Hannah Meads explains what the terms 'diversity' and 'inclusion' really mean and reveals the huge benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce
Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, but it is important that organisations recognise the difference.
Diversity is recognising and celebrating difference, acknowledging the benefit of having a range of perspectives in the workforce, which are representative of a company's employees and culture.
Inclusion is valuing the difference in people and enabling everyone to thrive at work. It creates an environment where everyone belongs without feeling the need to conform, where contributions matter and individuals are able to perform to their full potential, no matter their background, identity or circumstances.
It is important to recognise that diversity and inclusion are not just about allowing 'different' people to 'fit in', but require sensitivity about creating an environment where everyone is appreciated for being individual. From the surface, the concept may seem easy; however, the complications correlate with equality -- which extends way beyond the workplace.
Although there is a clear emphasis on organisations to help drive cultural change, we can certainly help as individuals too. Here are some suggestions:
- Educate yourself and keep the conversation going -- Being more informed or questioning why things are a certain way will not only help you, but others. The continued education and discussion of sensitive inclusion issues is necessary, as change will likely not emerge from workplace initiatives alone.
- Role-model inclusive behaviours at work and at home -- Challenging exclusionary practices and behaviours can be difficult and sometimes daunting. However, by not speaking up, it can be difficult for people to understand how their actions or viewpoints may not be inclusive.
- Encourage business leaders to understand the value of diversity and inclusion -- Perhaps you can join your company's diversity and inclusion committee (or propose setting one up) to actively discuss and promote the benefits to the wider business. Alternatively, ask to discuss the matter more regularly in your team meetings or one-to-ones. This may help senior leaders approach the situation with a new perspective and may help promote new talent, market competitiveness or ways of working.
Not only do organisations and individuals have a social responsibility to help drive change, they have so much to gain by creating a diverse and inclusive culture. What is unattractive about creating a positive environment where everyone can influence, share knowledge and have a valued perspective -- with the bonus of employee satisfaction, retention and wellbeing?
Hannah Meads is broker at Miller Insurance