Today’s managers are looking to make the workplace a better place but may not fully understand, What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion? It should be a goal of all organizations to address these issues and see the benefits of proactive initiatives. Innovation, success, flexibility and creativity are just some of the attributes employees can gain from support in these areas.
Diversity refers to the wide range of differences that exist among people. If an organization consisted of 100 white males, they would still be diverse in terms of age and generational differences, educational and socioeconomic background, religious beliefs, thinking and work styles. Many organizations might not be aware of the needs of their employees. Thus, while organizations may want to increase the representation of those from different racial, ethnic and gender backgrounds, they are already diverse. And it’s important to note that there is a substantial difference between diversity and inclusion, and therefore a difference between representation and inclusion. Remember, “diversity” is the noun, and “inclusion” is the verb.
Inclusion refers to proactive behaviors that make each person feel welcome and a part of the organization. Organizations can be diverse in many ways, but that doesn’t automatically mean that they have created an inclusive work environment. Inclusive environments accept differences and work to create a culture of unique talents and outcomes. It’s amazing, really, to see a company that works to achieve true inclusion.
In the workplace, organizations are shifting their views on diversity and inclusion. Whereas 30 years ago, promoting women and minorities was the focus, today’s message is positive and reflective. Many corporations ask internally, does every employee in our organization feel valued? … If the answer is “no” or even “I don’t know”, then we must ask how we expect people who don’t feel valued, to contribute “value”. The answer to this question often brings honesty, respect and a clear vision of the work to do regarding accomplishing this goal. Patricia Pope, CEO of Pope & Associates and co-owner of online diversity training portal DiversityUniversity.com says, “Diversity won’t be truly valued until it is experienced as adding value. Yet, it’s very difficult to add value when one doesn’t “feel” valued. Herein lies the paradox of diversity.”
How has your company defined diversity and inclusion? Do you have an issue and are not sure which definition it falls under? Share your thoughts.