What is Inclusion? (Without it, Diversity Doesn’t Count)

There’s no doubt that diversity is a powerful and immensely beneficial tool within any organization, especially within the workforce.  A genuinely diverse work team has a tang, a flavor, a seasoned strength. It is the secret power of any successful team. It might be easy to assume diversity only focuses on gender and ethnicity.  But true diversity is so much more!

A diverse team includes people from all backgrounds, ages and generations, abilities (and disabilities), educational experiences, socioeconomic levels, cultures, and religions. It is a beautiful fusion of humanity.

However, you can have the most diverse team in the world, but if you’re not actively practicing inclusion, you will not gain the benefit.

Diversity is your what. Inclusion is your how.

Inclusion allows diversity to flourish. Inclusion is the act of acknowledging, celebrating, and relating to every team member. In an inclusive company, employees know they are valued, celebrated for their uniqueness, and their voices have worth. Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, but inclusion can be a little trickier to put into practice.

  1. Be Open-Minded: We all have hidden biases. Most of the time, it’s not malicious; it’s just us being comfortable with what’s familiar and well-known. To be truly inclusive, you must keep your mind and heart open to others, especially those different from you. Learn to recognize and appreciate the differences that make up your team – they make your team!
  2. Diversify Your Leadership Team: Your leadership team should represent the diversity of your company. Leadership ends up as the face of the whole company and signifies the core values and mindsets of the brand. A diverse leadership team has an intrinsic understanding of the needs and perspectives of the various individuals that comprise the company.
  3. Celebrate Differences: Instead of just acknowledging differences — celebrate them! AN excellent way to do this is to create a company-wide calendar incorporating the different cultural and religious holidays your team members celebrate. It encourages awareness among the whole company! Why not host a picnic where employees are encouraged to bring one or two cultural dishes. At company meetings, create icebreakers that invite employees to share their backgrounds.
  4. Cultivate Inclusive Mindsets: If you’re focused on hiring a diverse team, you’re already on your way to an inclusive mindset within the company. But it’s important to encourage open communication and offer education about appreciating and recognizing how others think and view the world. It is vital among different generations.  Different generations sometimes view the smallest of things through vastly different lenses. Cultivate an inclusive culture of communication and understanding among the young, the middle-aged, and the not-so-young-anymore.  They will have various insights to offer!
  5. Build Relationships: Finally, the best way to create inclusivity is by personally building relationships. Get to know your employees. Learn about their backgrounds. Check-in with them often to make sure they feel heard and seen.

At Hamilton Connections, we believe relationships and connectivity are two of the most important things about any workplace. Diversity and inclusivity are rooted in relationships. If you’re looking to diversify your team, call us today, and let’s get started!