There’s been a lot of noise in this space. Some of it has been relentless chatter, some of it relevant conversations. Apparently, there’s fatigue now associated to this space despite it having been a trendy buzzword phrase in most boardrooms.
But, that’s exactly what it’s not. It’s neither a buzzword or trend nor is it a word that just by over-use becomes fatigued. It’s proven that diverse teams have a better rate of success than non-diverse ones. But there’s more than just success and business outcomes to this whole play. It’s not just what meets the eye and that’s quite a lot including more innovation, competitive business advantage, better business outcomes, economic growth, market share captures, increased creativity and the list goes on. But the higher goal or vision is more philosophical and caters to business responsibility to create a positive impact on society. If we can build inclusive spaces for people to co-exist and nurture and build relationships that sustain and create positive impact without strain or bias or any form of discrimination, we have impacted the world in a positive way.
Diversity isn’t unidimensional, it’s a multi-verse with all kinds and forms of diversity norms playing a role. Age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin all forms of diversity should be encouraged. This helps build a homogenous community that reflect our cultural and social fabric. Building safe and nurturing environments and empowering different people to live and work in a space that does not discriminate and respects and values people and does not judge their backgrounds or orientations is crucial.
Inclusion is often lumped together with Diversity, but diversity does not drive inclusion and often there’s a diversity backlash if inclusion isn’t part of the larger program. Inclusion promotes and sustains a sense of belonging. It also ensures that the inherent worth and dignity of people from diverse backgrounds are recognised and is involvement and empowerment of the people involved.
For building a sustainable and scalable diversity program, inclusion is the key. Ensuring that all the people involved are valued and given equal opportunities for growth and development.
Diversity is also not relevant or powerful without absolute, seamless inclusion in tow. While diversity brings a varied set of perspectives, inclusion allows for these different perspectives to co-exist and leverage off each other. What is the point of driving diversity if inclusion does not exist and people are closed off operating with their owns sets of biases? Inclusion is behaviour and manifestation of comfortable co-existence. Diversity is easier to achieve while inclusion is a tough journey. Respect should be the primary cultural aspect that is promoted for an inclusive workplace. Leveraging, nurturing and nourishing diversity to reach a space of belonging and being celebrated for who they are and what they bring to the table.
As Verna Myers, D & I Expert said in her TED Talk – Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance…
While statistically diversity can be driven, it’s not truly about the numbers, it’s about mind-sets. I remember one of my ex-bosses telling me that although I was the youngest on the leadership team at that time, I brought in a very different combination of skills and perspectives that no one else could. He also went on to tell me how the best teams needed a cynic, an optimist, a pessimist, someone young, someone older and more experienced. This further stretched into someone from a small town, someone else from a large town with different kinds of upbringing because these teams were a microcosm of the world outside and they would then help enable a more robust mechanism of delivering success for the business. This was quite a few years ago and I loved his insight. Little did I know I was getting my first lessons in D & I.
The ethos, pathos and logos of diversity and inclusion should ideally all come together to drive the overarching ideology and then leading to truly diverse and inclusive workplaces.
The more the world is shrinking, the more polarised it is becoming, and D & I could be the answer to open minds that are often closed to the idea of different but equal in all form.
As communicators and marketers, we are custodians in some form of what we do and how we do it when it comes to the story on diversity and inclusion and it’s good to take on the onus to ensure that all we do and say and write reflects a truly holistic approach to D & I.
I close with one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite poets of all time and hope that this world strives to become more beautiful simply because it is so different to begin with… We all have a leaf of this page to take back with us into our lives. It’s important that we reflect on how we behave with the world around us and its people on an everyday basis and consciously work on ourselves to be more inclusive and open to the beauty of diversity.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou