“Diversity” has become something of a buzzword in the last decade or so, especially among employers striving to populate their companies with people of different races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientation. For many, the term “inclusion” is simply a synonym for diversity. If your workforce is becoming more diverse, it means you’re including folks from a wider range of backgrounds, right?


It’s More Than a Number

Since 1966, businesses with 100 or more employees and certain government contractors have been required to submit an annual report to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), detailing the race, ethnicity, gender and professional level of their workforce. The EEOC reviews this data to ensure companies aren’t discriminating when selecting or promoting employees, especially for upper levels of management.

When it comes right down to it, some employers think of diversity as a reporting goal to reach or a quota to fill. Males, females, Blacks, Asians, and whites can easily become statistics rather than part of the team.

Where Diversity and Inclusion Converge

There’s another way to look at diversity, though. It isn’t limited to the way a person looks or their genetic makeup that makes them different. Diversity is also expressed in gender identity, social class, ethical values, religious or political beliefs and more. Today, recognizing a diversity of thought is becoming more important to employers than focusing solely on diversity in physical or racial traits.

So, how do you know your company has achieved diversity of thought? When you create a culture of inclusion. To do that, you have to understand that while inclusion and diversity go hand in hand, they are indeed distinct organizational qualities.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation (a non-profit “devoted to developing a brighter future for children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes” ) defines inclusion this way: “More than simply diversity or numerical representation, inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation and a true sense of belonging.” 

In other words, welcoming diversity to the workplace is great, but being diverse and inclusive means also welcoming diverse perspectives, thoughts and voices and empowering team members to share without fearing repercussion.

Inclusion and Equity

An authentically inclusive culture starts not with hiring mandates, but with the everyday attitudes and practices of leaders. According to Korn Ferry, inclusive leaders demonstrate five common traits: flexibility, emotional resilience, self-assurance, inquisitiveness, and authenticity. They promote fairness and justice, but strive for equity — addressing unique needs — rather than equality — giving everyone the same exact thing.

Diversity + inclusion + equity is a magic formula for success within an organization. According to Deloitte Insights, leaders who embrace this equation are:

Creating a culture of inclusion, bringing diversity of thought to the table, and striving for equity over equality throughout an organization don’t happen overnight, but they can start today. Giving every team member a safe platform like REV — where everyone can thoughtfully and respectfully share their unique views and stories without fear of retaliation or embarrassment — is an incredibly empowering first step. 


Source: Deloitte’s “The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths” https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/deloitte-review/issue-22/diversity-and-inclusion-at-work-eight-powerful-truths.html