Diversity & Inclusion Programmes
Practitioners often get tripped up in (1) defining the concepts ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’, and (2) understanding how to use these concepts in transforming the organisation. It is crucial to have a clear understanding that while these concepts work towards different ends, they link together to create an integrated and sustainable transformation effort.
Diversity is the presence of difference within a given setting. Diversity represents the full spectrum of human demographic differences -- such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, socio-economic status, disability, value orientations, family composition, education level and tenure. It is important to understand that diversity is a relational concept that … A person is not diverse, no matter how many norms or glass ceilings they shatter. Diversity is about a collective or a group and can only exist in relationship to others. Whilst they may bring diversity to your team, they in themselves are not diverse … they’re are unique.
Inclusion refers to a cultural and environmental sense of belonging. It can be described as the extent to which employees are valued, respected, accepted and encouraged to fully participate in the organisation. Employees in inclusive environments feel appreciated for their unique characteristics and are therefore comfortable sharing their ideas and other aspects of their true and authentic selves.
While diversity and inclusion are intertwined, they are not the same. Whereas diversity is often equated to ‘representation’, inclusion reflects the cultivating of an inclusive environment that attracts diverse talent, encourages participation, fosters innovation, and leads to meaningful collaboration. Simply having a wide range of demographic characteristics won't make a difference to an organisation's bottom line unless the people feel welcomed, valued and included. To be a diverse organization simply means that you have the presence of differences of identity (e.g., gender and people of color) throughout your organization. However, an organization can be diverse without being inclusive. A company can also be diverse without being equitable.
Equity is an approach that focusses on fairness – to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist, and that, as a result, we all don’t all start from the same place. Equity is a process that begins by acknowledging that unequal starting place and continues to correct and address the imbalance. The concepts of “advantages and barriers” are applicable when talking about equity.
The importance of Inclusion:
Within our integral (post-postmodern) age, embracing organisational diversity has become an crucial element of corporate success. Diversification efforts have been driven by legislative compliance, moral/ethical obligations, economic justifications (the business case) and; operationalised through a barrage of Human Resource initiative.
The reality is that diversity’s double-edged sword will impact organisational functionality. Penalties, the loss of business opportunities and toxic connectivity are but a few of the adverse consequences of diversity gone wrong. Organisations place, not only their brand, but also the sustainability of the entire company at risk if they do not embrace the challenges and opportunities that diversity brings. Mismanaged diversity fosters exclusion, alienation, demotivation, conflict, misunderstanding, and disengagement. Well managed diversity on the contrary enable inclusion, creativity, synergy, meaningfulness and engagement - an environment in which people bring their heart and soul (discretionary effort) to the workplace.
TDCI offers our clients a range of interventions (themed experiences, facilitated sessions or structured programmes) that create conversation, deep-awareness, insights and adaptive diversity intelligence. Contact one of our consultants to find out about the different options.