There is a growing consensus on the importance of including people of color, women, and LGBT individuals in the workplace. Research shows that businesses that embrace diversity have an edge over their competitors. Also, few executives today would dispute that it improves teamwork and productivity.
However, it seems that there is still a long way to go when it comes to diversity and inclusion programs. Experts believe that the issue is not just about having a diverse workforce, but also how to implement inclusion. First, it is important to understand the two terms as they are often used interchangeably, even by HR recruiters.
Diversity and Inclusion
One way to understand it is to think of diversity as the what, and inclusion as the how. That is to say, that diversity is about the demographics of the workplace. It is when HR consultants make an effort to integrate people of color, LGBT individuals, and women.
On the other hand, Inclusion is how the HR recruiters in the organization go about implementing a culture of diversity. It involves making an effort to gain insights into the issues affecting the under served demographics in the workplace.
Why Inclusion Is Important
To be sure, D&I programs can spur creativity, increase the organization’s market share, and boost its image in the society. These facts have already been backed by numerous studies. What is emerging, is that not only is diversity alone not enough, but without inclusion it could result in a backlash.
Another way to look at inclusion is as the process of addressing the challenges that come with diversity. After incorporating diversity, the human resource department should work on improving communications and relationships. It can only happen when HR recruiters understand inclusivity as the foundation of a diverse workforce productive.
For example, executives in an organization may choose to include more women and minorities. But the organization may not have the framework or culture that incorporates their views. Without inclusion, even if the firm uses a talent acquisition service, it would still be difficult to realize their staff’s true potential.
But what can HR recruiters do to ensure that there is as much inclusion as there is diversity?
Culture and Authenticity
Authenticity is one of the issues highlighted by research from Harvard Business Review. The study found that people from under served communities feel that they cannot be authentic while at work. For example, women in science and tech firms felt that if they acted like a man, they would be looked at more favorably by HR recruiters. Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics, felt that they needed to adjust and conform to a style and demeanor set by the organization.
Additionally, people from under served communities often do not feel confident about their career prospects. What frustrates them is the lack of clear networking opportunities. Opportunities that would otherwise give them the visibility they need to showcase their talent.
One HR staffing solution to improving prospects for diverse groups is to have a sponsor. A sponsor is a senior-level manager who can act as a mentor to their protégé. The manager puts their career on the line to advocate for their career advancement. It has been shown that sponsorship increases the likelihood of job satisfaction. On the other hand, organizations without a sponsor program tend to have lower rates of retention.
It is important to ensure that HR consultants tasked with implementing D&I programs understand the value of inclusion. Inclusive managers can be more effective if they make a point of observing the following principles:
- Empower: Nurture an environment where everyone will feel safe to speak up and propose new ideas.
- Feedback: Listen to advice and give actionable feedback.
- Team Success: Share the success of the project with the team that was involved.
Diversity is an important aspect of any modern workplace. It improves creativity and boosts the bottom-line for the organization. However, for HR recruiters to realize the benefits of diversity, they must pay attention to the needs of their staff. Executives who incorporate inclusivity into their D&I programs benefit both the firm and its staff.