment where they can share their perspectives and ideas and see them implemented. And as a result, they are more engaged and more likely to stick around. It's great news for our company and clients because it allows us to deliver consistent, high-quality service from teams that are engaged, knowledgeable, and vested in InCheck and our client's success. That increase in productivity and innovation directly impacts our bottom line.
All of this comes back to our reputation. We don't consider ourselves a tech company providing clients with data. We've built a service-centric organization where our teams and leaders serve our clients, their candidates, and each other. We are all here for a reason, and as a service provider, our purpose must be to serve others.
The InCheck Leadership team frequently discusses how to live our values, what defines us as an organization, and what makes us truly unique. Two things stand out: our purpose to serve others and the people-first culture we've built and fostered. We identified three strategic pillars that align with our company vision and mission: purpose, people, and progress. Our commitment to DEI is a core tenet of each pillar.
We know we will succeed if we consider these pillars with DEI:
- Purpose: Serving others, delivering unrivaled customer service to clients, helping each other as well as our clients
- People: Developing leaders at all levels of the organization, fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging, living out our core values and beliefs
- Progress: Continuously improving and innovating across the organization: people, process, technology, partnerships
Strategies for Implementing an Effective DEI Initiative
Our commitment to DEI is more than words; it's our collective call to action and an integral part of who we are as an organization. It starts with leadership. We've written about how we hold company-wide Days of Understanding workshops on topics like empathy and evolving our thinking. Additionally, we assembled an executive task force to ensure we incorporate business initiatives that reflect our commitment to DEI throughout the company.
If you're thinking about ways to strengthen your own company’s DEI initiatives, here are some focus areas we prioritized for 2023:
- Examining hiring processes and adding a culture fit element
- Partnering with DEI experts on training and education
- Partnering with managers to build career paths for team members within our organization
- Setting measurable goals for all initiatives
- Committing to quarterly CEO updates
At InCheck, we're not just changing how things work internally; we're shaking up the background check industry and redefining what it means to be a service-focused company.
When we wholeheartedly embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, we create an environment that benefits our employees, clients, and the larger community. Our dedication to cultivating a workplace rich in diversity and inclusion isn't just about statistics; it's about the incredible difference we make in the lives we touch.