Diversity really extends beyond the inherent attributes like gender, age, and ethnicity. It mirrors our society and the attributes we can’t see with our naked eye, such as education, socio-economic background, nationality, job experience, religion, and sexual orientation, to name a few.
Inclusive organizations and workforces recognize and appreciate the value of our differences. Inclusion allows us to work together and be our authentic selves. And by being our own individual selves we can be comfortable, be more engaged, and be more productive.
Fostering diversity and inclusion comes hand in hand with equity.
When you intertwine diversity, inclusion, and equity, it's really about providing a sense of belonging for and engaging those around us.
Diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives have ebbed and flowed, come and gone. Some have made great impact, while some have faded away.
2020 has already brought issues of disparity and inequity front and center. This is the new norm and we must leverage this new norm to ensure there is a steady heartbeat for diversity and inclusion.
It’s really about the dialogues we are having. Engaging employees and colleagues to have those hard conversations about what’s going on — courageous conversations. Conversations about the injustice we are seeing in the world. Now, more than ever, we need to have those open, hard conversations about race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
When having those conversations, think about how can you have an impact for change in a positive way.
Organizations need to foster these open dialogues to demonstrate their commitment to equity and to really fight against injustice. Organizations need to take a sensitive and more mature approach and take a look at what is the dialogue. How do you craft the dialogue so people feel safe to express how they feel and to make a positive shift?
For example, we had a trigger last month (June 2020) with the civil unrest, but how do we move that forward for everlasting positive change?
Change can be challenging, but we want to make sure we're always making positive change. We have to take risks and be determined to drive the progress that we want to see, to inspire others, and to lead by example.
Imagine the future of diversity, engagement, and inclusion we can attain when it comes really easy to talk about it like we talk about the weather. Courageous conversations become simply conversations because we fully understand the impact people can have on society, on our businesses, and on us as individuals.
Allies are key for the transformation. We want to look ahead. We want to ask questions. We want to ask ourselves how can we continue to move the needle on creating a welcoming and inclusive experience for everyone.
A study done by Deloitte in 2013 showed that 61% of diverse employees reported covering in the workplace on a regular basis (diverse on the bases of gender, race, orientation, and age).
Covering in the workplace is a strategy where the individual manages to downplay their differences. It prevents the individual from facing rejection at work. Covering can come in many different forms:
• Appearance-based covering: Altering one's presentation — grooming, attire, and mannerisms — to blend into the mainstream.
• Affiliation-based covering: Avoiding behaviors generally associated with their identity to circumvent negative stereotypes.
• Advocacy-based covering: Being conscious of how one may "stick up for" their group. For example, a military veteran refraining from speaking up about a joke about the military.
• Association-based covering: Avoiding contact with other group members.
When we get engaged, it's for the long haul. No matter who you are, your diversity is truly leveraged when you are included and engaged. Engagements provide you with the power to speak up, access to be heard, opportunities to contribute, demand good and fair treatment, and the likelihood for better outcomes.
Engagement allows you to a sense of belonging. Belonging is a human need. The feeling that you belong and are important adds value to your life. And the feeling of belonging to a greater community improves your motivation, your health, and your happiness.
Organizations are becoming more multi-generational, therefore, they must make sure they are fostering diversity, inclusion, and engagement across generations, as well. Over the years, we will see generations fade away and others come in. When you take a look across generations, you might say that you understand this about one generation and that about another. However, these are biases that we have to not feed into and eliminate.
Organizations have done this by focusing on the individual strengths rather than the generational differences. One way to leverage these strengths is through reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring brings older and younger generations together to allow them to learn from each others' viewpoints. These are benefit programs that benefit not just the mentee but also the mentor.