When it comes to Diversity and Inclusion, many organizations are actively focused on checking diversity boxes, but falling short of building genuinely inclusive workplaces that blend professionals of different demographics, backgrounds, experiences, and types of expertise. That’s a shame too, because there are documented business benefits for organizations with inclusive environments.   

If recruiters are aiming for diversity, but falling short of inclusion, they are missing out on a vital opportunity to create a high-performing team, rich with different perspectives and experiences. Hiring for diversity is just the beginning. How can you make sure that your workplace is inclusive and what are the barriers to that process? Here are quick facts to start building a more inclusive team.

An Evolving Definition of D&I

While many recruiters and talent managers have been invested in hiring for diversity, few are doing as much as they should to foster inclusion. That’s especially important for talent that generally falls into the millennial bucket, the older section of which has reached a more mature career stage. A 2015 study from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Institute (BJKLI) shows that millennials have a profoundly different view of D&I than their baby boomer peers. Instead of seeing inclusive workplaces as those that just throw a bunch of people from various backgrounds together, millennials are seeking something called “cognitive diversity,” meaning the ability for diverse teams to come together and solve complex problems together.

The evolving definition of D&I is just as invested in job performance as it is in inclusive workplaces, and it is that inclusiveness itself that is part and parcel of the bottom line. Moreover, millennials do not feel the need to downplay their differences in the workplace as much as older generations. The days of checking one’s identity at the door are over, and people are becoming increasingly more comfortable with bringing their whole selves to work.

Separating Diversity and Inclusion

Without inclusion, even the best-laid diversity efforts fall short. HR, talent management, and recruiters need to start separating these two terms and approaching them as the unique concepts they represent. According to a 2017 Harvard Business Review article: “In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen.” As D&I subject matter expert Vernā Myers states: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

With this in mind, how can organizations start turning diversity into inclusion?

  • Support inclusive leadership: Foster leaders who give quality feedback, share credit with others, take advice, and empower their team members.
  • Map career paths: A clear career path is imperative to everyone, but especially people of color, women, LGBT, and other minorities in the workplace.
  • Encourage networking and visibility: Especially for diversity hires, this is very important. Consider asking leaders to sponsor minority hires to help them further along in their careers.

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