Diversity and Inclusion are lumped together (we even shorten it to D&I) but the reality I see as a consultant is that they aren’t often practised together.
As our populations continue to diversify, and as organizations come under the spotlight for their commitment (or lack thereof) to diversity and inclusion, they often focus on diversity – recruiting, attracting and retaining talent that reflects diversity. What they don’t do as much of, with often devastating impacts, is work at inclusion.
Don’t get me wrong; increasing diversity and representation in organizations is critical. We want and need to see organizations that are reflective of the communities they serve and the country as a whole. But if we stop there, we are not only missing the point of diversity, we are also missing the richness and the value-add that diversity can bring. We get that richness and value-add when we add inclusion to the mix; when we create environments where people feel seen, heard and valued, and that they belong.
So targeted recruitment and programs are great, if they are a component of a bigger picture. And that bigger picture considers the environment those new hires will land in.
What we want to create is an environment where people are seen, heard and valued for who they are and what they have to offer, where everyone feels safe, is able to speak up and share their ideas, and have opportunities to advance. And where people can learn together. In this environment, not only are people supported (the new and the existing) but the organization can grow and become more responsive to markets and clients.
As populations become more diverse, as people become more selective about where they work, and as client and customer bases become more diverse, companies need to look seriously at D&I to remain competitive, to be able to grow, and to be innovative.
Diversity and Inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
But you have to do them both.