Diversity and Inclusion is often grouped together like mac ‘n’ cheese or Netflix and chill. But what do the words actually mean and why are they important?
Simply put. diversity in the workplace is employing people from different, religious & political backgrounds, gender, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and geographic location.
Inclusion, on the other hand, is about creating that sense of belonging and making sure there are a set of behaviours that exhibit this. A sense of belonging is more than a symbolised participation. It’s about actually participating.
For example, hiring more people of colour to hit “quotas” but having no people of colour in senior positions in the business is more of a symbolised participation than an actual one. This is because the individuals are in the organisation but their footing is not equal to their white counterparts.
So, why does Diversity and Inclusion matter? According to McKinsey & Co “a business is likely to perform better financially if its workforce is more diverse” and a report by Deloitte found that when employees “‘think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included, their ability to innovate increases by 83%.”
Other benefits include reducing prejudices and a greater awareness of issues faced by underrepresented communities, alongside a wider range of skills brought by individuals from diverse backgrounds. All of this results in an increase in creativity, innovation and productivity.
So, what can be done to ensure D&I isn’t an ad-hoc activity with a huge launch but little substance afterwards. How can D&I become an established area within an organisation? Here are a few ways I believe it can be embedded into the workplace:
Understand as a workplace why D&I is important
Communicate the importance of D&I. This will help people understand why it is important and a priority for the business.
Don’t be a “cookie cutter”
All organisations are different, with their own culture and unique quirks. Understand the need for your workplace and create a D&I programme that suits your culture and employees.
Plan & Dedicate. Plan your initiatives and create a long-term vision for D&I. Where do you, as an organisation, want D&I to be in the next 2,3,5 years? Dedicate an individual or team to execute them. At Clarasys, we have a growing D&I function and have created a Pride campaign, D&I podcast and held panel discussions on what it means to be a woman in consulting.
Ask and listen
Create an environment where the underrepresented feel comfortable to speak about their experiences and listen to their perspective of belonging in the workplace.
You’ll never stop learning
It’s okay if you don’t know everything or if your D&I team is small; wanting to learn and change is all it takes.
It’s not easy to create a workplace where D&I is a priority and embedded into the organisation. But as a black woman, D&I has always resonated strongly with me and I am passionate about creating a workplace for the under-represented where “we feel at home, because we are at home”.