• Caterina Sullivan

Why Should Your Business Be Aiming for Inclusion, Not Diversity?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018



We have previously discussed how your organisation can embrace diversity and inclusion as part of your sustainability commitment. Today, we discuss why inclusion is more important than diversity and why many businesses are moving away from the term 'diversity'.

In business, we often discuss the idea of diversity and inclusion. However, there is an increasing push to move away from the term 'diversity' and towards the term 'inclusion'.

The nature of the term 'diversity' is one of siloing people based on certain characteristics. Inclusion, on the other hand, looks at including people within your organisation, without first pointing out that they may be different from others.

An organisation can only be seen as inclusive if the focus is not on the diversity of the staff but on the inclusivity of all people.

Many people who would consider themselves anything other than middle-aged white male are often concerned of what is known as a 'diversity hire', hiring a person based on age, sex, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. This happens especially when certain quotas have been put in place in an organisation. Diversity hires, or even perceived diversity hires, can cause employees to feel undervalued for their skillset, and it can lead to their inability to perform at their best.

So how can your organisation be an inclusive workplace without putting too much emphasis on diversity?

Using targets instead of quotas when it comes to personnel hire is a really fantastic way to start. The difference between targets and quotas is that quotas must be met, targets are just a suggested guide. This means that if a female employee leaves, but the best possible candidate to replace her is a male, even if your organisation has set a target for 50% women in the workplace, the best candidate can be hired without their being any repercussions on the company for slipping just underneath the target. This means that employees will feel like they have earned their job as opposed to have meant some arbitrary benchmark.

It is also really important to ensure all employees have access to the same resources. Studies have shown that white males are more likely to be mentored than women or minorities. By setting up a merit-based mentor program in your organisation which is inclusive of all staff, you will be creating a more inclusive workplace where all staff have equal opportunity for promotion.

Another way to ensure inclusion in the workplace is to be aware of your behaviours towards different people. For example, studies have shown that people of colour are less likely to receive a salary raise when requested than white men. On top of this, men are four times more likely to request a salary raise than women - and when women do, it is approximately 30% less than the average of their male counterparts. Being extremely mindful of raises in the workplace can prevent these kinds of disparities among employees.

There are a number of other ways to make inclusion a priority in your governance policies. To find out more information, contact our team!

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.

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Authorised by Caterina Sullivan (2018)

PO Box 6157

O'CONNOR ACT 2602

Australia