Diversity vs. Inclusion or Diversity and Inclusion?

In our previous post, we discussed the business value of diversity and inclusion. Ideas of diversity and inclusion in the workplace aren’t simply terms that are thrown around. They should be real, specific and measurable components of a business strategy.

Before you can build an effective strategy that feels relevant and modern, some distinctions should be made between diversity and inclusion. The terms are often used together, and they do intersect with one another, but they also have distinctions that are important.

Diversity and inclusion done right

In an article posted on Forbes.com featuring an interview with author and HR Consultant Jennifer Brown, she describes diversity as who’s sitting around the leadership table, the people being recruited, and the people being promoted internally.

She links diversity with looking at gender and ethnicity, as well as sexual orientation and disability. She then goes on to describe inclusion as the behaviors that show a workplace is welcoming and embraces diversity. She describes great inclusive leaders as those people who are listening and able to bring together and integrate diverse voices.

Brown goes on to point out the important link between Millennials in the workplace and diversity. She says it’s a generation that’s grown up with instant access to information, and as a result, they expect and demand transparency. They also understand the importance of celebrating uniqueness and diversity. Brown says that in order to attract and retain the top Millennial talent it’s important not just to talk about topics of diversity and inclusion, but to do so authentically.

To sum it all up, diversity in the workplace means the company employees people from different backgrounds and cultures. Diversity initiatives can focus on gender, race, age, ethnicity, education, political associations, religions, and sexual orientations.

The key strategic advantage of a diverse workforce is having different viewpoints and opinions that can be used to make the best and most innovative business decisions. An inclusive workplace is one where all employees felt like they’re respected and treated with dignity. All employees are seen as having value, and there is a focus on equality, human rights, and employee welfare.

An inclusive workplace isn’t with cliques or hierarchical groups. If there are biases, they’re addressed with transparency, and inclusive companies encourage employees to share their anxieties or sources of stress so they can be addressed openly and honestly.

A lot of corporate and thought leaders feel that inclusion is the greater of the challenges for many businesses. They may have the diversity initiatives in place when it comes to hiring, but it takes a lot more effort on the part of everyone to truly achieve a sense of inclusion at work.

Diversity and Inclusion Trends

One of the biggest trends or areas of focus right now when it comes to diversity and inclusion is trying to address unconscious bias. Most workplaces have made excellent strides when it comes to putting in place specific ways to hire with an eye toward diversity, but with the presence of unconscious and uncovered biases, it can be difficult to make the same level of progress regarding inclusion.

According to an article posted on SHRM, to really start integrating a sense of inclusion, businesses have to start with two core components—opening the conversation and education. The article goes on to say that many companies are utilizing a host of technology tools to help them achieve diversity and inclusion objectives.

At the company Johnson & Johnson, leadership says they encourage and foster diversity and inclusion every step of the way. Every aspect of the talent process including goal-setting, coaching, conversations mid-year review and training materials are embedded with elements of diversity and inclusion. The company says they want their people always to be thinking about how they can be more inclusive and eliminate unconscious or hidden biases that could be influencing how they think.

Johnson & Johnson also says that inclusion is part of their performance indicators. They focus on building leaders that can adhere to inclusion goals.

Companies Getting Diversity and Inclusion Right

At the start of the year, Forbes released its first-ever list of the best employers in America for diversity. The ranking included 250 employers from across all industries. The survey looked at information related to diversity policies and diversity in executive and board positions. 30,000 employees were surveyed, and Forbes said their hope with the list is to create a discussion about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Employees were asked questions about diversity, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, and disability. Responses from underrepresented groups received the most weight in the ranking. Some other factors considered included whether companies regularly communicated about diversity and the gaps in diversity perceptions within companies.

  • Northern Trust: Ranking at the top of the Forbes list is Northern Trust. Northern Trust defines its approach as being about fostering and supporting a diverse, inclusive workplace. Along with being recognized by Forbes, Northern Trust has been recognized by Working Mother magazine, Black Enterprise, Diversity Edge, Diversity MBA Magazine, the National Association of Female Executives and The Corporate Equality Index. They have a Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion which is a senior executive position, and they have a yearly Chairman’s Diversity Advocate Award Program to recognize employees making contributions to diversity efforts within the company.
  • The Smithsonian Institute: The Smithsonian Institute says it’s their objective to reflect the diversity of the people of America and the world. They developed and published a Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Report, and they’ve also developed internship programs with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Also notable about The Smithsonian Institute is the Supplier Diversity Program. This program focuses on providing small, minority-owned businesses with the opportunity to gain an advantage in federal contracts entered into by The Smithsonian Institute.
  • Levy: Levy is a restaurant and hospitality company. They earned the number three spot on the Forbes diversity list and highlighted was the number of female executives at the company, and the high level of ethnic diversity among management-level employees across Levy and its subsidiaries.

To learn more about following in the footsteps of these innovative companies, continue to our post on creating a diversity and inclusion policy. You can also see our Diversity & Inclusion eLearning courses and here.