The world is diverse, and our workplaces should be, too. A diverse workforce can help your organization develop fresh approaches and solutions to problems, and can open up new and untapped customer bases. Achieving diversity is about making a sincere commitment to recognizing that people of different backgrounds and experiences bring value because of those differences, not in spite of them.
Many organizations recognize the value of hiring from historically marginalized groups and already have diversity programs in place to broaden their talent pipelines. Yet many of these same companies may find their diversity programs are not working out the way they had hoped. Maybe it’s because the employees don’t seem to be staying as long with the company, or don’t seem to be advancing. This may be especially frustrating for organizations that have actively tried to recruit from a diverse background. When these organizations step back, they may realize that although they have a strong diversity program, particularly when it comes to recruitment, they have missed the mark on inclusion.
Emphasizing inclusion brings to the forefront another purpose of diversity initiatives, which is to make use of untapped segments of the labour force and connect with underserved markets. This means creating a workplace where people from diverse backgrounds feel included and are provided the opportunities to contribute. Focussing on diversity alone may miss the point if it is treated as checking off a requirement or meeting a quota. Diversity by itself is not enough; there must also be inclusion.
While many people consider diversity and inclusion the same thing, they are truly separate, and both need to be present for a diversity initiative to succeed. Think of it like this: diversity is an invitation, but inclusion is participation. Unless everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, and feels like they can make genuine contributions, diversity on its own is ineffective.
Sometimes, we may think our workplace is both diverse and inclusive, but it’s important to take a step back and reflect on the environment. Our biases can occasionally get in the way of understanding what’s truly going on in our workplaces. When we take the time to assess the culture of the organization for the true experience employees are having, we can sometimes uncover key areas for improvement. Working on these improvements can make a difference in the happiness and productivity of employees.
Does your work environment support both diversity and inclusion? Download our FREE Guide to Inclusion in Diversity Programs for steps you can take to help your efforts succeed.
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