When Diversity & Inclusion are engrained in your company's culture, the benefits come to full fruition. To get there we need to make sure that D&I initiatives do not stay on the level of "thinking" and "talking" about. They need to become part of the essence of the culture. Expressed in the values of each individual.

Diversity is the who, inclusion the how

Oftentimes I hear both words used in one go, as if one leads to the other, whichever direction you look at it. Interesting thought, but alas, it simply doesn't work that way.

Here's the difference:

  • Diversity is a noun, it is a mix of many people, diverse types of people. Diversity is the who.
  • Inclusion, on the other hand, is a verb. It is the act or state of including a mix of people.  Inclusion is the how, the strategies and behaviours that create, welcome and embrace diversity.

The difference between diversity and inclusion seems obvious. However, the two terms are often used interchangeably or combined into one strategy for business. Therefore we need to pay attention to both differentiating and addressing the lack or misuse of both within businesses. To have one without the other simply doesn’t work. It generally leads to wasted resources and little progress. Consider Google who between 2014 and 2016 spent $265 million to increase its diversity numbers (to little avail). The number (265M) became even more well known after the company fired an employee who wrote a memo against diversity efforts.

Furthermore, it is not because one is present (say diversity) that the other will follow automatically (inclusion in this case). Or vice versa.

 

“Diversity is being asked to the party;

Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

– Verna Myers

Equity (a.k.a. the process) is key in the Diversity & Inclusion practice.

Indeed, next to the more familiar concepts we elaborated in the previous paragraph, we need to take also in account the "equity".

  • Contrary to diversity and inclusion, equity is not an outcome. Equity refers to the process a company consistently engages in to ensure that people with marginalised identities have the opportunity to grow, contribute, and develop — regardless of their identity. To make it tangible: a study of a hiring process found that candidates with “white-sounding names” (Greg and Emily) were 50% more likely to receive a call back than candidates with “African-American-sounding names” (Lakisha and Jamal). Equity ensures that the underlying process avoids that trap (or works toward avoiding it)

Engraining Diversity & Inclusion (& Equity) in your culture is key to success

There are plenty of diversity & inclusion initiatives. They range from tallying the people over measuring expressed behaviours to tracking processes that support inclusion, like access to leadership, high profile projects, mentoring...

Current research (*) suggests that diversity is a true competitive differentiator in the market and adds value to the bottom line. Yet, as we have seen, spending $265 million will not get you there. We want to ensure that your diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives will perform the way they are supposed to. Therefore, it is pivotal to measure and track the intangibles that make up the organisational system: the culture. Any culture is, in essence, composed of values. Collaborators bring in the values which make up the system.

It is important to look beyond the values designed and defined on a corporate level and distributed top-down. The key is to monitor and track the evolution of the values present in the organisation bottom up. With this information D&I programs can be designed to awaken desired values and nurture the present ones. We reap the full benefits when: (1) inclusion is a full part of your organisational culture and (2) supported with both diversity measures and equity initiatives.

 

 


(*) as a starter I would recommend this article from McKinsey, or this one also from McKinsey, and these from HBR, The Financial Times and Forbes

(**) connect with me to receive a copy: Emmanuelle's email