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Whirling Chief

HR Management, Video

Nº 160

Forget Diversity, Are We Ready to Talk About Inclusion?

Good morning everyone!

Talking about a new taxonomy for leadership and people management practices, we are onto another taboo subject today: Diversity.

The definition of diversity is simple – it means having variety of a kind. The way the word is used in the industry we find, however, problematic. We say, for example, that we want diversity in the workplace. What does that mean exactly, though? Do we want different kinds of opinions in the system? Different looking people? People of different race, gender, and ethnicity to be present? Do we want different sexes?

What is it that we seek through ‘diversity’? And what happens if we have it all? What do we achieve from having so many kinds of people at work? Do we cherish having different opinions? Do we approach conversations and opportunities equally and fairly with those who look different than us? Do we show acceptance for people of different races, genders, and ethnicities than us? Do we make ‘friends’ with them? And what’s the benefit we look to have in the workplace as a result of these answers? Can you see the path of this logic?

The word ‘diversity’ is certainly more powerful when accompanied with ‘inclusion.’ However, it still does not approach the level of depth we may need to reach to overcome certain challenges in the changing global workforce. For years, in business, we have been talking about diversity as if having it in numbers would enable us to come closer together as species. It has proven untrue and not surprisingly so…

Here are a few simple facts on our changing demographics in the workplace:

  • Currently, the global workforce is made up of 51% women (49% for USA).
  • By 2030, 54% of new workers in the US will be people of color.
  • 10% of the world’s work population operates on disability.

The question remaining unanswered is: Do we find the numbers move the dial on our individual and collective experiences?

It certainly doesn’t seem so…

Aside from the recent movements (of #MeToo and #TimesUp) and a handful of organizational discoveries – thanks to a few courageous leaders and rising evidence based approach to people management, majority of companies are continuing to invest on the same approaches we’ve used since Industrial Revolution. We have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias, hiring tests, quotas, policies to increase selection.

It is time we acknowledge having numbers alone does NOT work. It is time we consider the term ‘diversity’ by definition being divisive. What do we mean?

Well, years of psychological studies would tell us when we introduce one group – any group – over another, it creates isolation for remaining groups. Isolation leads to reunification of ‘groups’ by design. Especially as we grow economically, socially and psychologically, we have more freedom to make choices. When isolated, we default to ‘fear’ mode and choose (pick) to group we feel most ‘safe’ with, whom usually are a lot similar to us. In other words, when we highlight diversity, we lead to more purification. Whether we like it or not diversity has to be managed and without inclusion, it is just a numbers game!

We need to evolve the conversation to so much more than just differences in opinion, looks, etc. We need connection, collaboration; we need to overcome our individual and group biases and increase our ability to embrace differences fully. And, yes, we need to take a step forward – an uncomfortable one for Corporate America – and love one another unconditionally.

That requires us to strip ourselves of our masks and meet at a level of humanity and acceptance.

All living beings – humans, in particular, as species – have equal right to dignity and respect.

“I accept who you are and what you bring as a valuable being to this world because we are all in one.”

That’s the level of acknowledgement we need to meet at. So, yes, we disagree with the way we have been interpreting the word ‘diversity’.

May we suggest next time you want to embrace diversity, consider things you can do to highlight similarities instead? Try starting on the basis of commonality and by building a sense of community. Remember we each preserve different values, we are pieces of a beautiful puzzle. Help us see and accept one another for what we are.

As one of my colleagues would say “There is only one way to inclusion, that’s inclusion!” Amen!!

Date

  • 22 January 2018

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