Diversity Is Just Not Enough
How can females, black and brown people, or individuals from our LGBTQ community have a voice when they are constantly drowned out by the majority?
How can we appreciate the true spirit of increasing diversity without seriously including the voices of those who have been historically marginalized?
While diversity can create the potential for different voices and ideas, it is inclusion that allows those voices to be realized.
Many firms genuniely believe that demographic diversity is the be all end all. Demographic, or surface-level diversity, is indeed a fantastic start, but all firms should strive for a deeper understanding of what it takes to embrace those of us who are different. This is often referred to as deep-level diversity. As a diversity executive recruiting firm, we’ve seen companies with good intentions fail because their culture didn’t fully embrace demographic diversity.
After years of conversing with other diverse executives, we’ve learned that, while they have incredible jobs, many feel marginalized for their differences. In some cases, their only difference is the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their gender. More importantly, marginalization has a negative impact on productivity. And, while many diverse individuals feel constantly marginalized at work, their firms continue to celebrate their demographic diversity – claiming that xx% of its workforce is this or that – not knowing that they haven’t quite figured out how to fully embrace their own diversity initiatives in a meaningful way.
The cornerstone of any inclusive culture is trust. Everyone must feel safe enough to openly share the full breadth of their background, knowledge and opinions, both to each other and to their leaders.
And, the leaders must actively listen in order for inclusion to happen.
Without inclusion, diversity will not be sustainable. We achieve diversity through inclusion, not the other way around.