Updated: Sep 13
Diversity and inclusion agendas are at their best, when they are supported by a strategic vision. 2022 is here and we’ve all heard about 2020 vision, but how does this play out with regard to diversity and inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion agendas operate on the premise that they support inclusion of people from all backgrounds.
These agendas are supposed to develop and maintain the processes through which employees, and other stakeholders, can develop within organisations.
D&I programmes and agendas are meant to support diverse groups to excel within organisations, in the absence of any discriminatory process.
But how far are these initiatives really going to support inclusion for all members of the employee community?
Recent reports seem to cast doubt on the ability, and indeed willingness of organisations to cement diversity and inclusion as a key component of developmental activity.
In many cases, the recruitment of women and members of Black and Minority Ethnic community is actually falling, with notable decreases at leadership level.
What then, is wrong with the diversity and inclusion agenda, and how can a new vision for diversity and inclusion be built to cement real and authentic inclusion into workplace environments?
Diversity without Inclusion equals Failure
There is no point of having diversity without inclusion... that is a given. Yet, that is the mindset that many organisations have adopted.
Many organisations have made strides when it comes to increasing the diversity within the workplace but fail miserably when it comes to inclusion. A host of visible diversity so that they 'look' inclusive, yet not a jot around inclusion and equity.
This method of delivering a diversity and agenda, is not only a straight road to failure, but can also damage relations between employees within the workplace.
You see, diversity and inclusion can be hard for many for understand. I'll set it out here:
It's about hiring diversely and attracting talent from across backgrounds to develop your products or services...
Ensuring that all members of staff, regardless of background, are able to exist within the workplace in a fair and equitable environment.
Now, this may seem like a simple definition (and it is), but its a great place to start. Many still believe that by hiring a diverse staff, they are doing their bit for promoting diversity and inclusion.
They are wrong.
Inclusion is the hard part. Most people would believe that their systems are fair and do not discriminate against anyone, on any grounds. Focusing on the promotion of visible diversity, without concrete, strategic actions to build an inclusive environment, fails both employer and employee.
This is where many organisations fail. Becoming a diverse environment does not mean that an organisation is inclusive.
Now, we will look at some areas where organisations can improve on the diversity and inclusion agenda. We will provide some insights on areas of focus that will assist organisations to develop a more strategic vision for inclusion.
Go easy on HR... they are not experts in Diversity and Inclusion
Many organisations still utilise talent from an HR background to develop the diversity and inclusion agenda. It would appear as though Human Resources is the function via which they think diversity and inclusion can excel, and become an exemplar of best practice.
Whilst HR is indeed important in the D&I space, it does not negate the responsibility of all other business functions.
Just because someone has a background in HR does not mean that they are experts in diversity and inclusion.
Leaders must also wake up to the fact that diversity and inclusion benefits from experience in people management, business, psychology, change management, policy, political and finance and a host of other skills and abilities to be able to deliver lasting change.
The benefits of this are huge. Firstly, it will prioritise diversity and inclusion and secondly, it will be at the forefront of people and business functioning. This will ensure that people with the right skills are employed to get the job done.
In 2020, leaders should endeavour to refocus the diversity and inclusion remit, considering key functions within the leadership, learning and development, business management and development functions.
Whilst diversity and inclusion is important to the HR function, many feel that it is the preserve of HR, and make a mistake in acting on this assumption.