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#InsightsIn5: Diversity & Inclusion is an IMPERATIVE (NOT just a nice to have!)

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Diversity is about having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice. This strategic imperative has become a huge priority and undertaking within many organizations, and quite rightly so.

The initiative to create a more diverse work setting has created positions for diversity and inclusion, diverse work groups, and changes in hiring procedures and work environments.

Over the last few years there has been growth in diversity within many organizations. Woman hold slightly more positions in leadership, there has been an uptick of hiring of minorities, especially African American women, and most major organizations show their support of the LGBTQ community yearly by changing their logos during PRIDE month and committing to a culture that exudes diversity and represents all. This is only half the battle.

“Having a seat at the table is good start but having your voice heard is even better. When diversity and inclusion are married it creates a sense of place, purpose, value, and a sense of belonging.”

It's easy to measure the diversity of an organization by headcount, but how do you measure inclusion? Many organizations believe that if they hire X number of minorities then they have filled their quota which qualifies them as a diverse entity, and even those numbers can be skewed if minorities are not represented in upper management. But how does the organization measure the inclusion of the diverse workforce?

“As a minority woman in leadership there have often been times when I was either the only woman and/or the only person of color in the room. How many non-ethnic people can relate to this?”

Often, I wondered to myself how uncomfortable, or comfortable others around me were. I’ve questioned how authentic I could be, monitored my words, and held back on my opinions as to not ripple the waters. I simply did not totally feel included at times. I was however successful, people liked me, but I did not feel fully represented. This was diversity without inclusion. I was not afforded the opportunity to speak from a place of my economic, geographic, or ethnic background to bring forth a voice to the team, and the company.

My experiences were not parallel of that to my peers, we did not attend the same schools, go to the same churches, and outside of work we would probably never cross paths. All my experiences, good and bad, was the woman that stood before them, the person that truly represented me, but instead I brought my personal representation to work daily - a mere portion of who I really was. This happens daily in diverse atmospheres that lack the ability to be inclusive. Where there is no self-check of inclusion and no outside system put into place to monitor the bias of the organization from within.

“Just as auditing diversity hires and practices within and organization is important, auditing inclusion is most important to maintain the integrity and consistency of an organization and its true commitment to inclusion.”

As a diversity and inclusion consultant with 4xi Global Consulting, we provide an unbiased look at the both the measures of diversity as well as the practices of inclusion. Our approach begins with honest conversations about diversity and inclusion, following through on those conversations to facilitate cultural change that aligns with the growth of the organization, tolerant cultures, and inclusive environments.

We provide a total assessment of the organization with comprehensive feedback and we work with leadership to map out a consistent measure of both diversity and inclusion to ensure that the growth is consistent, and the change is meaningful. Not just checking the boxes but a real roadmap to change.

Being diverse is the beginning of the journey and creating an environment where all feel included is passing the baton to win the race.

"There is higher retention, more tolerance, and collective buy-in when everyone feels included. When you have both a diverse and inclusive organization, you invest not only in your company but most importantly in the people who run it."

Think of diversity and inclusion as the physical health of your organization. In order to maintain your physical health, you must maintain good exercise practices, you must commit to annual check-ups and if medication is needed you must take it at the recommendation of your physician.

Every organization needs to have a third party unbiased opinion of their overall diversity and inclusion health. Each organization is different and therefore the diagnoses as well as the prescribed programming will vary.

4xi Consulting has a diverse consulting team that can give any organization a great diversity and inclusion check-up, as well as work with leadership to prescribe a tailormade curriculum conducive to the growth of the organization. With a variety of expertise under our umbrella, training and/or coaching does not have to be ritualistic and mundane, but can be innovative and creative giving all parties a safe and comfortable place to express their views and ideas.

"The overall growth of any organization depends on the vitality and engagement of those who lead the way and most importantly those who have boots on the ground. Just as you require a check-up so does the diversity and inclusion of your organization."

Article thanks to Latoya Golliday.

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