The word diversity is on everyone’s lips and is on the radar of all organizations. The global impact of social events like the deaths of George Floyd and Joyce Echaquan has sparked a collective awakening, prompting organizations to reflect on questions of diversity. However, we often forget that diversity does not necessarily mean inclusion.
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually represent two different concepts. A diverse organization refers to an organization composed of a diversity of people, whereas an inclusive organization is one in which this diversity of people feels valued, respected, and fulfilled. It is an organization that implements programs, services, and products that cater to a wide range of individuals and constantly strives to retain, develop, and unlock the potential of its diverse workforce.
Diversity is the “who,” while inclusion is the “how.” Diversity focuses on the composition of the workforce, and inclusion measures the culture that enables diversity to thrive. For example, the presence of women in companies is important and a company may have a majority of women in its ranks at times, but this is not enough if wage inequality persists. This is exemplified by the wage gap between male and female players in Soccer Canada, which remains a significant issue despite the presence of women in the organization.
Creating an inclusive organization requires more than just highlighting a group of employees during a specific day or dedicated month, as may be the case on International Women’s Day or Black History Month. While this may help to highlight the work and presence of women in the organization, it is not enough to address persistent wage inequalities, for example. To emphasize the importance of continuous and daily action, an English couple created a Twitter account that publishes the wage disparities of companies that tweet on that day.
It is important to note that diversity and inclusion are not just concepts or values, but rather a constantly evolving culture. To achieve this, it is crucial to engage in a process of learning and self-reflection, while implementing inclusive governance practices at all levels of the organization. This may include adopting a fair wage policy, implementing procedures to address discriminatory behavior or comments, as well as implementing inclusive recruitment practices.
Diversity is an essential first step towards creating an inclusive organization, but it should not be the only step. It is a continuous process that requires long-term commitment to create inclusion in all of the organization’s practices. Adopting this approach will not only improve employee retention but also strengthen the sense of belonging within the organization.