Many people do not have a clear definition of Diversity which is actually about our similarities and our differences combined and includes not only race, religion and ethnicity but also gender, age, abilities and disabilities, veteran or military status, parental status, sexual orientation, education, socio-economic status, geographical locations, jobs, titles and even the diversity of thoughts. It is the unique characters that make each individual.
That is why I am amazed at how some still see Diversity as meaning affirmative action, quota, checking a box on a form or just a difference of color, race and ethnicity.
Without Inclusion diversity divides and does not unites, without inclusion diversity excludes and does not include; so when thinking about diversity and its advantages in our lives either in the workplace or personal lives it is always important to remember that the most important letter in Diversity is the “I” or Inclusion.
Inclusion helps promoting cooperation, fairness and equity; showing respect for people and their differences; maximizing working with people’s similarities while working to understand perspectives of others; demonstrating empathy; thus bringing out the best in others
An inclusive culture without prejudice or discrimination allows employees to maximize their personal potential and the potential of the organization as it welcomes and support diverse employees that bring fresh ideas, approaches, and innovative collaborative solutions to the table.
Organizations are starting to realize that Diversity and inclusion management is tied to their bottom line revenues and increased customer satisfaction as it not only attracts the best talents but retain them as well.
The sole focus on the need of attracting employees from different backgrounds in recent years by organizations has expanded to include creating a workplace culture of inclusion in which ALL employees male or female, old or young, able or disable, in any position can contribute fully to advancing the organization’s goals.
Diversity and inclusion should not be presented as a program or an initiative, but as a core philosophy embedded in the organizational culture. Otherwise, employees may see it as the “flavor of the month.”
An inclusive culture will make the employees feel appreciated and valued and when you value people they give you value back; an inclusive culture will create a positive work environment that will increase employee engagement levels where they will feel more comfortable expressing themselves, and willing to take risks to attain better results, as they feel part of the overall plan of the organization.
When all employees feel respected and their voices heard, organizations will reap the maximum benefit from their investment in talent. That can only give these organizations the competitive edge to succeed in today’s global and diverse world we live in
In closing; in order for the diversity and inclusion efforts to make a difference:
– It has to be supported by the executive leadership
– If it has to be tied to performance management and promotions
– If it has to be aligned with the organization’s key business objectives and articulated in its mission, vision and core values
Let your differences make a difference in the world!