Hi everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic morning, afternoon, or evening from wherever you are reading this blog! My name is Rizwan Tahmeed, a Grade 12 student at Woburn Collegiate Institute. Today’s blog will shine a light and explore the theme of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). With that being said, let’s dive into it!
What is Diversity and Inclusion and The Types
Diversity, by definition, is the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders. When we talk about diversity, we often focus on one particular lens, but there are four scopes or areas we must aim to represent in the workforce. These four are Internal, External, Organizational, and Worldview Diversity. Each of these scopes focuses on different dimensions of diversity, which are as follows:
1. Internal: This scope relates to aspects or circumstances the person is born into and are impossible to change. Some examples include race, ethnicity, age, cultural identity, gender identity, physical ability, and mental ability.
2. External: This scope refers to characteristics, aspects, or circumstances related to the person, but not what he or she was born into. These are aspects that can be changed over time and are influenced by a person’s surroundings. Some examples are personal interest, education, citizenship, life experiences, and religious beliefs.
3. Organizational: This scope refers to the differences between people that are assigned to them by an organization. In other words, it is what the organization uses to distinguish employees. When we refer to an organization for this scope, it means anything where there is a minimum of two people working regardless if it is a non-profit, for-profit, private, public, or government organization. Some examples are employment status, management status, function, and union affiliation.
4. Worldview: This scope refers to how someone perceives the world. This one is a combination of the three aforementioned types and changes over time. Some examples include political beliefs, outlook on life, and moral compass.
Inclusion, on the flip side, is giving equal access and opportunities to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, medical, and other needs. It also means removing barriers to get rid of discrimination and intolerance. Inclusivity aims to create spaces that everyone can use and communicate with each other. In essence, it means avoiding separation or a physical environment that creates a sense of disconnection instead of connection. In terms of leadership, it means actively seeking other different views and perspectives to make an informed decision. Someone who demonstrates this embodies numerous traits; some examples are fairness, respect, trust, empowerment, and intelligence.
Importance and Impact
Now we know what it is, but why is it crucial in the workforce? Well, let’s imagine a situation where you are the human resource manager for a company and it has been brought to your attention that one policy is causing a disruptive issue for the employees, and you have to change it. Do you ask a specific department or race for their opinion or several departments and ethnicities? Research shows that companies with diverse teams and groups can create popular products and profits compared to less diverse companies. In addition, teams that are made up of diverse employees who have unique skills are more likely to assist companies to outperform other companies.
Furthermore, D&I represents an opportunity for growth for companies and businesses. Incorporating and implementing systems or strategies that represent diversity enhances the problem-solving and decision-making process. Also, it allows companies to create an agile, inclusive, and productive environment and attract high-value, diverse employees. Moreover, having numerous perspectives helps companies identify consumer behavior and demand from multiple viewpoints and areas instead of a singular sample.
As mentioned before, setting diversity and inclusion as one of the guiding principles allows companies to increase profitability and outperform competitors. In addition to that, it also leads to innovation. Each employee offers different skills, strengths, and life experiences from various backgrounds, which means each one looks at a particular issue through a different lens. Who knows, maybe that perspective may give a breakthrough to your issue or problem. Furthermore, customers respond to diverse companies, especially minorities, and improves brand image since it shows to them that a company is in touch with their various customers and forward-thinking. In the end, diversity and inclusion can bring numerous benefits to your company, but you decide to either lose or take advantage of the impact of D&I.
How Can Companies Incorporate It?
Now we know the impact and importance, but how can we or business leaders incorporate it? As stated before, you decide to either lose or take advantage of the impact D&I can have on your company. There are numerous methods that companies can take; the possibilities are endless. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
1. Revamping Hiring Practices: This method entails evaluating and reorganizing the hiring process for new talent or employees. Instead of looking at the content of an answer, maybe focus on the quality and how it is different from other answers. Also, implementing a practical component in the interview is another great method to see if there are people who offer different perspectives.
2. Policies: This method entails altering and changing policies to reflect the diversity and promoting an inclusive, fair, respectable, and equal environment within the company itself.
3. Altering the physical environment: The physical environment plays a large role in the atmosphere and mood of the workforce. Removing any object that represents separation and isolation and replacing it with open areas where there are clear lines of communication and collaboration can promote D&I.