Adding “Inclusion” to Diversity & Inclusion Programs

Diverse groups interminglingIn recent years, trends in diversity have taken a new direction. Instead of the conversation only focusing on the tolerance of differences, it has grown to incorporate the concept of inclusion.

Consider for a moment the implications of diversity in its original, unaltered state. The whole purpose was to simply bring in diverse employees. Incorporating these employees’ diverse viewpoints and ideas into the larger organization was not the goal, simply employing them was enough.

On the other side of that discussion, inclusion offers a very different meaning. The focus is on not only allowing diverse inputs, but actually accepting and embracing them.

Diversity is about more than merely tolerating differences. It’s about embracing various viewpoints to gain a broader understanding.

One of the best strategies for maintaining a diverse workforce is to consistently keep it at the forefront of decisions. Many corporate initiatives have a “set it and forget it” mentality, but if an organization truly wants to be successful in this area, it needs to focus efforts on every aspect of employment: recruiting, training, and succession planning.

A common saying in the business world is a perfect fit for this discussion: What gets measured gets done. If an organization is attempting to improve the time to fill for its recruiting function, making those metrics transparent and easily accessible will naturally help to improve it over time. The same applies here, though it brings up the question of what to measure.

How does a company truly measure its diversity?

The easiest way is to use raw numbers. “We have 10% Latino males” or “Our leadership team is 60% female.” It works and is an accurate measurement, but leaders will need to resist the tendency to view people only as numbers to be counted.

Another method would be to consider promotion rates, succession planning, etc. Instead of merely reporting on a snapshot in time (as in the previous example), the organization is demonstrating a long-term view of diversity. In effect, they are saying, “Diversity is important to us today, but it’s also going to help us to be successful in the future as well.”

A strong diversity program can’t be built in a day; however, over time it is possible to continually hone various efforts on the diversity front into a solid platform for future success.

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