Organizations across the globe have strong understanding of what diversity is and its importance. There is plenteous research out today that indicates the direct impact on the bottom line of the organization through diversity and inclusion.
According to a research conducted by Forbes Insight, forty-nine percent of executives who were surveyed, strongly agree that diversity and inclusion is crucial for innovation as it encourages different perspectives and ideas. With the advent of millennial workforce in the organizations today, many organizations have already achieved diversity organically. However, there are a number of paradoxes that have made diversity and inclusion a tough topic to deal with.
Almost everyone today understands that diversity is all about the fairness issue that should become a norm. But in reality, we don’t see that in action.
For example, If everyone is aware of diversity and its importance, then why are men are more likely to hold leadership roles than women or other diverse groups? It seems like HR’s approach to diversity is severely suffering from the tunnel vision that started with a misunderstanding of what diversity is.
A very common practice across organizations is seen during recruitment when hiring managers put a post-it that says, “hire a minority” on any applications from minority candidates thinking it is okay to hire solely based on diversity. To truly have a diverse workforce, we should go back to square one asking ourselves, “what diversity is and how it goes hand in hand with the term inclusion?”
Real diversity is attained through teams which are made of diverse generations, cultures, genders, ethnicity, race, personalities, working styles, marital status, military status, education etc. While building teams if we solely focus on one characteristic, we are alienating other sets of our society. While re-structing teams, departments and organizations, one must ensure that they are eclectic in nature.
As many initiatives, these are as good as the tools provided to utilize them. Neither diversity is different, nor it is only HR’s problem or responsibility. If the team members of a team do not think and act alike, they are set for failures as they do not possess the knowledge and skill to work together cohesively. This is the crucial aspect of diversity and will take no time in putting one’s efforts in vain if not setup correctly.
The biggest paradox of diversity and inclusion is that we assume that diversity automatically results in inclusion. But evidence in organizations says otherwise. Just because we have people from diverse backgrounds in our workforce doesn’t mean that we are inclusive. While diversity is about numbers, inclusion is about an environment where everyone is accepted and valued for their differences. Both take effort.
If you are stuck on the starting point, here are some suggestive inclusion initiatives to take:
- Make baby boomers, gen Xers and millennials aware about what motivates each one and ways to communicate
- Speaking in terms of personality, make people aware of the importance of flexing for success
- Create initiatives to enable everyone to see the value of different perspectives as this will help them in respecting and understanding the value that others brings to the table
- Reverse mentoring is a great way to bring together your tenured employees and new hires
- Investing in everyone’s professional development, as much possible, is another great way to make everyone feel valued
We must stop thinking diversity in a vacuum if we really want to progress as an organization and provide equal opportunities to all. It is for the betterment of ourselves, our organizations and most of all, for our society.