Keda is CEO of True II Soul, a network focused on trauma recovery, diversity & inclusion and resiliency training.
Recently, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end racial and gender-sensitivity training for federal agencies. He later extended the ban to federal contractors, claiming that topics such as white privilege and critical race theory were “divisive, anti-American propaganda.” Additionally, a Trump administration memo directed agencies to cancel these contracts for suggesting the U.S. is “an inherently racist or evil country.”
The administration’s move contradicts the open, actionable discourse that diversity and inclusion training promotes. When world leaders denounce useful, evidence-based programs, it suggests that company leaders and organizational managers should ignore these programs, too.
However, diversity and inclusion training speaks to the very core of the issues that organizations face right now with employee engagement and well-being. People who don’t feel included in a company’s structure and mission are less likely to invest their time and energy into the future and longevity of that organization. People need to be seen, valued and invested in, whether at a government agency or private company. Alternatively, employees feel excluded, which becomes a daily conflict that impedes progress and eats away at a company’s bottom line.
As leaders, a primary part of our job is to create safe, inclusive and productive spaces. Doing so boosts the organization in multiple ways, including the financial aspects.
Consider these five major benefits of increasing diversity and inclusion in your organization:
1. Better Morale
When employees feel included in an organization, they feel invested, which significantly contributes to morale. A company’s morale speaks to the confidence, enthusiasm and loyalty that employees have in their jobs. Essentially, it reflects the mental and emotional condition of the workplace and employees’ beliefs in the organization and its goals. Without good morale, job satisfaction plummets. Employees may compensate by “misappropriating time” through tardiness, absenteeism, procrastination or excessive distractions. This apathy spreads and affects everyone.
Employees often take job dissatisfaction home with them. Low morale increases stress and affects their ability to enjoy life outside of work, further impacting their mental health. Their capacity to do the job they signed up for diminishes, and the organization loses forward momentum. Diversity and inclusion training moves beyond race relations — it involves implementation of coping mechanisms, resiliency tools and confidential policies for employees to seek support and trust their organization to maintain a safe and health work environment.
2. Increased Productivity
Better morale leads to better productivity, which is indicative of a company’s health and future. When people feel valued and included, they “buy in” to company mission and vision and gladly contribute their time and energy. Too often, we push people to meet sky-high expectations and ignore the institutional barriers that may block their success — and the company’s success. Low morale and productivity can result in a downward spiral of frustrated managers and employees, and inevitably, challenges for the company.
Diversity and inclusion advisors can act as a bridge by giving voice to employee concerns and helping managers to understand what’s wrong. When leaders choose to “see” their employees, the challenges that can hamper productivity are clarified and can be addressed much earlier. Rather than punish employees for not achieving key performance indicators, leaders can reach out and collaboratively strategize to help employees succeed.
3. Higher Social Consciousness
Underlying both morale and productivity is social consciousness, or the sense of responsibility that leaders and employees feel for each other, as well as the health of the organization and the company’s greater purpose. Everyone in an organization is connected, and each person has an integral role to play. It’s vital to value and acknowledge each employee as part of the collective and encourage a sense of belonging. Without it, people feel separated, alone and overwhelmed.
Diversity and inclusion training helps people know that they are appreciated and part of that expansive whole. It’s not divisive, as critics in the Trump administration claim. Instead, it promotes care, compassion and connectivity. Compared to financial incentives used to prod people along, this team-focused mentality fosters more enduring energy and commitment. When any of us feel included, we are motivated and have a reason to get up in the morning and contribute.
4. Positive Paradigm Shift
We’re entering a new age of conversations around race relations, diversity and inclusion. It’s blatantly obvious that what we’ve done for so long is inadequate. Our approach requires a paradigm shift that creates genuinely inclusive spaces that encourage authentic and actionable discourse. Diversity and inclusion isn’t about vilifying or attacking anyone — it’s about allowing people to heal, collaborate and move forward in safe, productive environments.
Today’s diversity and inclusion conversations open up new avenues for all stakeholders to discuss our various traumas and negative stereotypes. When we’re able to see and relate to each other, we open up to experiences other than our own and can put ourselves in others’ shoes. Relationships lead to a higher likelihood of investment in each other and our collective future — with a greater chance of viable solutions.
5. Better Bottom Line
With better morale, productivity, social consciousness and positive paradigm shifts, the financial health of a company takes care of itself. Diversity and inclusion training directly correlates and contributes to success in these areas, which in turn, affects the success of an organization.
People are more apt to dedicate a full day to productive work if they feel connected and included. Studies have shown that organizations with happy, healthy employees are more likely to see gains in revenue and profit.
At our most foundational level, we’re all human beings. Remembering this and treating each other as such is vital to successful organization and communities. That perspective alone brings significant benefits to the organizational culture. Employees take notice when there’s a frontend investment in diversity and inclusion training, which pays measurable dividends for the organization’s future. Rather than ignore this valuable resource, it’s to everyone’s benefit to embrace the opportunity to understand each other and prosper together.
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