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From D&I to DEIB: Why a sense of belonging can make all the difference

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is one of the most rapidly evolving social and business developments of our time – so fast that many missed the recent addition of Equity to the conversation. Now the discussion is expanding again, and it’s driving us to strengthen our workplaces so that everyone is included, valued, and has a chance to thrive.

“Longing to be” and “being for long”

At DHL, we believe the “B” … well … truly belongs.

Empty offices, empty streets, empty urban centers. We all remember the images from the early days of the pandemic. Across the globe, lockdowns provided a stark visual of what the world looks like without people: empty.

In the United States, two-thirds of employees said that the COVID-19 pandemic caused them to seriously reflect on their life’s purpose. They thought about what was most important and where they belonged.

Even though people work remotely now more than ever, employees expect their jobs to bring a meaningful sense of purpose to their lives. Individuals who feel a sense of belonging at work are reportedly 39% more productive and 35% less likely to look for another job. It’s described, on the one hand, as “longing to be” and, on the other, as “being for long.”

The shift from Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) couldn’t be timelier. Progressive companies have recognized its importance for sustainable business, not least because today’s narrow talent pool increasingly views potential employers through a DEIB lens. It’s just the right thing to do. A place where everyone belongs is also a place where everyone can be their authentic self.

At DHL, we believe the “B” … well … truly belongs. Belonging along with equity take us beyond diversity and inclusion to a place where everyone can feel connected and comfortable at work, while contributing to a bigger purpose. This culture can unlock untold potential, help us pursue our company purpose – Connecting People, Improving Lives – and ensure we stay fit for the future of work in logistics.

Below we share what DEIB means to us and the logistics industry.

What is DEIB?

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging are four interconnected concepts that have emerged as pillars of best business practices – essential elements that can foster employee engagement well-being and fuel sustainable growth and innovation. They are at the heart of everything we do at Deutsche Post DHL Group.

    Diversity embodies all the differences and similarities such as gender, ethnic and national origin, race, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation that make us unique individuals. This includes bringing together people with diverse backgrounds, skills, experiences and perspectives across all levels of an organization.
    Equity is about providing individual levels of support and opportunities to meet the different needs of each and every employee. It also means the fair treatment for all by identifying and eliminating inequities and barriers.
    Inclusion is about creating and maintaining a work environment in which all individuals feel welcomed, respected, and valued, regardless of who they are.
    Belonging is about feeling comfortable and connected at work and enabling people to contribute to shared and meaningful purposes. This creates safe environments where everyone can bring their authentic self to work.

The importance of DEIB in the workplace


76% of employees and job seekers report a diverse workforce is an essential factor when evaluating companies and job offers


Companies are 25% more likely to be more successful than the average if women are also represented in their top management


Organizations with an inclusive culture are 6 times more likely to be innovative and agile


40% of employees who feel a strong sense of belonging rarely think about looking for a job elsewhere

Belonging builds community

We create opportunities to connect and contribute.

Although many organizations recognize the growing importance of DEIB – and just how essential the belonging piece is to the puzzle – most are still learning how to make sure everyone feels like they belong, regardless of their individuality. They want to create a close-knit community with a common purpose, but how?

A 2020 Deloitte study found that people feel a sense of belonging at work when three mutually reinforcing factors are in place: comfort, connection, and contribution. We need to feel comfortable at work, including feeling physically and psychologically safe, being treated fairly, and being respected by others. We need to feel connected to our peers and teams. And we need to feel like we contribute to a meaningful purpose, with our unique strengths helping achieve common goals.

The three factors are viewed as a progression from comfort to connection to contribution. An inclusive environment is the first step. People feel comfortable when they feel safe, respected, and treated fairly. Next, workers feel connected when they share the organization’s purpose and values and sense that those around them do as well. Finally, the feeling of contribution comes when they see how their unique talents and efforts make a difference.

At DHL, we’re doing our best to create an environment where all three can thrive. For example, we understand that our purpose as a logistics company is to connect people and improve lives, not simply to transport things from A to B. We value Respect & Results, and our vision is to be THE logistics company for the world. This trifecta forms the core of our shared DNA and the foundation for a comfortable and inclusive environment. Building on that, we create opportunities to connect and contribute, such as our First Choice approach and Certified program, which bring us together to improve and excel continuously. Our social impact and volunteering programs are examples of global initiatives that provide highly effective and gratifying ways to contribute our time and expertise to people in need.

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Case study: Global Volunteer Day

By helping solve problems in their local communities, our eployees create a sense of community and teamwork that carries over into the workplace.

Our Global Volunteer Day (GVD) program provides the framework to facilitate employee volunteering at the local level in close collaboration with independent local organizations and charities. GVD is not limited to a single day or project but is designed to promote lasting ties between our people and the many local non-profits and charities they support with their time and skills throughout the year.

DEIB and the future of logistics

While DEIB is a fundamental social trend that businesses across all industries must actively monitor, we believe it will impact the logistics industry in three ways in the next five years.

  • Diversity in leadership
    There is real value in drawing on a range of experiences and perspectives. In logistics and other traditionally male-dominated industries, diversity in leadership will mean encouraging women and other underrepresented groups to put themselves forward. More companies are creating equal opportunities for people from all backgrounds to take on leadership roles, which will equip management teams to relate better to employees and (potential) customers. This means diversity will play a role in competition and business growth. Moreover, a diverse leadership team will positively impact employees who will feel empowered and see new perspectives. When companies leverage diversity in leadership, they’ll facilitate change, drive innovation, and be tomorrow’s leaders.
  • Diversity in vendor selection
    We’re seeing a significant rise in diversity as a factor that affects vendor selection. It’s driving competition, encouraging innovation, benefiting local economies, and boosting global trade – all of which will have ripple effects throughout our industry. For example, industry leaders have already committed $50 billion to partner with minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) in the next decade. And the best part is everyone wins. Companies (and the broader economy) benefit from more competition and variety from suppliers, and minority-run businesses gain new opportunities, especially in international markets.
  • Inclusion through technology
    Technology is playing an essential role in breaking down barriers at work, especially for jobs that are physically demanding. In logistics, such jobs have traditionally required physical strength and mobility. Tech is changing that. For example, one worker with a tablet can operate a fleet of AI-enhanced indoor mobile robots shuttling picking carts through warehouse aisles faster than a human picker.

What are the key challenges facing DEIB?

  1. Overcoming discomfort and prioritizing change
  2. Communicating values and attracting diverse talent
  3. Addressing underlying bias and enabling open dialogue
  4. Understanding that change takes time

Bringing different people together

A great place to work must be a great place to work for all. Bringing a diverse team together in a way that brings out their best takes much more than adding D&I to HR strategies. Building a community of comfort, connection, and contribution in today’s post-pandemic world means actively encoding DEIB into the company’s DNA. The sense of belonging that results has potential to make all the difference.

As a company powered by people, DEIB goes to the heart of everything we do at Deutsche Post DHL Group. By actively promoting it, we engage ourworkforce, drive innovation, and enable our people so that everyone can make a difference through their contributions. We continuously strive to create an inclusive and equitable workplace in which each of us can thrive and be our authentic self every day.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

We develop the best workforce, drive innovation and enable our people so that everyone can make a difference with their contributions.

Published: February 2023

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