Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has to be one of the biggest corporate initiatives of the past decade. With so many social causes around D&I finally taking centre stage in our media, legal systems and political systems, the business world has made some gains in putting D&I on their agendas.
We’ve seen the introduction of policies, D&I champions within businesses, and recruitment quotas and statements that tell the world “we’ll welcome everyone and be nice to people who are considered to be from a ‘diverse’ group”.
So while most business are making well-meaning efforts, unfortunately it’s not enough to make D&I a way to describe HOW they do business. That’s right – it’s a way of doing business. It’s a way to provide greater service to your clients, attract and retain the best people, and gain a competitive advantage…..all good ingredients for a healthy bottom line.
While many business have great intentions for D&I, it’s often a short lived initiative that get’s a launch, a short term budget (usually for events), and a group of people who are charged with making ‘diverse’ people feel included. I’m here to tell you that any D&I ‘initiative’ in itself is going to be short-lived. D&I needs to consider all employees, their experiences, values, perspectives, as well as their strengths and challenges. Employees at all levels need to have the emotional intelligence to clearly articulate and appreciate these elements of each person in the team and what drives their reactions to their environments/experiences, to truly embrace the diversity in the group. With many diverse ways of thought and experience, comes a challenge to bring groups to consensus so strategies to support communication in project and group work is going to be imperative.
When D&I is done right, it’s seemingly not done at all…it’s a living breathing natural cultural way of working together. But there’s a road organisations have to take to get there. D&I is so much more than just a HR policy and a morning tea….much much more. D&I deserves a place in strategic planning, budgets and long term forecasts, in CEO’s KPI’s, in values based appraisal systems and in measurable meaningful business performance reporting. It deserves accountability, a commitment to alignment, and a way of working together for EVERYONE…..not just people with a ‘diversity’ label.
My motto: Great minds don’t think alike…..and that’s positive! So let’s embrace it
Cindy Corrie: Parent to a child on the autism spectrum, advocate, speaker, and founder of The Sycamore School for children with autism. Cindy has dedicated her time to improving Diversity and Inclusion in our communities, and was awarded an Australia Day Local Hero Award for her work in 2018. Cindy’s mission now is to support organisations on their journeys toward true inclusion.