Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity can be viewed as the acknowledging and understanding of differences between people across various forms of social, cultural and value differences. According to ideal.com, some people view diversity as a combination of different backgrounds, experiences and views and they believe that making use of these differences is what leads to innovation. Some people however view diversity as just fair representation without necessarily considering its impact on productivity. (Mondal, 2020)
Inclusion involves the creation of collaborative, supportive and respectful environment that enhances participation an input of all employees. Diversity and inclusion therefore serve the purpose of creating missions, visions, strategies and practices to support a diverse workplace and leverage the impact of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage. (Mondal, 2020)
There are practices that tend to hinder diversity an inclusion attempts. In today’s global market, most diversity and inclusion initiatives are developed to comply with governance and self-regulation (Llopis, 2017). Hiring goals only elevate diversity in numbers but it will not automatically create inclusivity. Employers expect employees targeted by these initiatives to change and fit into the current workplace culture. Diversity and inclusion activities are mostly limited to human resources and corporate social responsibility, and are hence disconnected from the growth opportunities. These initiatives are in most cases primarily focused on recruitment, reputation and management and this in turn limits their effectiveness. Diversity and inclusion activities therefore tend to be viewed as expenses rather than investments that drive positive influence in the work place (Llopis, 2017). More attempts at inclusion should therefore be made in order to broaden the scope and general impact of D&I initiatives.
Llopis adds that institutions also tend to use D&I plans for recognition purposes. There is therefore the need to stop looking for recognitions and start strategizing on how to earn the respect of employees, hence giving them influence over the growth of the company. This in return creates positive work environment and motivates employees to be more productive.
D&I requires both diverse and non-diverse leaders to work together and create a positive culture that embraces differences of thought and deploys the required best practices, tools and resources to increase participation, performance and general satisfaction.
Companies also fail to establish inclusion as a continuous process rather than a one-time training activity. It is therefore important to create constant routines, actions and practices that will ensure a continuance of D&I in the work place (Florentine, 2019). Emphasis on maintaining a state of inclusion therefore goes a long way in establishing the sustainability of such initiatives.
According to the United States department of commerce National Partnership for Reinventing Government Benchmarking Study, organizations that promote and achieve diversity attract and retain employees and also increases customer loyalty. Leaders are also mainly responsible for the success or failure of D&I policies since it is their role to ensure the effectiveness of such policies. They should therefore form strategic plans to develop such initiatives throughout the organization. Views of workers and their participation is also vital to the productivity of these initiatives (Gore, 2000).
Diversity is often championed to be the force behind innovation and adaptability in institutions. Gaining from it however has proved challenging in work establishments. There are many theories and best practices that some organizations have adopted (C. Greer Jordan, 2016).
One of such is the social identity theory which states that people desire to belong to a group that enjoys distinct and positive identities. This may in turn foster activities that are congruent with the group’s collective identity therefore fostering stereotypical perceptions. This alone is enough to create in group favoritism and discrimination from the outside. This school of thought therefore brings about the need for inclusion as part of the diversity package, failure to which workplace productivity is likely to decline (Tajfel H, 1985). It is therefore important to establish a blend between social structures and individual identity while trying to establish inclusion in an organization.
Employers and companies have long recognized the value of diversity as far as acquiring a competitive edge in terms of selling products to diverse users in involved. The problem however arises when diversity and inclusion are put together and assumed to have the same meaning. Diversity only equals representation in the work place and without inclusion, the vital connections that bring about diverse talent, innovation, increased participation and gradual business growth become impossible to achieve. It is therefore important to encourage inclusion for the whole concept of D&I to be effective.
- Greer Jordan, H. T. (2016). Diversity and Inclusion Concepts and Practice as informed by Gestalt Training. Gestalt Review, 20, 188-200. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/gestaltreview.20.2.0188
Florentine, S. (2019, February 14). Diversity and inclusion. Retrieved from CIO: https://www.cio.com/article/3262704/diversity-and-inclusion-8-best-practices-for-changing-your-culture.html
Gore, A. (2000). National Partership for Reinventing Government(U.S). Washington D.C: Washington D.C,U.S Department of Commerce.
Llopis, G. (2017, January 16). 5 Reasons Diversity and Inclusion Fails. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2017/01/16/5-reasons-diversity-and-inclusion-fails/#ed968c650dfe
Mondal, S. (2020, January 1). Diversity and inclusion: A beginners guide for HR Professionals. Retrieved from Ideal: https://ideal.com/diversity-and-inclusion/
Tajfel H, T. J. (1985). The social identity theory of intergroup behaviour (2nd ed.). Chicago: Nelson Hall.
Ward, A. H. (2014). Eyeing the New DIVERSITY. American libraries, 45, 32-35.