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Why you can’t have diversity without inclusion

Engagement | Resource

Posted on: Wednesday November 23, 2022

by Sarah Lardner, Director of Business Innovation

Why you can’t have diversity without inclusion 

The terms diversity and inclusion are used a lot, almost to the point where they seem interchangeable. Let’s start off by stressing that they are not interchangeable. They mean distinctly different things, and to be a truly modern organisation that is fit for the present times and for the future, you can’t have one without the other. 

The difference between diversity and inclusion 

Diversity in the workplace refers to the existence of variations and different characteristics in a group of people – or simply put, a range of people in the workplace. But diversity isn’t just about race, gender, or religion. It encompasses so much more.  

When we speak of diversity, we’re also talking about the way we think, how we work, how we react to situations, the list goes on. Diversity is finding and mixing variations with anything and everything that goes into creating a person’s identity. 

Diversity is not paying lip service.  

But that’s exactly what it becomes when you don’t have inclusion.  

According to CIPD Workplace inclusion is when people “feel valued and accepted in their team and in the wider organisation without having to conform”. That last part is particularly useful. You want to create an organisation that makes people feel included without having to change who they are.  

When you take inclusion to the next (and sometimes more important) level, inclusion is offering your diverse group of people a seat at the table. It’s giving them the opportunity to speak up and to make a difference. It’s taking them seriously as professionals.  

The business and moral case for genuine inclusion 

There are many positive reasons to have an inclusive work environment the top ones are: 

  • An increase in employee engagement. If an employee feels valued and as though they can make a meaningful contribution to their work, they are more likely to stay. 
  • Attract top talent. Research from McKinsey shows that people want to work for organisations that have diverse and inclusive cultures. 
  • Greater business performance. According to a study from Deloitte, inclusive workplaces generate 30% higher revenue per employee than their competitors. 

Morally, businesses need to consider what inclusion really means. For example, when some businesses hire senior women, executives view it as ‘ticking the diversity box’. But they aren’t genuine in their inclusion as the hiring often coincides with a downturn. This is what’s known as the glass cliff. The phenomenon describes the situation where women are more likely to be appointed to leadership roles during times of crisis or downturn when the risk of failure is much higher. After having broken through the glass ceiling, the experience of many women is different from their male counterparts, as the women often find themselves in more precarious positions. 

For diversity to be genuine, it cannot be a half-hearted, it is something that will require inclusion and according to BIS, time to do correctly. 

Diversity & inclusion are two sides of the same coin, and you can’t have one without the other. There are many reasons to create an inclusive workplace: not only will your bottom line improve, but you’ll also create a much happier and more engaged workforce. 

Want to learn how to foster a culture of diversity & genuine inclusion? Get advice from a Personal Group Benefits Expert or subscribe to more of our blogs


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