Culture is the soil in the forests we call organizations. The trees being planted are its associates. The first critical nutrient to that soil is inclusion.
Google the word inclusion. You’re sure to find lots of corporate links entitled “Diversity and Inclusion”. If you keep reading you’ll also find “Inclusion and Diversity”. The order may seem inconsequential, but order denotes relative importance. One makes you feel good. The other just makes you look good.
The Difference in D&I
Though they’re often linked, they are quite different. One is easy to spot, while the other is difficult and can get messy. Diversity is about the proportion of demographics around a table. Inclusion is about whether or not that diversity has a voice at the table.
“Diversity does not automatically lead to inclusion. Diversity gets more attention because there’s a formula – numbers to meet. Inclusion is not as easy to define, let alone measure and track.”– Glenn Llopis
Inclusion is a mindset
An inclusive minded company refuses to view associates as mindless automatons that must be directed. Instead, it switches to welcoming everyone’s individuality at all levels of the company. Your talents, your ideas, your background matter here.
“An inclusive organization is one that builds systems that actively enable people to (1) be and express whatever identity they authentically claim, and (2) at the same time, look for ways to elevate the individuality of others.”– Glenn Llopis
The key to Engagement
The phrase, bring your whole self to work used to puzzle me. Just as much as Employee Engagement (EE) did. EE often seems more like Employee Entertainment than anything else. For it to make sense for the company, EE must tie back to the achievement of strategic priorities. Inclusion helps employees be more accountable and engaged. As they’ve been entrusted with bringing their unique perspectives and skills to solve tough problems the result is engagement.
The companies that switch the order of the words to “I&D” have made the shift. They have progressed to viewing diversity as an expectation and not an achievement to be gained. They now focus on achieving ever increasing levels of inclusion.