The terms diversity, equity, and inclusion are often used interchangeably but are, in fact, distinct concepts, each with their own set of concerns. To understand the definitions of these terms and the various ways in which they interact, think of the actionable application of each, then establish practical strategies and clear goals to invest in all three – with equity among the team as the goal.
Diversity among your team is crucial; it comprises how people differ, or one group of individuals differs from another group. A person’s identity can be diverse in a variety of ways: race, ethnicity, language, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, socioeconomic status, and disability. This definition also includes diversity of thoughts, values, and perspectives, and it is important to recognize that every person simultaneously associates with multiple identities.
Inclusion in Relation to Diversity
Remember that diversity only exists in relation to others – an individual may add diversity to your team, but they are not in and of themselves diverse. Often diversity is used as a pretense. An employer might say they endeavor to diversify their team, but what they mean is that they want to include more women, millennials, people of color, or Spanish-speaking individuals. It is essential to avoid using diversity as a catchall as it prevents the specificity required for setting and attaining goals.
Inclusion is defined as the process of constructing an environment in which people with different identities feel acknowledged, respected, encouraged to participate, and valued for their unique perspectives. Diversity does not necessarily equate with inclusivity, however, and many teams are diverse without being inclusive. Where diversity is focused on making space for individuals of marginalized groups, inclusion is dedicated to understanding the experiences these individuals have, the barriers they face, and how they are included as active participants.
The Power of Equity in the Workplace
Equity, the real goal for groups in the workplace and beyond, is the practice of ensuring fair treatment, opportunities, and access for all people. An essential component of equity is the acknowledgment that certain advantages and barriers exist and that these barriers have prevented certain groups from involvement and advancement in many areas. Improving equity requires acknowledgement of the inequities people face and actively working to redress that imbalance. In some organizations, this may require leadership to look deeply at their personal values and fine-tune their communication and conflict resolution skills.
Especially within the employment arena, equity is undoubtedly lacking for certain groups. Systemic racism is a reality experienced by people every day. For candidates pursuing a position, this can begin before they even make it to an interview. One study found that when submitting almost identical resumes, the applicants with “white-sounding” names received fifty percent more callbacks than those with “black-sounding” names. This difference equates to eight years of experience.
Embrace a More Equitable Workplace
Many organizations recognize that more work must be done. But what does equity in the workplace look like?
- Prioritize diverse, inclusive hiring committees.
- Employ blind application processes, meaning names and educational institutions are removed when resumes are under consideration.
- Utilize the same standards for all employees when conducting performance reviews and awarding promotions.
- Ensure equal access to mentoring programs.
- Conduct exit interviews with employees to record valuable data that can be used to improve workplace culture in the future.
When considering diversity and inclusion practices and working towards the fundamental goal of equity, human resource departments are the first place to evaluate. To make sure your organization avoids the dangerous pitfalls preventing qualified applicants from getting a chance to succeed, considering how partnering with an expert will help you achieve your goals. At MindSpring Metro DC, we provide customized, interactive diversity and inclusion programs specifically tailored to your needs and can make a valuable impact on your workplace culture.