Diversity vs. Inclusion

Diversity vs. Inclusion

Cincinnati is becoming the home to one of the country’s most ethnically diverse communities. Having a workplace that reflects this community helps create an atmosphere that is culturally competent and welcoming to new neighbors and friends.

Maintaining a diverse workforce ensures that employees are able to relate more effectively to your customers. It also enhances the ability to attract and retain the most talented professionals as diversity becomes more of a requirement  ̶  especially for our younger generation.

Having diversity and inclusion initiatives is just as important as any other job function and has become a business imperative.

The term diversity may have a different definition from one person to another, but for me diversity means the unique differences and similarities we bring to our environment.

Diversity encompasses much more than race and gender. It is a variety of characteristics, visible or not, that distinguish one individual from another. These characteristics include but are not limited to: age, culture, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, gender identify, race and physical abilities.

Inclusion on the other hand is an organizational practice stemming from the sociological notion of inclusiveness, which comes from the act of your own personal efforts to include every person you work with every day.

Inclusion to me is a sense of belonging: it is that feeling of being respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so then you can do your best work.

There is a saying I hear often in the diversity practice world. “Diversity is like being invited to the party; however, inclusion is like being asked to dance.”

When you think about that statement for a moment you are able to clearly imagine the differences between both acts. Being asked to the party is great, but think about what happens when you get there, you can imagine yourself now questioning, “So what do I do now that I’m here?”

Depending on your personality, you may connect easily or you may blend yourself into the walls like I have many times out of fear of being rejected. However, when you examine the second part of the statement “being asked to dance” now that is when the magic happens.

Imagine that moment when you enter the party and then are asked to dance. How does it feel to be included in the festivities?

As we reflect upon the difference between the terms diversity and inclusion, we are able to clearly look at our own work environment and ask ourselves, as leaders, how many of our party guests have we asked to dance?

Employees everywhere appreciate being considered a valuable asset more than the compensation they receive.

In survey after survey of reasons why people leave their jobs, the top five all lead to the feeling of engagement with their role, their boss and their co- workers.

Now you may be asking yourself, “So how do I start this inclusion thing?” Well that’s an easy question; you can start by asking your employees what their thoughts and ideas are while in meetings or in your one-on-ones, then utilizing their suggestions when possible.

This brings a sense of ownership and value to their role; and best of all a sense of pride and the feeling of being included.

When this happens you are less likely to have attrition and you will notice that your performance levels increase dramatically. 

Lisette Martinez Davis is the director of diversity services for TriHealth.

Related Stories

No stories found.
CDO Magazine