From Diversity to Inclusion

dreamstime_m_45675068by Lynda Keating
EVP Culture and Leadership Practice

Sometimes it seems that I have been working toward an inclusive and diverse workforce for most of my professional career. I started actively seeking out and recruiting female engineers in the 1980’s for a large technology company and continue, in 2018, to work with various Canadian organizations to enhance inclusiveness in the workplace.

 

Moving from a focus on Diversity to the activity of Inclusion

Working with clients in over 15 countries over the past 5 years, I have come to realize that organizations tend to focus on “diversity”, which can simply be a counting exercise – “How many do we have?” and “What do we need?”.

Organizations that want to thrive in the current environment, need to focus on the activity of “inclusion”. By definition, inclusion means purposefully inviting people to join the group and actively listening to the variety of experiences and ideas that they bring to the table.  Organizations that recognize the value in the varying backgrounds that reflect a fabulous kaleidoscope of colours and perspectives will enable and sustain a constructive culture.

Diversity is a foregone conclusion

In a world where most of the applicants for your open positions are likely born in another country and/or after 1982-5, a diverse workforce will obviously occur by osmosis. We need to break through the complacency of looking around and saying – “See how diverse our workforce is” and shift the power and influence to the few who actively choose to include all these diverse individuals in the decision-making processes. It is about never discounting an experience because it didn’t happen “here” or the fact that it comes from someone who doesn’t look, live, or love like us.

Tips on how to be Inclusive

  • Ensure everyone has a voice at the table, not just a seat
  • Be courageous enough to challenge bias where you encounter it or hear it
  • Try “blind” resume review to ensure that you are avoiding unconscious biases
  • Give all team members a chance, not just the most experienced
  • Be sincerely curious and interested in other people

Innovation comes from looking at old problems in new ways.  What better way to ensure innovation, than tapping into all the resources, experiences and ideas that are readily available to your organization.

By supporting an inclusive environment and challenging the status quo, you will elicit the best from your people and stimulate growth.

Exploring the possibilities

If you are interested in exploring the choice of inclusion, contact us at ACHIEVEBLUE to discuss our Bias and Inclusion Assessment and Program.