The difference between diversity and inclusion.
Before focusing on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, let’s first define the terms and the difference between them. Diversity, defined, is the condition of being composed of differing elements. Some teams may have greater amounts of diversity than others, but every team has a unique make-up. This includes, but is not limited to, differences such as: race, gender, sexual orientation, generation, tenure, education, experience, background, thinking preferences and style, expressiveness, nationality, and more. Inclusion, however, is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Diversity is the makeup of any given team, and inclusion is the behaviors of the team.
Diversity alone is not enough.
Diversity in the workplace by itself doesn’t lead to inclusion or a great corporate culture. As an equation, diversity (your team’s unique makeup) plus inclusion (how you choose to behave) equals your culture (who you are). As noted diversity advocate Vernā Myers puts it, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” And as one of our clients noted, “equity is getting to choose the music.” In short, you hired a diverse team, you invited them into the boardroom, and now you need the culture that gives them a voice once there. That resulting culture drives performance, innovation, collaboration, creativity, recruitment, and retention.
Benefits of diversity in the workplace.
This isn’t opinion. Deloitte Insights (2016) found that organizations with inclusive cultures are:
- 2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
- 3x as likely to be high performing
- 6x more likely to be innovative and agile
- 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes
There are distinct benefits of diversity in the workplace. Working on teams with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us increases innovation (HBR Source). Inclusive behaviors exhibited among diverse teams lead to improved and more accurate group thinking that delivers 60% better results. Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute experience supports this research. In our inclusion training we’ve found that when faced with a problem, the diverse group substantially outperforms the individual over 95% of the time.
In addition to business results, diverse and inclusive workplaces are the growing expectation. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the U.S. workforce. According to Gallup’s research, this group is not only aware of a vast range of perspectives and comfortable in uncomfortable conversations, but they envision a workplace where everyone’s voice is heard and valued. Building an inclusive culture drives better performance and it’s what your current and future employees demand. With that as the background, what’s the right action to take?
A solution that works.
While US companies spend an estimated combined $8 billion on diversity and inclusion training annually, the prevailing research shows that the current training is inconclusive in its effectiveness. A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had “no positive effects in the average workplace.” (HBR Source) There needs to be a different way, a better way.
In our daily lives, we see and categorize people as a way of making sense of the world. To do this we “draw lines” around people and we then believe these lines to be real. This belief results in a distance we keep from the other person. We perceive this distance as difference.
The lines we draw around people are not necessarily bad. We draw them and describe people in generalities for efficiency and safety. These lines help us make decisions quickly, make sense of the world faster, predict outcomes, and form relationships with those similar to us. However, this efficiency can also overgeneralize, prevent relationships with those different than us, make uninformed decisions, and exclude others. Simply stated, when you draw lines around a person – when you stereotype – you might know about them, but you will never know them. And knowing them is where relationships are formed.
Your organization is made of up relationships. It’s how business gets done. By increasing your awareness, you can see every person as a person and every interaction as an opportunity to connect. You can choose to pause, be curious, ask questions, and make more intentional behavior choices.
How to increase intentional behavior.
If you want your people to “close the distance of difference,” you need to identify and then teach those behaviors that lead to a more inclusive workplace:
- Empathetic listening
- Remaining curious about other perspectives
- Asking open-ended questions to understand someone greater
- Telling your story for others to better understand you.
More tactically, there are also seemingly small behaviors that make all the difference:
- How you behave in a meeting, paying attention to who spoke the least and who spoke the most
- How you onboard new talent
- How you structure project meetings to take in a variety of viewpoints
- Where you sit for lunch.
In these small decisions lie the feeling of people being included. Genuinely attempting connection with others leads to relationships and authentic relationships are at the core of inclusive environments. It is in the relationships between people where trust, understanding, empathy, and compassion thrive in businesses. In the words of Herb Keller, Co-Founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines, “The business of business is people; yesterday, today, and forever.” Give your people a culture that values them and gives them a voice. This is where inclusion exits, in a place where everyone’s voice is invited, heard, and welcomed.
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