April 17, 2019
Diversity is a fact: just look around you on the street, in a store or at work. Our overall population is becoming more diverse in every way. Acceptance of our diverse reality is the first step toward creating a productive, inclusive workplace.
Inclusion is an act: tracking numbers or hiring diverse job candidates does not ensure inclusion. Diversity simply exists; inclusion must be created. It takes deliberate actions to embed inclusion into an organization’s management practices and culture, since culture is “how we do things around here.” In organizations where all employees at all levels feel heard and supported to do their best, there is inclusion. Inclusion costs very little.
As Chief Talent Officer at United Way of Central Indiana, it is my job to develop a diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy to attract diverse job candidates who will enable us to reflect the communities we serve, and to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every practice and become part of the culture itself. As you might expect, I read widely on the subject, attend D&I presentations given by professional organizations, search out diversity plans that successfully inclusive companies post, and more.
As a leader in a nonprofit organization, I must spend my budget dollars wisely, so I am constantly on the lookout for effective ways to not only educate our team members on the constantly changing population in Central Indiana, but to provide as many ways possible for new and long-term team members to get to know and appreciate one another.
Exclusion is visible and strongly felt. I want our team members to feel welcomed and valued every day. We all divide our world into those worthy of our gaze, smile, “hello,” questions, help, kindness, time and even love. We feel excluded when someone chooses not to give us any one of those things. We notice it every time we are excluded.
Inclusion begets a sense of belonging. Inclusion is “and” instead of “or,” and it is “yes” instead of “no.”
Here are some ways to include others that do not require a big budget.
Inclusion feels warm, safe, welcoming and filled with potential. Inclusion softens the friction between the drivers and the doers. It charges the atmosphere with positive energy. No matter your generation, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or language, we all know inclusion when we see it—and feel it!