Diversity and Inclusion is a trending topic amongst businesses - and for good reason.
Now more than ever, companies are scrambling to find the latest talent, which we believe, is best achieved when we can actively expand our definition of talent within organisations.
While D&I is widespread and continuously gaining traction (just take a look at the number of reports out there by Deloitte, LinkedIn and Hubspot to name a few), the terms often get confused with one another, which may impact the way in which they are executed within organisations.
We decided to explore the definition of Diversity and Inclusion respectively, to better understand what they are, how they should be approached and why they are important for the future of work.
Diversity – the what
We like to think of Diversity as the what. What differences are you introducing into your organisation and why?
These differences not only refer to personal characteristics such as gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion and education, but to varying backgrounds, experiences and opinions, too.
By intentionally integrating talent that has a varied approach to the world and its challenges, you actively increase the chance of organisational success. This is because diversity helps employees and teams find solutions that take into account more than one angle to a problem, which make the solution well-rounded and optimised. This is why diversity is highly beneficial for an organisation’s bottom line.
Introducing diversity into your organisation is all good and well, but the true effectiveness of these initiatives is contingent on proactive planning for a diverse workforce. Proactive planning ensures you optimise the benefits of diversity while lessening the impact of future challenges.
Some examples of managing diversity include sensitivity training and cultural awareness.
Inclusion - the how
If diversity is what we add, then inclusion is the how.
Inclusion refers to the methods an organisation implement to ensure diversity can flourish. In other words, inclusion is how employees’ differences can best coexist in a mutually beneficial way. The goal of inclusion is to make everyone feel accepted, ready to share their opinions and thoughts without hesitation or fear of being rejected.
Deloitte explains inclusion as a 4-factor process:
1) When people are treated equitably and with respect
2) When people feel valued and a sense of belonging
3) When people feel safe to speak up without fear of embarrassment or retaliation
4) When people feel “empowered” to grow and do one’s best work
This sense of belonging is the product of a shared commitment by all employees and leaders to create a space that promotes authenticity and variance. This inclusive process needs to be backed by processes and structures in order to be sustained effectively and reap the best rewards organisation-wide.
In fact, there is research backing the idea that inclusion is a necessary precondition for optimising the benefits of diversity. The reason for this is because inclusion comments on the lived experience of all employees. In other words, inclusion takes into account the employee’s experience of diversity, rather than tick-the-box, best-practice checklists or predefined diversity.
Hiring thoughtfully is important, but recruiting “diverse” people isn’t enough if they are not treated like integral members of their teams and of the entire organisation. For leaders who genuinely value diversity (and equity!) and who want to work towards true integration, here are 3 tips to keep in mind:
- Be intentional about who you are inviting into your workspace. This is important not just for the integrity of the work but about the organisational culture as a whole.
- Do the collective work of working alongside one another to mitigate bias, stereotypes, and assumptions. Work to increase empathy, share the heavy lifting around important conversations, and of course, co-create.
- Work to create an environment conducive to integration in partnership with all leaders. All team members must work to cultivate trust and reliability, not on the basis of past strong relationships or performance, but current relationships.
For more information on Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, contact us today.