When organizations consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at their company, they often start with that first term. Diversity can feel like the most quantifiable idea of the three. After all, you can create metrics about what percent of your company or leadership team is from specific ethnic groups, races, gender identities, or sexual orientations.
Inclusion can feel more abstract. How can we find out whether teams feel part of the organization at any given moment? And how do we change how someone experiences the workplace?
This is important, deep work. And it’s essential. Ultimately, diversity is useless without inclusivity. Yes, you can create teams that check off a specific demographic. But to create meaningful change, all your employees need to be pulling together and contributing. Otherwise, you’re leaving voices, skills, and talent buried and unappreciated.
Fortunately, inclusion doesn’t have to be complicated. Like diversity, it can be measured. And pursuing a sense of belonging can even be rewarding.
Let’s start by looking at why inclusion is important.
Inclusion Works in Tandem With Diversity
Diversity without inclusion is a temporary measure, at best. If you take the time to create job descriptions that encourage everyone to apply, work to expand your networks, and are thoughtful about where you recruit, you’ve taken some important first steps. You’re making sure a diverse pool of candidates feels welcome to apply to positions at your organization.
But then what? What will the experience of working for your organization be like? To make sure that your efforts go beyond recruitment or hiring, it’s important to create a workplace where workers feel like they belong. Otherwise, only one part of the employee lifecycle honors your commitment to DEI.
Jeanine Prime of the Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness describes inclusion as the experience where a worker feels like they “belong, but also that they are unique.” According to Prime, when workers feel this way, they’re more likely to stay and contribute to their organization.
Diversity and inclusion together work in a similar way. Diversity celebrates the uniqueness of your workers and brings more voices to the table. It is belonging, however, that makes sure you can pull together as an organization.
Diversity Without Inclusion May Be Hurting Your Teams
A study from BetterUp found that one in four employees polled felt like they don’t belong in their workplace. And a study from the University of Ottawa found that 91% of workers polled reported feeling like they don’t belong, a feeling that many polled reported as being “more harmful” than direct harassment.
In other words, diversity without inclusion is exclusion, and research shows that it can have a devastating impact. Nobody wants their teams to feel worse than if they were being harassed.
The stakes are higher than just unhappy workers, too. Not focusing on inclusion can harm the work your teams do. Research from the Center for Talent Innovation found that workers who feel included in the workplace are 3.5 times more likely to be productive and driven compared with their less-included peers. When you focus on creating a welcoming and diverse workplace, you free workers to do their best work.
Inclusion Helps You Reach Your Goals
There’s a reason you want diversity on your team. Maybe you’ve looked around and realized you want a fairer workplace, one that better reflects the diversity of the world or your business location. Maybe you’ve read that diverse teams outperform more homogeneous ones.
There’s research to back up the importance of inclusion as well. When Google set out to determine what made teams most effective, they discovered the secret was how well teams worked together, not who was on the team. And the secret to how well teams collaborated? Psychological safety. Without inclusion, teams can’t have this essential safety that helps them perform. When workers feel excluded, they may not feel they can trust their team to accept them as they are.
When you do focus on inclusion, you create a strong sense of safety. Workers know they can be themselves, which helps them perform better. Your workplace is fairer because employees aren’t being singled out or facing harassment for their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or physical ability. Workers get the support they need to have an equitable chance at career opportunities. With inclusion in place, more of your workers’ skills and passions can thrive so customers and clients get better outcomes, too.
Can You Have Diversity Without Inclusion?
Not really. Yes, you can hire a more diverse team. But without inclusion, retention will always remain an issue. The people you hire will likely not feel part of the team unless your workplace is inclusive. Talent will likely leave a workplace that isn’t inclusive. To put it simply: Diversity doesn’t stick without inclusion.
How Can Diversio Help?
At Diversio, we’ve been having important conversations about DEI for a while. Our years of research have confirmed for us that diversity is useless without inclusivity. It’s for this reason that our solutions aren’t stand-alone. We don’t focus only on diversity or equity or inclusion. Our holistic approach is designed to make sure you see measurable change in diversity, inclusion, and equity.
Diversio has solutions for different DEI needs, too. Diversio for Companies is designed for businesses of all sizes. Diversio for Portfolios can help you measure diversity across your entire portfolio and take action. If you need training for your DEI team, HR department, or your team, Diversio Training makes learning accessible and even fun.
Your work with Diversio begins with data gathering, analysis, and benchmarking so you understand what diversity and inclusion are really like at your company. We quantify how included your team feels, so you understand where any pain points may be. The Diversio Dashboard naturally leads you from metrics to action, with field-tested suggestions from the Recommendation Engine™ in humanistic language to keep you motivated, accountable, and inspired as you work towards a more inclusive workplace.
Create a full DEI solution for your organization, one that doesn’t ignore inclusion. Get started by requesting a demo from Diversio today.