What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

05 August 2019

As the emphasis on instilling successful and long-lasting diversity and inclusion policies increases, business leaders and senior figures are facing a stronger call to action than ever before to do more than just complete a simple tick-box exercise.

In order to have a successful business, we must first hold the core values of diversity and inclusion at the heart of corporate culture. In recent research, McKinsey & Company recognised that diverse teams perform better, and bringing these findings to the forefront of the global business agenda is of paramount importance.

With this in mind, it seems like the right time to ask the following question: What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

 

Diversity

Diversity explores who is sat at the table – whether that is at boardroom level or throughout the business. It delves into differentiating individuals and providing them with a platform to excel, and to be empowered for who they are and what they can bring to a business. Diversity requires us to respect people for the qualities and differences we have, and to appreciate the varying dynamics of our age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation and education that make us so unique.

To nurture diversity, it is important to ensure the workplace is a safe and positive environment for people to share their thoughts and to be able to come together collaboratively. Welcoming this into a company, with sincerity and care, means understanding and embracing that the community of people we find ourselves within are a rich tapestry of creative and passionate people from various walks of life – all striving to uplift the workplace that brings them together.

 

Inclusion

It is one thing to fulfil the who, but inclusion goes further to drive us to perform how we deliver this. Business leaders and corporations must consciously deliver these positive values to ensure all employees are treated equally. It is not enough to have a diverse workforce, if you are not prepared to implement a culture and an ethos that accepts the value they bring.

Inclusion can often be described as a feeling of belonging, community and safety. There has to be a process that trickles down from the top of the boardroom to the wider company below to deliver inclusion. This may be through policies, practical changes to facilities, and providing on-going support, training and wellbeing incentives to create the inclusion that all employees deserve. For individuals joining a company, seeing that an employer has made a sincere commitment to ensuring inclusive values will make them feel reassured that the company is well-rounded and has its values aligned with a healthy and tolerant society.

Significantly too, diversity and inclusion also require us to understand that we need to be accepting of people that think differently too. This may be through having alternative opinions, styles of leadership and a range of different personalities working alongside each other. But, importantly for forward-thinking businesses, this all pulls together to ensure that diversity stems throughout the company, all the way from junior positions to the C-suite. Get this right and you will foster a truly diverse and inclusive environment.