Diversity And Inclusion: What's The Difference, And How Can We Ensure Both?

Diversity And Inclusion Whats The Difference And How Can We Ensure Both

Inclusion requires that everyone's contributions be valued, that individuals, regardless of the diversity dimension, have the opportunity to do their best work and advance.

How diverse is your workplace? And how inclusive is it? While many organizations may feel prepared to answer the first question, the second often causes a bit of confusion. Isn't it just the same question rephrased?

Thrown together, and they often are, diversity and inclusion are distinct terms for different concepts. Yet both are critical to developing a healthy workforce. How so? Rita Mitjans, ADP's chief diversity and social responsibility officer, explains.

Let's begin with the basics: What's the difference between diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Mitjans: Diversity is the "what"; inclusion is the "how." Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce — demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, just to name a few, and inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive.

How do people misinterpret or conflate these concepts, and what is often the result?

Mitjans: People sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but they are quite distinctly different. Often organizations focus on increasing diversity without focusing on the necessary foundation that enables diversity. You can certainly hire in diversity — whether it's more women, more Latinos or African-Americans — but if your culture does not embrace different perspectives, you will not be able to retain diversity. Inclusion requires that everyone's contributions be valued, that individuals, regardless of the diversity dimension, have the opportunity to do their best work and advance.

Why is it important for workplaces to focus on both diversity and inclusion?

Mitjans: Great talent is always in demand, and organizations are in competition for top talent. Candidates evaluating whether to join an organization want to see others who look like them at the top and work in a culture that values different perspectives and supports authentic, respectful behaviors. All generations appreciate a culture of respect, fairness and inclusion — but millennials are particularly drawn to this idea.

What sort of initiatives can organizations put in place to ensure both diversity and inclusion, including for LGBTQ individuals?

Mitjans: Sponsoring employee resource groups, including one for LGBTQ individuals, is a great start. Developing a baseline and goals for diversity and inclusion, and integrating those with current talent and business processes, is key. What gets measured gets done.

Ensuring leaders and talent acquisition partners are trained in unconscious bias and setting the expectation that there are diverse slates for openings and diverse interview panels also helps. Updating employment brand materials and language to reflect a diverse workforce. Implementing a voluntary self-identification program that allows employees to confidentially share their demographics, including sexual orientation and identity. Also, establishing recruiting partnerships with organizations like Out & Equal, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and LGBTQ and other diverse student groups at college campuses ensures you have access to a diverse talent pool.

While one can imagine ways of measuring for diversity, how do you measure for inclusion?

Mitjans: Inclusion is about belonging. There are numerous questions in engagement surveys that measure whether employees feel they belong, such as "My ideas and suggestions count," "This organization values my contribution" and "My manager treats me with dignity and respect." You can also look at turnover data with a diversity lens to see if there is a disproportionate number of women or ethnic minorities, for example, leaving the organization compared to the majority group. Exit interviews and Glassdoor reviews are also indicators of how inclusive an organization's culture is. Employee relations complaints (both in type and in volume) are also an indicator of inclusion.

What should diversity and inclusion goals look like for organizations?

Mitjans: Every organization is in a different part of the journey — and it is a journey, which means it's an ongoing process. Having specific goals for diversity and inclusion, and regularly measuring progress, is key. I would look to a few indicators: Does the leadership of the organization reflect the available talent pool in the marketplace? Are women and people of color advancing at the same rates as white men? Do our hires reflect the available skilled talent in the market across all roles? Do our pay practices support pay equity? Do all employees feel like they're treated fairly, and is the organization committed to advancing diversity and inclusion?

What challenges exist for workplaces implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Mitjans: With all the focus on advancing diversity, organizations also run the risk of backlash from majority groups. It's important to acknowledge this as a challenge and call out the elephant in the room. For example, white men make up only 37 percent of the population but over 70 percent of senior leadership, and it's even higher for CEOs. If we are looking to have leadership reflect the population, that will mean a rebalancing of those opportunities, resulting in a perceived loss for the in-group. This is where education and awareness come in. The business case for diversity and inclusion is about ensuring that all qualified talent has the opportunity to contribute, grow and thrive, because the population we serve and who consumes our products and services is diverse, and innovation by definition requires a different way of thinking.

This story was originally published on Forbes BrandVoice on 6/25/2018.