Inviting and asking people to dance: Diversity and inclusion at work

Leadership Memo 2021-5

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “diversity and inclusion”? Do you think that it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo? Are you annoyed that you have more boxes to tick? Do you think that “diversity” and “inclusion” are the same thing? Let’s explore what diversity is, and how it relates to inclusion.

Diversity is nothing more than representation. It is inviting people different from you to the table. So, what are the differences? Some self-evident ones include race, gender, and age. But don’t forget, we are also different in personalities, physical abilities, the way we see the world, the way we process information, etc. 

“Diversity is being invited to the party…” – Verna Myers

Leaders have long recognized that a diverse workforce gives a competitive edge. Diversity is also easy to measure. It’s a simple matter of headcount. Yet businesses are not seeing the growth and innovation that diversity is rumoured to bring. Why is that? It is because diversity is more than simple tolerance. We need to learn to respect and value each individual despite the differences. We also need to learn to appreciate what makes them different. That’s empowering. That’s also where inclusion comes in. Inclusion is crucial to attract diverse talent, encourage participation, and foster innovation. It also allows for the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is only then that we can unleash the power of diversity and reap its benefits.

“… Inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Verna Myers

We already discussed inclusion in last month’s Leadership Memo, so please take a look if you need a review.

Last month, I suggested 3 things a leader can do to help create this inclusive culture. When inclusive leaders do those 3 things, the following 6 behaviours are on display. They:

  1. Ensure that team members speak up and are heard
  2. Make it safe to propose novel ideas
  3. Empower team members to make decisions
  4. Take advice and implement feedback
  5. Give actionable feedback
  6. Share credit for team success. 

“Diversity without inclusion is a story of missed opportunities, of employees so used to being overlooked that they no longer share ideas and insights. But diversity with inclusion provides a potent mix of talent retention and engagement.” – Harvard Business Review.

Do you have any experiences with diversity and inclusion, or lack thereof? What are they like? Share with me in the comments below. I love to hear from you.

Latest happenings:

  1. If you want to know what inclusion really means, especially in a work environment, whether remote or not, come to my latest workshop on 31 May: “How to ask people to dance, creating better spaces to be more inclusive at work”. We’ll explore some common considerations that people fail to realise, even after a year of working from home during this pandemic. We’ll also learn what we can do to make people feel welcomed, accepted, respected, and valued. In the end, people feel empowered to contribute their own perspective and understanding without the fear of rejection and humiliation. Register here.

2. Do you know there is a new podcast episode on my website? Go check it out!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: