Beyond Diversity: Employers Focus on Inclusion
Remember when diversity was a hot topic? Today, in many organizations, inclusion is taking the lead.
Beyond Diversity: Employers Focus on Inclusion by Steve Bates, freelance writer and a former editor for SHRM Online 1/29/2013. (This www.shrm.org article content was sent to you by: Ms. Barbara Romero, MBA)
Just what is inclusion? And how does it differ from diversity?
While many practitioners say that diversity and inclusion are intertwined, some make critical distinctions between the terms. In the most basic sense, they say, diversity is about counting people, while inclusion is about making people count.
Organizations are making people count by taking advantage of the mix of races, ethnicities, ages, gender identities, religions and life experiences in their workforce. Leaders are going out of their way to solicit employees’ opinions. Some are even insisting that workers contribute honestly during meetings—and guaranteeing that they won’t be punished for saying something that management might not want to hear.
“Inclusion is the new diversity,” said Fiona Citkin, Ph.D., managing director at Expert MS Inc., an intercultural diversity-consulting firm based in the New York City area. “You still need traditional diversity, but it’s in the background.”
Inclusion is “providing a sense of belonging to all members of the organization so they feel welcomed, respected and valued and can contribute at the highest level of their individual and team capabilities,” explained Deb Dagit, president of Deb Dagit Diversity, a consulting firm in Washington, N.J. “People understanding from the frame and perspective of the other person” is how Mary-Frances Winters, president and founder of the Winters Group, a consulting firm in the Washington, D.C., area, describes inclusion.
“Inclusion is for everybody,” including white men, added Martin Davidson, Ph.D., a consultant, author and professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “It can work internally, and it can work externally.”
Making the Business Case
Some diversity-and-inclusion practitioners say the business case for inclusion is stronger—and easier to present—than the business case for diversity. The reason, they say, is that diversity is what organizations “need” to do, such as comply with laws and regulations and ensure that a workforce is representative of the labor market. Inclusion, on the other hand, involves a diverse workforce to improve engagement, productivity and the bottom line.
“It’s diversity of perspective, diversity of thought,” said Halley Bock, president, CEO and owner of Fierce Inc., a training and coaching firm in the Seattle area. “It’s where an organization needs to be mining to gain a competitive advantage. It’s hard for a lot of leaders. It’s not really an inherent skill that people come to the table with.” Moreover, it can’t be delegated, she said. (READ MORE)