Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is an important subtopic of ‘gender across cultures.’ This topic draws a line between diversity, inclusion, and equality. These terms are often used interchangeably for each other; however, the reality is slightly different. Moreover, the topic also highlights the importance of inclusion and diversity.

image: cio.com

Equality vs. Diversity vs. Inclusion

Equality refers to providing equal opportunities to everyone and protecting people from discrimination. The major focus of equality is to act against discrimination and eradicate the notions of superiority and inferiority in society. However, equality does not ensure equality of outcomes.

Diversity refers to recognizing, respecting, and valuing differences in people. Diversity propagates the idea of acceptance of differences. Demeaning someone on the basis of gender, race, or religion is something against the idea of diversity. Diversity is further divided into two categories; looking at diversity through one’s identity and looking at diversity through a cognitive lens. The former is defined as ‘who we are’ and ‘where are we from.’ On the other hand, cognitive diversity refers to having diverse perspectives and thinking.

Inclusion refers to an individual’s experience within his/her work in society and the extent to which he/she feels included and valued. This aspect is defined as what actions are taken to make someone feel valued and included. Inclusion is further classified as feeling empowered, engaged, and enabled. That is, you feel that your voices are being heard and your ideas are being shared.

Diverse Workplaces

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Diverse workplaces are referred to as workplaces composed of employees with different characteristics. These include, but are not limited to, religious beliefs, political beliefs, gender, ethnicity, race, socio-economic background, and sexual orientation. Inclusion is defined as appreciating and respecting the differences that make up a workplace.

History of Diversity- Diversity, and Inclusion

In the early 1980s, diversity was defined as the changes in demographic characteristics of the labor force and workplace. This was specifically in regard to race, ethnicity, and gender. It was predicted that the future workforce will consist of people from varied demographic characteristics and this was communicated through the word ‘diversity.’

However, today, diversity now includes characteristics such as education, socio-economic background, language, geographic background, and value system.

Representational Diversity

image: tufts university

Representational diversity refers to the process of bringing people into the workforce different from the current hiring. This was supported in early diversity work. However, the loophole was evident in quite a short time. Practitioners and researchers realized that hiring ethnic minorities and women seldom contributed to the progress and often left their jobs in a very short period of time. This brought about the whim that merely hiring people from underrepresented groups is not enough to maintain diversity or make it a success.

Laws for Diversity

Given the process of diversity, many laws were formulated and established to promise a secure and diverse work environment. The first one is named ‘Equal Employment opportunity.’ This came into being in the 1960s in the civil rights era. This act stated that everyone has an equal chance of being hired or employed without the fear of discrimination on any basis. Another act was named the ‘affirmative act.’ This act meant that an employer can conduct various kinds of outreach to find and attract qualified job applicants from underrepresented groups.

What is the difference between both acts? The EEO act is a passive one, that is, an employer cannot discriminate unfairly. While the AA act is an active one, that is, the employer will act proactively in order to attract qualified employees regardless of personal characteristics.

Managing Diversity

Managing diversity is concerned with how organizations design and implement processes in order to make the differences an asset and source of strength to the business. Diversity management specifically refers to planned and systematic programs and procedures designed to improve interactions among diverse people and to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in an organization. 

Valuing Diversity

Valuing diversity is part of the process of inclusion. Valuing diversity refers to activities and procedures intended to highlight one’s uniqueness in a positive way. An example of this is giving attention to people’s religious holidays and respecting them such as Christmas or eid.

Why is Diversity Important?

Given the massive changes in work, it is very important to include people from diverse backgrounds. Globalization has taken on a rise, world markets are closely connected to one another. Outsourcing and offshoring are common. Industries have rapidly shifted from production to the services sector. To provide services one must know their customers better to be able to communicate effectively. All these reasons call for greater inclusion of people from different countries and cultures in order to reach out to the global markets.

Let’s discuss the importance of Diversity and Inclusion given the massive structural changes in workplaces and global markets.

‘None of us is as good as all of us’

This is McDonald’s corporate motto. This implies the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It highlights that every distinct culture and identity makes them what they are. Each distinct identity builds on to make one culture and a distinct identity.

How value is created for both men and women?

Gather Data

This is the first step to identifying how diverse and distinct an organization’s workplace is. This step is more fact-based and statistical. Does it identify what percentages of women are working in an organization? What percentages of women are present at each level of an organization? What is the turnover rate for both men and women? If the percentage of women present at upper levels is lower/greater than that to men, what is the reason?

These are a few questions that basically interpret the level of diversity and inclusion in an organization. This is based more on quantitative data and statistical figures.

Present the issue of D&I as a business opportunity

Globalization and global expansion class for greater diversity must be used as a business opportunity. It is an opportunity to bring a positive change in an organization by nurturing vast talents and creative opportunities.

Measure the level of Engagement

This is related to the concept of inclusion. That is, instilling actions and processes that advocate valuing diversity and making others feel important. Do employees feel valued? Does the company accommodate and appreciate the diversity of both men and women on each level?

This at times is the duty of the HR department to heighten the sense of belonging among the employees of an organization.

Understand the causes of Disengagement and Turnover

It is very important to be self-aware; one must know their weaknesses and strengths to move on better in life. Similarly, an organization must know why and where a problem lies. They also must understand the root causes of the problem to persist. People leaving jobs or not being motivated enough might be a consequence of a serious problem in an organization. If more women are leaving than men or vice versa, the reason must be explored. In order to explore the reason, one must know the issue in depth. Is the business consciously or subconsciously giving a masculine preference?

Provide awareness Training

Awareness training is given to the leader and managers in order to establish and propagate inclusion and diversity. Awareness training highlights why the inclusion of both men and women in the workplace is important and beneficial for an organization. The awareness training for leaders and managers highlights that an organization must focus on building on masculine and feminine qualities and strengths not men and women as two distinct genders. The latter instills a sense of stereotyping within an organization by provoking gender divisions.

Use Awareness of Masculine and Feminine differences

Masculine and feminine qualities tend to differ from each other. Using their awareness of them, managers and leaders can build on women to speak up and encourage them to take up more challenging roles and tasks. On the other hand, managers and leaders can advise men to be polite and kind towards their colleagues while respecting them.

Hold people Accountable

Holding people accountable for the people who propagate discrimination and unfair dismissal on the basis of gender, race, and religion is very important to ensure an inclusive environment. On the other hand, inclusive and respectful behavior must be appreciated and set as an example.

Measure and Celebrate Progress

Comparing standards goals and past performance with outcomes implies what level of success an organization is on during the process of inclusion and diversity. Are women and men feeling important? Are women and men equally making it to the top of an organization? Is retention improving?

These are the ways through which one can judge whether an organization advocates for diversity and inclusion. Moreover, supporting the idea of gender and inclusion is not enough’ implementation, execution, and analysis are equally significant aspects of gender diversity and inclusion.

Also Read: Gender across Cultures https://scientips.com/184/gender-across-cultures/

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