People often use the words diversity and inclusion as if they mean the same thing, but they don’t. While these terms are closely related, they are very different. Diversity is a necessary condition for inclusion, but it is not sufficient. A business can be diverse without being inclusive, but it cannot be inclusive unless it is diverse. Inclusive companies are the ones most likely to thrive — today and into the future.
The Field Guide to Allyship in the Workplace
Are you and your team ready to become stronger allies?
Diversity vs. Inclusion
Diversity is about differences. In the context of a workplace, it refers to the differences that exist among employees. These differences are referred to as dimensions of diversity. They include protected characteristics, along with many additional types of differences that can impact how people are viewed and treated at work, such as communication patterns, learning style, socioeconomic background, and many others.
Inclusion refers to creating a work environment where all people are truly welcomed, valued and respected — for all of who they are — regardless of differences. Inclusion isn’t the same as tolerance. It’s not about putting up with people who are different, but rather is about full acceptance. In an inclusive environment, people won’t feel that they need to hide part of their true self in order to truly belong. When employees feel a true sense of belonging, and they’re able to bring their whole selves to work, they’re more likely to bring more to the work they’re producing, and feel more fulfilled in the process — which benefits everyone involved.
Inclusion isn’t the same as tolerance. It’s not about putting up with people who are different, but rather is about full acceptance.
An inclusive workplace should also be an equitable one. When it comes to differences, the only differences that should be considered are the inequities that exist for employees in the company. In order for a company to be truly inclusive, it’s also important that the inequities are identified and addressed to ensure an equitable workplace for everyone.
Inclusion Is Not Optional
Cultivating an inclusive culture is just as important to your company’s success as it is to produce products or provide services that effectively meet customer needs. It’s as essential to business operations as having a business license. Companies that don’t effectively emphasize workplace inclusion can experience many negative business outcomes.
- If your company values and employer brand don’t emphasize inclusion, you’ll have a hard time attracting and keeping talent. People won’t join or will leave if they don’t feel included.
- Team building requires trust, which isn’t likely to be present in an exclusive culture. It’s impossible to build a truly cohesive team in a work environment that lacks inclusiveness.
- Innovation is key to success in the ever-changing business environment. What better way to innovate than through the creativity and ideas unleashed by true inclusion?
- A workplace climate characterized by diversity contributes to higher levels of employee satisfaction and commitment to the organization, according to a Catalyst.org study.
- The Catalyst study also reveals that organizations that lack inclusion tend to have more occurrences of discrimination, harassment, and aggressive behavior than others.
Organizations that lack inclusion tend to have more occurrences of discrimination, harassment, and aggressive behavior than others.
Building an inclusive culture requires more than just a policy statement. Each member of an organization — from leaders at the highest level to the most junior team members — plays a role in determining whether the culture is truly inclusive or not. There are many strategies designed to create a more inclusive workplace.
- Implement employee resource groups (ERG) to foster inclusion and impact the company.
- Incorporate ERGs into professional development at your company.
- Identify ways to increase workplace flexibility to better meet work-life balance needs.
- As part of onboarding, assign new hires to peer mentors who provide support as the new team members navigate their entry into the organization.
- Adopt programs focused on meeting the needs of all employees, such as ensuring your workplace is veteran-friendly, family-friendly, and meets the needs of women.
- Don’t tolerate exclusive behaviors such as bullying or hostile environment harassment.
Setting an Example
At Justworks, we’re committed to creating a work environment characterized by diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We’re doing the hard work to be increasingly more inclusive and equitable, and we encourage you to do the same. Cultivating diversity and inclusion matters at Justworks, but it should matter everywhere. And while we’ve made progress, the work is ongoing and we still have a long way to go.
- We emphasize diversity and inclusion. We have built a great culture and hire to keep it, designing the process to identify candidates who are good fits for the culture and values.
- Not only do we have ERGs, but we’ve also committed to compensating ERG leads to ensure their efforts are appropriately recognized and rewarded.
- Through our MWBE Directory, we aim to help increase the reach and visibility of MWBE customers, as well as encourage people to take a closer look at the diversity of their supply chain and the vendors they work with.
- We take a stand on important issues, such as Black Lives Matter and empowering employees to register and exercise their right to vote.
Building an inclusive culture is the right thing to do, and it will help you build a thriving company and gain competitive advantage.
Inclusion Is Good for Business
Ultimately, in the long run, doing what is right and just is good for business. Building an inclusive culture is the right thing to do, and it will help you build a thriving company and gain competitive advantage. Inclusive business practices can positively impact many critical key performance indicators, including productivity, employee retention, morale, and the bottom line. Inclusion is a necessary ingredient in building a successful company. That’s what it really means for business.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.