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Careers in Tech 2020

Why diversity and inclusion should go hand-in-hand

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Sarah Wood

Digital Marketing Executive at Women in Tech & Diversity in Tech

There’s a significant difference between being a diverse company and being a diverse and inclusive company, and often that difference can be the measure of employee wellbeing.

Inclusion is diversity’s vital companion because it’s how companies can reap the benefits of having a diverse workforce. If people don’t feel included in their workplace then it’s likely that they won’t be working to their full potential and in that instance, they will risk missing out on producing their best quality work, as will their employer. 

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is often best described as a feeling of belonging. It is a value that exists at the heart of an organisation whereby the goal is to ensure everyone is culturally and socially accepted regardless of their backgrounds or any other differences. 

There are important values that feed into the definition of inclusion and those are participation, respect and confidence. Regardless of how diversity or difference are determined at any given organisation, if people are all encouraged to feel equal, respected, involved and confident in their contributions, they are likely to feel more included than excluded. 

Why should inclusion go hand-in-hand with diversity?

Diversity comes in many forms, from gender, race, age, ethnicity, socio-economic background, academic background, religion and culture. The core reason inclusion should always go hand-in-hand with any diversity strategy is that inclusion fosters a genuine understanding of difference, which has a multitude of advantages for both employers and employees alike, for example productivity levels and staff retention. If employees feel like they work in a safe and inclusive environment, free from lack of understanding, then their output is likely to be higher. This, in turn, leads to both higher quality products and services for the company and career progression for employees. 

Be open and encourage employees to learn about differences

Genuine diversity with inclusion can be achieved by being open and honest about differences, fostering discussion about the advantages of difference, creating time and space for employees to learn about each other’s differences and ensuring company incentives are inclusive of the needs of all employees rather than just the majority. 

For diversity and inclusion to be more than a checkbox exercise, support networks such as employee network groups, inclusive leadership practices and internal mentorship programmes are practical solutions to create an inclusive workplace that employers need strategies for. A great working example of how this can work is CBRE’s Diversity Week, where employees are given time and resource to celebrate and learn about each other’s differences. 

Without inclusion, diversity, arguably, cannot succeed as a core company value because there is a risk that people may start to feel marginalised by their differences. That’s why it’s so important when considering a diversity strategy that questions are asked about how to ensure diversity is seen as a strength, how inclusion can be instilled and measured and, ultimately, how accepted people feel despite their differences. 

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