Isn’t Diversity Enough?
I use real-life strategies and lessons to inspire others to embrace diversity, acceptance, and tolerance in all forms! I believe that no matter who you are, you deserve to be in any place and any space that any other person occupies in either the community or the workforce!
Imagine you are the only woman in the senior level position at your workplace. You are surrounded by men in meetings and other work-related groups. You work twice as hard to get your voice heard in this male-populated area, and you strive to create opportunities where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated. Are you feeling worn out—as if you are making long strides with no substantial progress and you may feel lonely at times.
Please join me today….
If you have ever felt neglected just because of your sexual orientation, race, gender or nationality, then be my audience today.
By now many organisations both in Australia and other countries have embraced the culture of diversity. From schools to business corporates and hospitals. When a teacher, a doctor or an employer encourages other concerned parties to respect each other’s differences and value those diversities, a vast change is made every day in our community.
Most of us have heard the words diversity and inclusion, but have we ever sat and tried to understand them fully? Why they’re used together? How valuable they can be for any community? Well, let’s have a little discussion here.
What’s in a name?
While the words; diversity & inclusion may be used interchangeably, they are not one and the same, and there is a massive difference between the two. Understanding the vital difference will help a company, a student or even a job seeker work on building a more liberal culture.
I recently came across a popular Forbes article on a rare topic “why diversity can be bad for business” that really caught my attention and anxiety to read as I’m always looking for different opinions and views. Okay, the surprising fact was that I actually agreed with the article. Here is why:
From all angles, mixed gender executive boards have often outperformed exclusive-males boards by over 26% in the last six years, courtesy of research by Credit Suisse. Well, that’s impressive, but the same study found that organisations with diverse and inclusive cultures were more likely to grow the market share by a whopping 45% in the last 12 months.
We need more than just diversity.
Most of these organisations have employees who are less likely to leave their jobs and often give greater desultory effort. The research also suggested that higher market growth is predominantly propelled by better quality decision-making within diverse and inclusive innovation. In other words, diversity is just a piece of the pie. Other researches have also come out to show that diversity alone is damaging to companies. Organisations applying diversity alone will experience absenteeism, increased conflict, discrimination cases, and missed opportunities. Unless it has been incorporated with inclusiveness, diversity alone is not self-sufficient. Quite simply, the only missing ingredient in our puzzle is inclusion.
Verna Meyers once quoted that; “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” That gives the true meaning of diversity and inclusion. Diversity is the mere incorporation of different voices, different beliefs, different cultures and diverse skills in an organisation, while inclusion is welcoming, supporting and respecting other people’s opinions, skills, values, and perceptions.
Employees or students in an inclusive environment will feel free to table their arguments, thoughts, opinions, merits and complains that can be useful in any organisation. Many companies have succeeded in hiring for diversity, but very few have embraced inclusion. As a leader you may be doing an excellent job hiring minorities and promoting equality but have you considered placing strategies that will help support it.? Fixing gender parity is an extraordinary step towards diversity but how will you make sure that the new women employees are not harassed by their male counterparts?
‘I’d like to change the conversation from “we need more women” to “we need a diversity of thought leaders who solve complex problems with the fit- for- purpose solutions’
Don’t we just need to recruit more women?
From my illustration as a woman in a male populated position, you may feel the need to recruit other women to fix equality, but you will still have a difficult task of protecting them as they settle in their new roles.
Inclusion goes beyond just hiring; it means helping everyone feel welcomed and at home. A famous study found that 1/3 of women of colour were passed over for promotion, while 64% of the LGBTQ staff left their jobs due to bullying and public humiliation. Hiring a minority employee in a prominent position and assuming that they’ll learn the loops of the company by themselves and harden eventually is a dangerous mentality.
Same employees, Same room, Same results
Same employees in the same room will always yield the same results. You may want to think twice before deciding to reshuffle your team especially when the current team’s performance is impeccable. However, studies have shown that companies that apply diversity and inclusion improve performance by 40% to 45%. That means that every time you inject new blood into the team, you add insights, value, and performance to the group.
Include a diverse group of individuals in conferences and meetings to inspire and develop new approaches, skills, and ideas while still promoting a healthy debate.
Plan, support and gain commitment from the entire organisation.
If you’re a leader, hold weekly or monthly brainstorming sessions, create small groups of team members with diverse skills and talents to visibly demonstrate how bringing people with various voices to the table can help drive solutions to achieve goals and solve complex problems.
Being an effective leader is not about your ego. All great leaders are compassionate, humble and listen using their wisdom to build trust. With that comes the vision to see other people’s perspectives, understand their vulnerabilities, be aware of their passion and know what drives them to achieve success.
— Nichol Stark
In one of her talks, Kristen Pressner, the head of Human Resource for Roche Diagnostics at the TEDx talks about the subconscious biases. We are all culprits at being subconsciously biased without ever noticing it. For teachers, do you ever find yourself favouring or liking one particular student over the rest, well you may not notice it but will often find yourself having subconsciously favoured an individual student over another.
To learn more about the subconscious mind—it is the inactive part of your brain that works in connection with your behaviour. You often find yourself engaging in a particular activity that you did not realize you did it until later on or if not lucky, you never recall at all.
The subconscious mind
A sound example is when you are busy talking to your friend and a fly lands on your skin, you snap at it subconsciously as your conscious mind is engrossed to what you are saying. Another practical example is when in an exam room where you come across a difficult question. your conscious mind works extra hard to generate an answer while your subconscious mind drives you to bite your nails, fidget or scratch your head.
In our modern world, our brains have been wired to detect liars, harm or danger by just looking at a person. We judge subconsciously which affects our drive on diversity and inclusion. Having a favourite employee means that a more deserving employee is being denied that opportunity.
How do you help individuals feel welcomed?
Similar to our communities today, when a refugee or an immigrant becomes our neighbour. How do we ensure that they feel respected, valued and welcomed? Their children are expected to go to the same schools with our very own, do we watch as they bully their fellow kids? Or do we teach them to respect everyone regardless of their colour, origin, gender or weakness?
Inclusion is all round, it touches every living being, and it begins from the top and permeates the whole community. For instance, if the Mayor of the town is inclusion-minded, he or she will transfer the same concept to the town people and the surrounding communities.
We’ve all been at one-point victims of bullying or discrimination; I assume that the incidence wasn’t a pleasant one for all of us and we wouldn’t wish a repeat of the same. I also believe that we wouldn’t hope it to happen to our families and loved ones, but what about that minority neighbour, colleague, international student, patient or business partner? Would you step up to help?
Unless you are some form of a psycho, the answer should be yes. We all have a task of not just embracing diversity and inclusion but also actively promoting it at the workplace, in schools, and at home.
In truth, there is safety doing the same thing with the same people, but you can never know how far you can get if you do not embrace diversity and inclusion. Embody the change you want to have reflected in the world around you and start now.