A Conversation on Diversity and Inclusion...

February 26, 2020

...with myself. Alternatively titled: What is the difference between Diversity and Inclusion, and why does it matter so much?

Diversity and Inclusion. Neither of these concepts are particularly new, so why does it seem like this topic a Really Big Deal in the current culture?

The thing is...

…diversity and inclusion are incredibly important to creating productive and positive workplace environments. Studies have shown that diverse companies produce 19% more revenue than their homogeneous counterparts. Additionally, diverse work forces boost morale and increases a company’s access to talent, which promotes employee efficacy and retention.

Simply speaking, diversity is good for business.

So it sounds like diversity in the workplace is settled?

Unfortunately, no.

While we’ve absolutely come a long way when it comes to diversity in the workplace, but there is so much more to do. And that’s where inclusion comes in.

I am now confused. I thought diversity and inclusion were the same?

No, not really. More and more folks are coming to the conclusion that diversity and inclusion are different stages on the same spectrum. Let me explain:

  • Diversity is a surface level effort to increase representation with little to no substantial support.
  • Equity is a commitment to not only increase representation, but also to begin implementing policies and practices that will allow diverse people to flourish and succeed within the organization.
  • Inclusion is a point at which an organization values and reflects the voice, contributions, and interests of a multifaceted workforce. In addition, the organization has created systems, policies, and practices to build a critical mass of diversity that creates a culture of belonging.

To put it simply:

Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party
Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist
Inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance.

Dr. Robert Sellers, Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan

Ok. I think I've got it now. So why is this so important again?

As I said before, it's good for business. If you own a business or are an executive at a company you might want to keep that in mind.

But for us regular folk, why does it matter?

Change happens because we as a community make it happen. Just as you have diverse people in your personal life who help you shape and grow your mind, you should also want to have diversity around you in your workplace that will help you shape and grow your workplace identity and ethics.

Even as a person who has no minority identifiers (ie: heterosexual, male, white, middle or upper class, etc) you can have extraordinary impact on pushing for an inclusive workplace. Things like stepping back to make room for other voices, calling attention to someone who isn't being heard, or asking for employee input are such little actions, but they have huge impact.

A PowerHouse Challenge

In your next meeting, challenge yourself to take one action that will further inclusivity.

Do you notice that you're taking up a lot of time talking? Maybe take a break and let somebody else have a chance to voice their thoughts.
Does your coworker have really good ideas, but she never shares them in the meeting? Encourage her to speak up and bring her idea to the table.

There is so much that we can do to help foster a more inclusive environment in our personal and professional lives. The more that we are aware of it, the more we can do to help inch ourselves towards the goal of inclusivity.

More Resources:
Diversity and Inclusion Explained
The Truth About Diversity and Why it Matters
A Brief History of Diversity in the Workplace