How does equity and inclusion improve well-being?

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  • DEIJ, Talent Development

How people leaders can promote DEI in the workplace


Teresa Sanchez

If asked, most forward-thinking managers today would say equity and inclusion are important to their leadership styles. But valuing something and promoting it are two different things. To usher the conversion of DEI commitments into actions, managers need to adopt strategies that go beyond mere sentiment, such as mentorship and psychological safety practices. These methods can help promote DEI in the workplace and drive better business outcomes: companies that prioritized these approaches saw saw a 17% increase in perceived team productivity, a 20% increase in positive decision-making, and a 29% growth in collaboration rates in 2022.

We recommend centering your manager training programs around these four strategies:

1. Developing and mentoring talent with humility

The best managers approach mentorship as a collaborative learning effort. Conscious that employees with marginalized identities face unique challenges in the workplace, they make themselves available to listen and accept feedback in equal proportion to giving it. The underlying principle here is humility. To ensure managers exercise humility daily, we recommend furthering their training in empathetic communication. Leveraging the perspective-taking power of immersive technologies is one proven way to show managers how to thoughtfully steer conversations and create a culture that encourages employees to share. Most importantly, it shows them how to admit when they are wrong or out of their depth.

2. Thoughtful advocacy

Being a good advocate means knowing how to bring employees’ DEI concerns to leadership. Asking questions like “What do you feel is holding you back?” and “What do you need to succeed?.” This practice empowers employees, ensuring they feel heard and valued, thereby boosting engagement. The importance of this can’t be overemphasized: Sixty percent of employees who left their companies in the last year did so because of a lack of inclusion and belonging. 

3. Promoting safe learning environments

Effective managers focus on creating an environment that encourages open dialogue, diverse perspectives, and continuous growth. One way of doing this is encouraging junior team members to speak up in meetings without fear of judgment and in a way they feel comfortable. This can include actively asking if they have feedback during the meeting, using chat features, or notes passing. It’s also important to recognize how unconscious biases may be causing an employee to disengage. By embracing these practices, managers pave the way for team members to engage more authentically and drive the organization’s success.

4. Inclusive teaching for improved retention

Equity-minded managers should invest in enhancing their teaching abilities, recognizing that learning levels the professional playing field. For instance, ensure learning opportunities are inclusive to neurodivergent employees and employees with learning disabilities. Instruct managers to use a blend of visual and auditory presentation mediums, make materials available for on-demand review, and provide opportunities for practice. This has been proven to increase retention for employees of all abilities.

As the connective tissue between an organization and its workers, middle managers decide whether DEI is something that’s nominally accepted or actively practiced. Putting inclusivity at the center of their mentorship, advocacy, and education techniques supports diverse talent to succeed. What’s more, it acknowledges that every employee, no matter how senior, still has room to grow.


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