When we think about inclusion, diversity tends to be used interchangeably. And while the concepts are related they are different in important ways. Workplace diversity is solidly entrenched as business best practice and is understood to enhance a wide range of business metrics. From innovation to customer service, having a workforce that represents a wide range of ethnicities, ages, genders, and worldviews improves competitiveness, spurs growth and contributes to long-term stability.
But diversity is not enough - inclusion is what organizations use to leverage the power of their diverse workforce and ensure that their diverse voices and perspectives are heard – meaningfully, purposefully and consistently.
The Diversity - Inclusion Relationship
Where diversity provides the building blocks for inclusion, inclusion is the systems within the organization that allow individual differences to shine and flourish. Much like an artist can go to a beach, collect a bunch of random objects and create a piece of art, inclusive organizations see the differences in their people and put them together in ways that elevate everyone and create something vibrant and cohesive.
That vibrancy and cohesion are built when organizations take their diversity efforts to the next level and ensure that differences are respected and appreciated. When people are confident their divergent voices are valued that’s when organizations truly benefit from the differences within. Inclusion is what ensures that the differences within a workplace are leveraged and not simply noted.
Inclusion in Practice
The Best Workplaces for Inclusion provide workplaces that are safe, fair, caring and collaborative. These key conditions provide a strong foundation for people to be themselves and feel heard and valued. Employee responses from organizations on this Best Workplaces list provide further insights as follows:
Beyond physical safety, which 98% of respondents affirmed, psychological and emotional security at work is vitally important. When people feel safe they contribute more openly and honestly which allows for richer discussions and more robust solutions. Safe work cultures encourage a healthier relationship with mistakes and failure, where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and taking risks. People also feel safe to express their uniqueness while remaining connected to the organization’s purpose.
When employees believe they will be treated fairly they bring their best selves to work every day. They are confident that they have equal opportunity and they know their unique contributions will be evaluated honestly. They also know that they can bring their questions and concerns to management and be treated with respect and honesty. Transparent communication, conflict resolution and talent management practices are key ways to establish fairness.
Showing employees care and concern is paramount to inclusion. It’s no surprise that the Best WorkplacesTM for Inclusion score extremely high on caring practices. Caring creates a sense of belonging, it enhances engagement and encourages people to celebrate and appreciate people for their individuality. Personalized onboarding and regular appreciation are fundamental practices to promote caring in the workplace.
Collaboration is the wheelhouse of inclusion and diversity – it’s what drives differences to spur innovation and improvement. Unique perspectives and experiences create robust ideas and solutions and it’s important that employees have a voice and feel empowered at all levels. Inclusive workplaces promote clear goals and responsibilities, cross-functional opportunities, and team decision-making.
The Bottom Line
Diversity and inclusion have unique roles within organizations. Inclusion transforms strong diversity practices and ensures diverse ideas and perspectives are woven seamlessly throughout the organization. The Best WorkplacesTM for Inclusion are the beach artists who see potential everywhere, creating masterpieces within the organization’s walls.
Does your company create an inclusive employee experience? Join the thousands of companies that have committed to building high-trust company cultures that help them attract, retain and take care of their people, contact us about getting Certified today.
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