Inclusion and Diversity are often used synonymously, however there is a strong distinction between the terms and it is fundamental this difference is known and understood within the workplace to ensure practices that ensure all employees feel they belong and are appreciated.
Summed up, Inclusion is the practice of ensuring that employees feel a sense of belonging and support from the organization. Whereas workplace Diversity refers to an environment whereby many different genders, races, nationalities, and sexual orientations and identities are present and their perspectives within the organisations are valued equally. While UK legislation covers age, disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation among other traits, an effective inclusive and diversive strategy goes beyond legal compliance and seeks to add value to an organisation, contributing to employee wellbeing and engagement as everyone within the workplace feels equally involved and supported and valued.
There are countless resources that outline policies that can be adopted by organizations to promote Inclusion and Diversity, but ultimately management must employ a zero tolerance policy, which employees are educated upon and follow. There must also be a safe space within organisations whereby employees can flag discriminatory behaviours, and management should have structural processes in place to solve these issues – it’s an effort that is made not by individuals but by the organisation as a whole!
To get an accurate perception of workplace inclusion, organisations need to understand what their current employees perceptions of inclusion are, whilst evaluating their management practices. This is essential as if employees don’t fully understand what being truly inclusive is, they will be employing and promoting the wrong strategies. For instance, if an individual must conform or change themselves in some way to feel included, this is not true inclusion.
The importance of creating an inclusive work environment is immeasurable. Giving everyone an opportunity to have their voices heard and valued is a benefit that goes without saying, but it also has the potential to improve overall productivity, organizational performance as well as making the workplace more welcoming for all employees. Ultimately, however, having a diverse team means you receive a variety of unique perspectives and skills, therefore a diverse team can come up with far more diverse solutions!