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Employee Experience

The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion

July 22, 2020
6 min read
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Diversity in the workplace is more than a quota. There is definitive value in demonstrating a commitment to hiring diverse candidates, actively hiring underrepresented groups, and providing a seat at the table for those groups — but simply offering positions to a diverse selection of individuals doesn’t necessarily mean an organization’s diversity program is successful. 

Statistics help employers understand where they are lacking in diversity, but the concept of inclusion is much more difficult to measure yet more important to obtain. 

Diversity and inclusion are often used synonymously, but that's a common misconception. For example, diversity invites people to the party, inclusion requires their favorite snacks and songs to be included, and equity asks them to be a part of the party planning committee so that they can feel like the party is also for them.

Aside from the obvious, why does this matter, and why is it beneficial for organizations to take up diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of their mission?

Diversity in the workforce has been shown to be a fantastic boon to business—one that is hard to ignore in such a competitive environment.

Diversity makes businesses better. And not just diversity of thought, but actual diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, life experience, age, and disability. Each piece of the diversity puzzle can contribute to the ultimate fabric and overall success of the business.

What is #DiversityEquityInclusion and how do they differ from each other? Find out more about #DEI and how to do it better in the latest from @ClearCompany:

More equitable job descriptions, equal pay for men and women, blind interviews, and adding underrepresented groups to hiring panels are all helping increase diversity within companies and providing opportunities that didn’t exist before.

However, simply implementing diversity initiatives isn’t enough, no matter how well-intentioned. In order for diversity hiring initiatives to reach their full potential, companies and their people must implement more inclusionary programs.

Here are a few steps to move your diversity hiring initiatives into inclusivity mandates for your organization:

1. Take Diversity Past the Sourcing Stage

Sourcing initiatives meant to bolster diversity hiring initiatives do little to no good if your hiring managers aren’t on board. If you’ve implemented a diversity hiring program and you do not see results, take time to check your hiring managers’ and recruiting leads’ interview-to-hire ratio and ensure you have all the right data to do so.

Moreover, recruiting diverse candidates is not the sole responsibility of the recruiting department. Culture is critical to hiring processes, and culture is a collective effort. Encourage all employees to refer friends — particularly those from underrepresented groups. It’s difficult to recruit diverse candidates when the current workforce isn’t diverse, so cultural changes that value, promote, and reward attitudes toward diversity and inclusion are important pieces to the recruitment puzzle.

How can you implement this? Take a survey. What’s the current culture like? Where is there room for improvement? How do your employees feel that is best achieved? Listen to your employees and take actions based on real feedback to build change from within rather than trying to bring people in to try and find solutions before you know the problem.

2. Build An Equitable Playing Field

Diversity hiring tactics only go so far. Once employers have added more diversity to their teams, it’s important that those hires have the same access to the same resources as their counterparts who have always had such access. You need to build an equitable playing field that supports these folks once they’re ensconced in your company.

Equitable workplaces understand that not every individual enters with equal status, but provides equal access and fairness to everyone once they arrive. It is the role of the employer to provide the aid necessary for every employee to be able to do their best work through various forms of support. 

3. Train Your Employees

As the department typically tasked with diversity and inclusion efforts, it’s your job to ensure employees get the training they need to make your people an even closer representation of the audience your organization serves. Ideas to train your employees? Try engaging a speaker or trainer who specializes in this area. Select a curriculum to get everyone on the same page. Or run a series of workshops or roundtables to create safe places to ask about these topics. After all, it’s your job to help everyone feel welcome at your company.

How do you make a meaningful #DEI program for your organization? @ClearCompany explains the difference between #diversity and #inclusion and how the two work together for a more equitable workplace.

4. Expand Your Talent Pool

Words matter. You can greatly open up your talent pool by doing the following:

  • Run your jobs through software programs built to remove sexist and otherwise exclusionary or discouraging language.
  • Put inclusive language in your company signatures, and link it to your policy regarding safe spaces for employees. For example, referring to your preferred pronouns in your email signature can signal to the LGBTQ+ community that inclusivity is a way of life at your organization.
  • How many languages do you hire in? Contrast that with how many positions you have open and the languages that exist within your company. Do you need to offer more options? Ensure your job postings and recruitment efforts reach the broadest audience possible.

5. Update Your Language

For many leaders, words that used to be acceptable in the work environment are no longer suitable. Ensure your executives understand the importance of what they say and the terminology they use. While most leaders know not to use racist, sexist, or homophobic language, some leaders aren’t aware of microaggressions or previously common terms which we understand today to be exclusionary towards marginalized and underrepresented groups. 

Common examples of these more nuanced terms include referring to employees or clients as “crazy,” using “girl” when speaking about a woman, or addressing a room with “you guys” instead of a more inclusive term like “folks”, “y’all”, or simply “everyone.” Even a few years ago, these words were generally accepted, while today they can pose a risk to a healthy, inclusive environment.

6. Build Diverse Groups

Including underrepresented groups by building leadership and advisory committees is a good place to start so that their voices can be heard and spotlighted, but labeling them as a “female leadership group” or “Black advisory board” can make it seem different than other leadership forums and reinforce gender and race, rather than making them an integral part of the company. Doing so can further perpetuate the “otherism” of their groups. 

Start making groups gender and race independent. Instead, focus on building intentional groups with a diverse makeup. This means going out of your way to find the right balance between representation and excellence.

Diversity and inclusion are not synonyms — and shouldn’t be treated as such — but they do go hand-in-hand. While companies looking to make a real change have a long road ahead of them, fortunately, organizations can start at the very beginning of the employee lifecycle (sourcing and recruiting), or you can invest in training and curriculum within your organization to prep your team on how to become an inclusive company.

Do you know if your employees feel your organization is diverse and inclusive? Find out with ClearCompany Employee Engagement Surveys. Schedule a free demo with ClearCompany experts to learn more about how you can use our surveys to find out how your employees feel about your diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

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