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How Inclusion Improves Diversity In Small Businesses

Diversity without inclusion is like a car without an engine. No matter how great the car looks, the vehicle will not run if there’s no engine. These practices are fully dependent on each other, despite being two distinct concepts.

Diversity is “the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes for example, individual and organizational characteristics, values, belief, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors.” – The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Inclusion is “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.” – SHRM

Diversity (the mixture) is a noun, and inclusion (the achievement) is a verb.

The Tie That Binds

A diverse employee population cannot thrive unless the working environment is inclusive.  For diversity to actually work, you must not only gather a diverse team but also give each member a voice at the table. This requires:

These approaches represent the process of creating an inclusive environment. Without strategies like these, growth among your diverse staff cannot occur, resulting in untapped potential and wasted resources.

A Top Priority

As the workforce continues to evolve, job seekers and employees are increasingly listing diversity and inclusion as important factors in their decision to accept a job, stay with an employer, or seek employment elsewhere. For example, studies show that when weighing a new job, younger workers (such as Millennials) are much more likely to consider diversity and inclusion, compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

Employees aren’t the only ones viewing diversity and inclusion closely. Shareholders, customers, suppliers, and the general public are also closely examining the issue—and executives are taking note. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, the number of executives who reported diversity and inclusion as a top priority grew by 32 percent, compared to 2014. But, with this priority comes challenges.

Diversity Isn’t Built in a Day

Optimizing a diverse workforce is no simple matter, as diversity contains both visible and invisible components. Visible traits include gender, body size, skin color, behaviors, and age. Invisible traits include religion, military experience, socio-economic status, thinking style, personality, values, education, work background, and marital status.

Building a workforce that incorporates so many individualized traits, it can be difficult to know what issues might cause conflict or discord. In many cases, however, the sources of conflict stem from cultural differences, communication barriers, gender inequality, generational gaps, and a refusal to accommodate others’ beliefs.

Today, most employers of all sizes are using training to solve diversity problems and achieve an inclusive workplace. But, while training is becoming more crucial, studies show that it’s not enough.

Training and education are essential to spreading awareness of diversity, but there’s a growing need for eradicating bias from talent processes. Consequently, organizations are fusing training with transparency, accountability, and measurement. This means not just educating employees about diversity and inclusion, but also:

  • Removing elements causing bias
  • Providing managers with avenues for identifying and addressing bias
  • Encouraging managers to work with their staff to develop solutions
  • Holding people accountable for perpetrating bias
  • Measuring your talent processes (such as hiring, promotion, compensation, and performance management)

We hope that you’ll follow our content this month as we continue to provide practical solutions that can help develop a diverse and inclusive workplace. We’ll be providing articles, a webinar and other hands-on resources to help promote healthy workforces.



May 15, 2018




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