“I do not wish to sit at any tables that want my skin for marketing, but not my voice for truth and perspective”
– Terence Lester
There’s been a profound shift in workplace culture over the last few years. Companies have been forced to reckon with the disparity in opportunity, hiring practices, and career advancement between dominant demographic groups (most often white heterosexual men) and marginalized employees. This long-overdue conversation has most often revolved around “diversity.” But focusing on diversity doesn’t address the root cause of these issues, it only masks it. It’s a coat of paint over a wall full of cracks. The key to real change is “inclusion”—the instrument that breaks down that wall and builds a stronger, more cohesive structure.
Moving Beyond Diversity
“Diversity” is often described as a “seat at the table.” If that’s the case, “inclusion” is having a voice at that table – the ability to converse freely, openly, and equally with the other people sitting down with you. While the acknowledgement that workplace diversity needs to improve was a significant step towards a more equitable world, the time has come to move the discussion beyond that surface-level measurement, and drill into the roots of inclusivity, why it’s more important than diversity, and what can be done to improve it.
Diversity & Exclusion
48% of black women in America feel that no one is invested in their career growth; waking up every day, working as hard (and more likely harder) than their coworkers all day, and then going home feeling that no one saw that, appreciated the effort, or cared enough to want to see them achieve more—for their entire working lives. That’s what a lack of inclusion looks like.
There are numerous examples of diverse workforces that have a shocking lack of inclusion. In the Silicon Valley tech world, companies will proudly tout how diverse their workforce is, without addressing the lack of opportunity they provide their employees. For example, Asian Americans make up 47% of the Bay Area’s tech sector workforce. Yet only a small minority of that demographic ever reach the executive level. Boasting about the diverse makeup of your organization because of the significant number of offshore employees that work as developers, customer service reps, or telemarketers, while giving none of those employees an opportunity to advance into an executive leadership role, rings astoundingly hollow.
America’s largest minority group, the Latinx demographic, makes up approximately 19% of the population, and close to 17% of the workforce. On the surface, that parity looks like a win for diversity. Yet 32% of Latinx employees report being denied promotions due to racial discrimination. Said one Latinx respondent in a Diversio analysis of 500+ North American companies, “I tend to keep my head down and ignore racist talk because I was harassed by my colleagues after previously speaking out about discrimination.”
Being denied the chance for career advancement, listening to openly racist comments from your coworkers, and then being silenced when you try to speak up for your own dignity and self-worth is how diversity without inclusion manifests itself.
Diversio’s mission from the outset was to build a technology that could objectively measure inclusion, create a trackable metric around that measurement, and implement a platform that would guide companies (through a process which can often feel obtuse and abstract) towards a more inclusive culture; benefitting not only the employees of that organization, but strengthening the businesses as well.
The data demonstrating the higher performance of companies that benefit from the diverse viewpoints and lived experience of an inclusive culture has been proven time and time again. Our goal was to unlock those benefits in a systematic way for any organization that made it their priority. That’s why this year, we want to shine a light on the ways marginalized groups are excluded from workplace opportunities and conversations, shift the discussion away from improving diversity, and focus on improving inclusion. Our hope is that by highlighting the data around those that continue to be excluded, we can generate more conversation around how to make them included.
The Era of Inclusion
Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing facts, data, and stories around the negative impact exclusion has on the lives of employees, and we encourage you to share your own personal stories as well. Have you experienced being given a “seat at the table,” yet found yourself without the ability to take part in the conversation once there? Tell us what happened, as well as what you’d like to see changed—whether in general or specific to your own lived working experience. Let’s move past the state of “Diversity and Exclusion,” and into the “Era of Inclusion.”
Learn More About Diversio’s AI-Powered DEI Dashboard
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