In recent years, there have been many changes in the ways that businesses, organizations, governments, and societies as a whole have conducted themselves. Part of these changes has been an increased focus on something known as DEI. But what is DEI and why has it received greater attention recently? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about DEI.
An Introduction to DEI
DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The term DEI has grown out of increased efforts to improve these three areas in schools, businesses, organizations, governments, and societies all around the world. These efforts stem from the realization that equality cannot be easily or simply obtained for all people because there have been individuals and groups who have been marginalized throughout history.
DEI efforts aim to change the way these individuals and groups are treated and provide them with the tools, resources, and assistance they need in order to have the same opportunities as others. Let’s look more specifically at the three different areas involved in DEI.
The Definitions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Now that we know DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion, let’s explore each of those areas in greater detail:
- Diversity – Diversity is defined as “the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, abilities, etc. in a group or organization.” Throughout history, many different individuals and groups have been excluded and looked down upon because of their differences. However, diversity is now celebrated, as our differences are what make us unique and stronger.
Diversity involves the inclusion of many different types of identities, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender and gender identity, language, culture, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, national origin, political perspective, and (dis)ability status.
- Equity – Equity is defined as “justice according to natural law or right” and “freedom from bias or favoritism.” Equity is similar to equality—and equality is ultimately the end goal—but equity is focused on providing resources, opportunities, and access to everyone in order for them to achieve success and growth. This is especially important for individuals and groups who have been historically underrepresented, marginalized, and disadvantaged, which was often a result of their differences.
- Inclusion – Inclusion is defined as “the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability).” Inclusion is focused on not only increasing diversity and being equitable, but ensuring that those individuals who have been historically underrepresented and disadvantaged are included and accommodated so they feel comfortable and respected.
It’s also important for these individuals to not only be included, but also to be involved in decision-making and other important processes. After often not having a voice or say in matters in the past, it’s critical to give them a space where their opinions and views can be heard and seriously considered because they deserve to direct what happens as much as anyone else.
You can see why these three things work hand in hand to create more opportunities for those who have been overlooked, excluded, and have needed assistance in their lives. Everyone deserves to be on an equal playing field and have the same opportunities, but not everyone is starting from the same place, so equality is impossible without a focus on DEI efforts.
Why Is DEI Important?
DEI is so important because there have been imbalances, gaps, and inequalities in the way certain groups and individuals have been treated historically. The recent efforts by individuals, businesses and other organizations, and governments to celebrate diversity, be more inclusive, and be more equitable are helping to take the next step toward a world where everyone is treated with respect, has the support they need to live a fulfilling life, and feels comfortable and welcome to take part in the things they are interested in.
DEI efforts are important on their own as we work toward a world of equality, respect, and opportunity for everyone, but they are also beneficial to schools, businesses, and other organizations because they have been proven to yield better outcomes.
In fact, a research study conducted by McKinsey & Company reveals that the greater the representation in a company, the more greatly they outperform other companies in their same industry. This is just one of the examples of how an increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion not only helps those who have been disadvantaged and underrepresented, but actually works to make us all better as we strive for a truly equal world.
At New Concepts for Living (NCFL), our mission is to serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and it is the fundamental force that makes us the premier community for adults with IDD in New Jersey. We are committed to caring for and nurturing adults challenged with special needs so they can attain their highest level of wellness, independence, and achievement. Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a central part of our mission, and our primary focus is on Community Inclusion, ensuring that our family of extraordinary individuals have access to the same activities, events, and sense of community that we all do.
Our meticulously maintained homes and caring staff enable us to provide the highest level of service for the individuals we care for. We also work to continuously improve our services and homes in order to provide the best care for our residents now and in the future.
NCFL also has an Adult Achievement Center Day Program that offers the most robust and diverse calendar of activities for those we serve. We understand that a busy and productive life can help to minimize the likelihood of developing anxiety and/or depression.
We also recognize the need for quality services for every extraordinary individual in northern New Jersey and are committed to expanding. NCFL is currently building new community residences (group homes) in Old Tappan, Mahwah, Hillsdale, and Upper Saddle River—as well as planning to open a larger Day Program Facility in 2023—and is dedicated to finding ways to further expand and grow to better serve our community! You can learn more about the work we do, make a donation to support our mission, contact us for more information, or request placement for a loved one today!