Updated: Sep 13
The subject of diversity and inclusion is emotive and can prove problematic within the workplace. Do we want diversity, or should we perhaps look at inclusion?
Should we look at hiring for more diversity or should we look at making processes more inclusive? What about training? What about budget? Who is going to do it?
Do we really need it... after all we treat everyone exactly the same?
Questions abound and these are important questions! The truth is, there is no 'one way' for diversity and inclusion.
It is a two way process, encompassing a host of variables and actions, that will support diversity on its journey to inclusion.
Sadly, many organisations still see either diversity or inclusion but tend not to see the two together, as part of a strategic process. This post helps leaders develop a joined up approach to diversity and inclusion.
Enabling a meaningful conversation
Diversity and inclusion has become a hot topic. Many utilising it as though it was part of their company slogan... 'We value diversity and inclusion'.
However, on closer inspection, and according to several reports around the issue, it appears that we are failing at diversity and inclusion.
Is it a lack of understanding of the issue? Is it a lack of competency to deliver on the agenda? Or is it something else.
Failure to engage fully with all aspects of diversity and subsequent inclusion, will result in some members of the workplace feeling marginalised and excluded from the agenda.
Many organisations have a healthy focus on gender, whilst steering clear from conversations that are associated with more difficult issues, such as racial equality, disability and mental health.
The common refrain of ' they are not doing enough to support us' is heard across many organisations, with leadership seemingly unable to develop strategies to effectively address the concerns of people from these groups.
Conversations around race and disability often prove difficult within the workplace. Often, leadership and employees alike, fail to understand the value of these discussions and how they are applicable to them, on an individual level.
The truth is, that whilst these conversations can prove difficult, they are important because they really matter within the workplace.
It is incumbent on leadership to engage authentically in these debates. It is a starting point of enabling strategies that embed inclusive practice.
It develop effective branding and create a more productive and cohesive workplace environment.
Having the courage to face the uncomfortable conversations, head on, will result in a more informed leadership, that is able to better understand the issues, as they affect company employees.
Talking about race leads to better engagement with diversity and inclusion and gives the organisation a fighting chance at success.
Open, honest and courageous conversations discussion really work to build knowledge and inform strategy around diversity and inclusion.
Are We Really as Engaged as We Think?
Projects and initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion are all around. Many organisations have them. Results, however, can be mixed.
Are we targeting the right objectives, that build out inclusive processes across organisations and how are we engaging with inclusion?
The fact is, diversity and inclusion are both key components of the infrastructure of business. Together, they deliver benefits for employees and stakeholders and improve key business functions and objectives.
In order to engage effectively with D&I, leadership must ensure that projects and initiatives, consider D&I as key outputs within project outcomes.
Whilst it is very often seen as a 'people process', and consign it to the confines of Human Resources, many fail to recognise that it is also applicable within projects that develop products and services.
D&I is an outcome of project management, across all areas of business function. As such, impact assessing diversity and inclusion across project design and implementation is an important activity.
Considering whether projects are failing to meet the needs of diverse groups and / or failing to incorporate key elements of inclusion, is key.
Consider a diversity and inclusion needs analysis to help you define your strategic objectives around diversity and inclusion.
Effective Leadership is the Way Forward
Engagement around diversity and inclusion starts with effective leadership.
Very often, leadership teams take on a 'diversity champion' role. Whilst this is helpful, it doesn't do nearly enough to develop the diversity and inclusion agenda, in a way that promotes real organisational culture change.
Senior diversity champions must ensure that they allocate the time to, and follow specific action to fully support the agenda.
Additionally, leadership often makes the decision that diversity and inclusion is something that should be rolled out at operational levels, and has little value within the top tier of organisational structure.