What’s Diversity and Inclusion without strategy?
One of the hottest topics in business today is the concept of “diversity and inclusion”. Many of the organizations we work with lament about their challenges in this area, stressing their need to “get more diverse” and struggle to build a more diverse workforce. They talk about needing “more representation of minorities” and ask about “recruitment techniques” to help bolster their ranks.
One problem with this is these organizations aren’t looking at diversity and inclusion as a strategy, but rather a “checkbox”. Do we have folks on our team from this group or that? Yes? Check, check. This is not the intent of the concept, but rather to bring together a broad set of ideas, perspectives, experiences, cultures, and more – to see and accept things from new lenses to better connect with growing audience diversity.
Another problem is that “diversity” and “inclusion” are so often lumped together that they’re assumed to be the same thing. But that’s just not the case. In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen. Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. And diversity alone doesn’t drive inclusion. In fact, without inclusion there’s often a diversity backlash.
Organizations need to think less about “getting diverse” and “being inclusive” and more about understanding the “why”, and developing a strategy for diversity and inclusion within their organizational cultures.
While we may think training is the answer, traditional diversity programs often do not work, and recent research shows that they can even have a negative effect on diversity outcomes. That is, they may actually lead to less diversity within the organization. If that’s not bad enough, the training may even reinforce stereotypes about a particular race or gender.
Organizations instead, need to focus on culture, defining a strategic plan to build, foster and reinforce the behaviors and mindset of inclusiveness, openness, and equity. Utilizing that strategy with everything from recruiting and retention to organizational communications and collaboration – it becomes your operational framework. Once you can understand the impact, importance and ‘why’ of diversity and inclusion, it can begin to shape how the organization should behave to achieve those outcomes.
In short, without knowing what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there, diversity becomes yet another checkbox exercise with no impact, and inclusion remains the buzzword you bring up once a quarter.
About the Author:
Andrea’s 22-year, field-tested background provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers.
In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.