The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion

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Why Hiring and Retaining Diverse Talent isn’t Enough

Organizations that are intentional in hiring, retaining and developing diverse talent are 19% more innovative, earn 140% more revenue, have more than twice as much cash per employee, and are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. Why? Simple: Diversity in race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age and geography increases diversity in perspective, tactics and expertise. This is why seven out of 10 executives are now prioritizing diversity

However, diversity isn’t enough. 

No matter how diverse your workplace, if the people you hire don’t feel respected, appreciated and part of the group, they’ll quickly become disengaged, damaging morale, accelerating turnover, and weakening recruitment. 

BCG’s 2019 “Fixing the Flawed Approach to Diversity” report demonstrates the diversity dilemma: while 97% of 16,500 people polled across eight countries acknowledged that their employer deployed a diversity policy, only 25% said it benefited them personally.

This is because, “despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s — which often make things worse, not better” (Harvard Business Review).

As Deloitte concludes in Diversity and inclusion: The reality gap, “The era of diversity as a ‘check the box’ initiative owned by HR is over. CEOs must take ownership and drive accountability among leaders at all levels to close the gap between what is said and actual impact.”

This is the difference between diversity and inclusion.

The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion | art: crowd of diverse people

Facilitating Radical Inclusion in Your Workplace

Firms have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias on the job, hiring tests and performance ratings to limit it in recruitment and promotions, and grievance systems to give employees a way to challenge managers. Those tools are designed to preempt lawsuits by policing managers’ thoughts and actions. Yet laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out. As social scientists have found, people often rebel against rules to assert their autonomy.

Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, Harvard Business Review

Dr. David Rock, a thought leader in the human-performance coaching field, cites multiple studies in Psychology Today, concluding that “you can’t eliminate bias simply by outlawing it. Most people don’t like being told what to believe, and anything that feels like pressure to think a certain way makes people want to do the opposite.” 

Instead, it is far more effective to “engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability,” as evidenced by analysis of three decades’ of data from more than 800 US firms.

art of diverse workplace, with a man and woman about to slap five, demonstrating inclusion

In 2015, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research created a diversity training program called UNEION: a four-part course that includes a three-hour, volunteer-only bystander intervention training for managers, administrators and staff on how to build inclusive teams, facilitate diversity-related conversations and identify practices that can promote a positive workplace culture. In three years of evaluating, iterating and improving UNEION, the program leaders identified the following five practices for fostering inclusivity in the workplace:

  1. Focus on intervention, not just bias reduction
  2. Invite non-managers to foster communication across the organization
  3. Keep the focus on workplace issues, not personal ones
  4. Keep the conversation going to stay accountable
  5. Be flexible, in both content and delivery

Deloitte, meanwhile, surveyed 245 global organizations and conducted more than 70 client interviews in 2017 to determine what companies should do to transition from simply complying with diversity mandates to leveraging diversity strategically to create a truly inclusive — and innovative — culture. The study revealed the following five ways to foster inclusivity:

  1. Treat the evolution of diversity and inclusion as business-critical, not compliance-necessary
  2. Prioritize inclusive leadership
  3. Reinforce an inclusive culture by integrating both demographic diversity and diversity of thought into all talent management practices
  4. Provide diversity and inclusion resources that empower individuals to take action
  5. Drive accountability, not metrics tracking

In our ebook, Beyond Diversity: Facilitating Radical Inclusion in Your Workplace, we take a more in-depth look at these studies, and much more. 

We share advice from BIPOC and other historically disenfranchised groups, offer insights from companies doing diversity and inclusion right, and provide the top tips and tricks for ensuring your business and your employees thrive in a diverse and inclusive work environment. We even include a list of resources for further research, as well as a tear-out Diversity & Inclusion Survey you can use in your workplace to learn more about your employees, demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion, and start the conversation.

Go Beyond Diversity: Download My eBook | art: holding hands, demonstrating diversity and inclusion

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