Many organizations that weren’t able to get much traction when using the word diversity started shifting to using the word inclusion. That, in itself, isn’t such a bad decision. What has made it not work for quite a few organizations is they started using a different word without changing anything else they were doing.
What’s Your Intention?
When you use the word “inclusion” do you want people in your organization to focus on behaviors that result in greater productivity, improved customer service or other business benefits?
Or do you use the word “inclusion” to describe a focused recruitment process that targets women or specific ethnic groups?
The first example has powerful, positive, proactive potential. The second example shackles inclusion to decades old approaches that are more akin to affirmative action and EEO than to a 21st century focus on retention, quality or increased market share.
Why Does It Matter?
What matters is that you have a very clear vision for what you want to achieve as a result of your focus on diversity and inclusion.
What matters is that people in your organization are clear about the distinction between affirmative action and inclusion.
What matters is that your managers and supervisors understand, and are able to explain to others, how paying attention to diversity and creating inclusive work environments actually help them successfully get their work done.
What matters is that – if you intend to create or maintain an inclusive environment in the workplace – you are providing employees with the training they need to behave with cultural competence.
More Than a Buzz Word
Some organizations that shifted to using the word “inclusion” in addition to (or instead of) the word “diversity” have found it to be en empowering move that enhances their ability to reach and engage more employees.
They often were able to do this because they had very clear intentions to use the change in language to indicate a different or expanded focus on employee engagement, service excellence or translation of company values into daily expression.
If you want inclusion to be more than a buzz word in your organization then you must align it with programs, policies and practices that link the focus on inclusion to the way people interact with other people.
Remember: inclusion is about the ways you relate, the values you demonstrate and the culture you create!
Discussing Diversity: Real World Topics
Teleseminar Series | 12-1pm (CT) | 1st Tuesdays In September, October and November | $50 for all 3 sessions
Tracy Brown, President of Diversity Trends LLC shares tips and resources to help you facilitate meaningful dialogue about sensitive subjects.
- September: Respecting Coworkers and Customer with Disabilities
- October: Race as a Workplace Factor in the 21st Century
- November: Navigating Holy Days, Holidays and the Holidaze
Tracy will invite a special guest to join her for each session and together they will provide ideas for framing a purposeful dialogue, specific questions you can ask to encourage discussion and at least one suggestion for an activity you can use to encourage cross-cultural interaction.
We use the Diversity Adoption Curve developed by Marilyn Loden with many of our clients. The model provides an excellent visual reminder that the percentage of employees in any organization who are likely to “resist” or be against diversity initiatives is actually very small.
It is important to answer the questions the skeptics have. And it is critical you provide the pragmatists practical and easily understandable motivation. But these two groups add up to more than 2/3 of the workforce.
Don’t make the mistake so many organizations do and design your diversity initiative around the 10% who are on either end of the scale. Let Diversity Trends LLC help you find the right focus and the right balance to engage the largest part of your workforce in your diversity and inclusion initiatives.
If your diversity strategy still revolves around pot luck meals and the music or cultural celebrations of different cultures then you are missing important opportunities to connect diversity and inclusion with your business success.
If you want employees in general, and managers specifically, to pay attention to your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, then it is imperative that you make a direct link to productivity, market share, customer satisfaction, employee retention, increased revenue or some other business-focused outcome.
At Diversity Trends LLC we specialize in helping your organization identify and use the business strategy that makes diversity and inclusion an essential part of their culture.