In the first article in this series, we touched upon the idea and concept of diversity and explained why it is so critical for organizations in today’s world. To survive and succeed in this age and day, workplaces need representation from all kinds of groups, whether ethnic, social, cultural, or gender-based.
But then diversity by itself is not enough. Just having a varied and different workforce will not benefit organizations unless and until this diverse set of people is made to feel wanted and included in the organization and its functioning at all levels. It is diversity and inclusion that will do the trick.
So, therefore, if having diversity is critical, inclusion is even more so. Because having diversity without inclusion is like a half-finished job, a job half done.
As Verna Myers, the well-known inclusion strategist, says,
Diversity is being asked to the party
Inclusion is being asked to dance
There is no better way to understand the idea of inclusion than this. If you invite someone to a party but don’t welcome them or don’t make them feel included, won’t they feel uncomfortable and unwanted? If they don’t feel they belong, what do you think they will do? They will likely leave your party as soon as possible, defeating the very purpose of inviting them.
Also Read: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Part 1
The same holds in the case of workplaces. You may hire people from different backgrounds to tick a box or satisfy a legal requirement, but if they don’t feel included or feel a sense of belongingness, it won’t help anyone. It will actually be counter-productive and will do more harm than good. Diversity and inclusion have to go hand in hand.
The idea behind hiring different kinds of people is to tap their potential and skill sets, which can help you reach your organizational goals of success.
But to get people to contribute, they have to feel welcomed; they need to feel that they belong to the place and, therefore, can be the way they want to be, which basically means they have the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints without unnecessary criticism or judgement.
It is a very obvious thing. If you want people to give their best, you must first make them feel comfortable and feel that their opinions, viewpoints and perspectives matter even if they don’t match those of the others. You need to give them that confidence. And if that requires some kind of hand-holding to begin with, so be it. If people are made to feel like outsiders, they will never contribute. So it is critical to listen, pay attention and give value to what they have to say or do.
Therefore inclusion is very critical, even more than diversity, primarily because it is not something that can be done easily. Getting people on board is simpler. But getting to include them is not only challenging but a long-drawn process, and it requires a change in mindset, in the way things may have been done in the past, which may be deeply embedded in the workplace culture.
Inclusion is a set of actions by people running an organization to ensure that every group gets the same opportunities as everyone else.
People need to feel valued, involved and appreciated, and they need to feel and believe that they have access to opportunities, growth, and advancement. That will help them see that they have a future with that organization.
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That’s how and why their personality will come through, and they will give their best, which will also benefit the organization. Once they learn not to hold back, they will give their best.
The benefits of workplace diversity and inclusion can be many-
- Increase in job performance
- Creativity and innovation
- Decrease in leave and absenteeism
- Decrease in turnover
- Company becoming more profitable
So while diversity is essential, inclusion is equally important. Otherwise, diversity has the danger of being viewed as tokenism. For an employee to give their best, they need to feel heard, included and empowered. Therefore diversity and inclusion in the workplace have become a given for success.
And therefore, if they have been invited or asked to dance, they should feel free to dance the way they want to if they have to have that sense of belonging.
So now you have diversity, you have inclusion. But is that enough? The answer is ‘No.’
Watch this space to get the answer.
Watch this space…