Untangling the Equitable WorkplaceOct 12, 2021
- By Sophie Pinkoski
Diversity, equality, and inclusion come up often in the work place. They’re so entwined, it’s often difficult to comprehend what each term means individually, and they become further muddied when reduced to empty buzzwords.
It’s easy to say your organization is committed to diversity, but what does that mean in practice?
Diversity, inclusion, and equality are the desired outcomes of the ongoing process of achieving equity. So how do you differentiate the three in order to create a truly equitable space for your team? By breaking them down as steps in the equity process:
Diversity - Simply put, diversity is the what of your organization. It speaks to the makeup of your team - in essence, the vast array of experiences, cultures, and talent that every individual brings to the table. Everyone on your team has their own unique perspective and when addressing diversity in your organization, it’s important to reframe the concept away from people outside the majority, or different from a dominant group.
We’re not all the same, and diversity is about accepting and valuing individuals for their differences rather than singling them out for them.
By diversifying your team, you’re expanding your organization’s range of skills, culture, and perspective. But it takes more than just opening your door to different people…
Inclusivity - If diversity is the what of your organization, inclusion is your how. Inclusion takes you from talking the talk to walking the walk. If diversity is about being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. It signals to them that their contributions are welcomed and valued.
Inclusion is about recognizing everyone’s individual talents in order to apply them to your team’s advantage.
In evaluating your organization’s inclusivity, it’s key to assess structural and societal barriers your team members might face according to their individual situations. Some will have more privileges than others, who may be more disadvantaged in comparison. Identify the blindspots in your organization where these challenges aren’t already being addressed.
Equality - Once you’ve identified your team members’ diverse experiences and actively included them in the workplace, equality is when everyone genuinely feels they’ve been given equal opportunities. Keeping them involved in the adaptation process lets them know they’re encouraged to be themselves and that their contributions are welcome.
Equality is the empowerment achieved when they understand they’ve been included.
This involves fostering a culture of acceptance where everyone feels supported.
It takes work to put each of these moving parts into practice, and it’s a process that’s never done. But if you can identify what each of these aspects mean for your organization, the process of equitability will become more organic over time. It’s up to you as a leader to set an example for your team by respecting and understanding everyone’s needs and experiences so that everyone can bring their best selves to work every day.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Explained, The GC Index
What’s the Difference Between Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity?, General Assembly
What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Really Means, Ideal
The Difference Between Workplace Equity and Equality and Why it Matters, Forbes