Early in my career, I was part of a team where diversity was celebrated on paper, but the inclusion aspect was lacking. Individuals with different backgrounds and talents felt their voices drowned out in the cacophony of conformity. This lack of inclusion hindered collaboration and stifled innovation. It became evident that a diverse workforce without an inclusive culture was like having the pieces of a puzzle without connecting them.
I remembered Ellen Pompeo, the Grey’s Anatomy star talk about diversity in the sets and lamenting, “Sadly, I think the legacy might simply just be that we made it possible for more people of color to have jobs on camera on television, which makes me embarrassed for television”.
And I realized that we had to do more than just recruiting diverse people on the team. Diversity cannot be something that simply gets “ticked off.”
Defining Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity, at its core, is the mix of individuals with distinct backgrounds, encompassing factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and more. When brought together into the professional sphere, has the potential to enhance creativity, decision-making, and overall organizational performance.
Jacob Morgan from the Great Leadership Youtube Channel rightly points out that bringing people together is not the hard part; the inclusion is the hard part. This is where the crux of the matter lies. Diversity alone doesn’t guarantee a harmonious and productive work environment. For that, we need inclusion.
Inclusion is the active, intentional effort to make every member of the diverse workforce feel a sense of belonging. It goes beyond mere representation, and going deeper into creating an atmosphere where individuals are heard, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives without fear of judgment or exclusion.
A McKinsey report, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 35% more likely to experience above-average profitability than their counterparts. This highlights the financial impact that a diverse leadership can have on an organization.
However, without inclusion, these statistics lose their luster. In another study it was found that organizations with an inclusive culture are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times more likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.
An Inclusive Culture For A Thriving Workplace
Laura Jordan Bambach, Chief Creative Officer at Mr. President, succinctly captures the essence of the relationship between diversity and inclusion with her powerful statement, “Diversity without inclusion doesn’t work.”
This sentiment is echoed in my own experiences within the industry.
In my role as a diversity and inclusion strategist, I’ve navigated through the challenges of fostering an inclusive workplace. The pivotal shift occurred when we embraced the eight truths:
#1 was realising that Diversity of thinking is the first step. We realized that diversity isn’t just about visible differences; it’s about welcoming diverse perspectives and ideas. This realization paved the way for an inclusive culture.
Truth #2 was to Recognize the importance of inclusive leadership
We empowered leaders to cast a long shadow of inclusivity. Middle managers became catalysts for this change (Truth #4), influencing daily interactions and ensuring everyone’s voice was heard.
To rewire behaviors (Truth #5), we embarked on a journey to transform systemic processes. Tangible or realistic goals (Truth #6) kept our ambitions grounded, translating aspirations into measurable actions. Aligning internal values with external actions (Truth #7) ensured authenticity.
Finally, we undertook a culture reset (Truth #8), shifting from a tick-the-box mentality to an immersive, intent and conscious experience. Through this transformative journey, we not only embraced diversity but created an inclusive ecosystem where every perspective thrives.
IBM’s Commitment to Inclusion
One of the exemplary instances of an organization championing both diversity and inclusion is IBM. The tech giant has been a trailblazer in creating a workplace that thrives on diversity and actively promotes inclusion. IBM’s Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Carla Grant Pickens, emphasizes the importance of not just celebrating differences but integrating them into the fabric of the company culture.
IBM’s commitment to inclusion is evident in initiatives like their Neurodiversity Program, which focuses on hiring individuals with autism. By providing a supportive environment and tailored accommodations, IBM has not only enriched its workforce but also demonstrated how inclusion contributes to innovation and business success.
Creating Genuine Diversity Through Inclusion
As an industry expert who has seen the transformative power of fostering both diversity and inclusion, I advocate for a holistic approach. Organizations must move beyond superficial diversity metrics and embrace a genuine commitment to inclusion. It’s about creating a culture where every individual, regardless of their background, feels empowered to contribute meaningfully.
I agree, the journey towards an inclusive workplace is not without challenges, but the rewards are immeasurable. It’s about building bridges that connect diverse perspectives, fostering an environment where each employee is not just present but thriving. As Laura Jordan Bambach notes, “You need to build a culture that allows your people to thrive and to have an opinion that isn’t based on your opinion.” In this era of dynamic workplaces, let’s not just aim for diversity but strive for inclusion, ensuring that every voice is not just heard but valued.
If you are starting out on your journey to implementing Diversity and Inclusion in your organization, these comprehensive guidelines from CecureUs can be helpful.
Please reach out to us for any queries on Difference Between Diversity & Inclusion.