Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is one of the hottest trending topics in learning and organizational development today. A major issue with the existing development, however, is it presents D&I as a blended concept (Sherbin & Rashid, 2017). This contributes to incorrect assumptions that these independent ideas are one in the same. Researchers suggest this reinforced discrepancy in understanding is preventing inclusionary efforts from being carried out, which further indicates current practices are inconclusive and potentially ineffective.
With countless companies, organizations, and institutions claiming to embrace and implement successful D&I strategies, it may be hard to fathom inclusivity is still a work in progress (Riordan, 2014). To ensure current D&I programs are effective in real-world settings, we need to first differentiate between the two concepts and clarify misconceptions. By taking this first step, we can collectively move forward from having D&I conversations to implementing effective D&I initiatives.
Myers (2012) noted the distinction between diversity and inclusion lies in the difference between quantity and quality. Organizational leaders can highlight this difference to ensure the organization has a comprehensive D&I program that includes an action plan specifically for inclusivity. AT EDC, we subscribe to the starting points recommended by Sherbin and Rashid (2017):
- Inclusive Leadership
- Networking & Visibility
- Clear Career Path
Leaders can use these strategic pathways to promote inclusivity, provide transparency and sponsorship, and unlock career paths (Sherbin & Rashid, 2017). The D&I research on practical applications of D&I initiatives and programs also shows reframing of the organizational approach provides more positive program results. According to the Harvard Business Review (2016), organizations with successful D&I programs offer voluntary training, include diversity managers and task forces or self-management groups, incorporate cross-training groups and targeted college recruitment programs, and supply opportunities for mentorship. Adopting these strategic approaches could be the key to guaranteeing diversity efforts in the workplace are reinforced by inclusion.
Myers, V. (2012). Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance [Online version]. GPSolo eReport, 1(11). Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/ publications/gpsolo_ereport/2012/june_2012/diversity_invited_party_inclusion_asked_dance.html
Riordan, C. M. (2014, June 5). Diversity is useless without inclusion. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/06/diversity-is-useless-without-inclusivity
Sherbin, L. & Rashid, R. (2017, February 1). Diversity doesn’t stick without inclusion. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/02/diversity-doesnt-stick-without-inclusion
Harvard Business Review. (2016, September 1). Why the most common diversity programs don’t work [Video file]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/video/5108682441001/why-the-most-common-diversity-programs-dont-work