• Robin Rosenberg

Encouraging Inclusion in the Workplace

Dear Robin,


I work in HR for a midsized company. Our company has always thrived on diversity and a large budget is given to diversity hiring efforts - but my boss doesn’t seem to understand the importance of making sure our inclusion efforts are just as strong. Her goals seem to be only focused on hiring a diverse workforce. I believe that diversity extends past the onboarding of a new hire. How do I make her see that we should be investing just as much of our budget in inclusion efforts - when I don’t have any concrete numbers to show why our company needs it?



Answer:

Your company may not have numbers, but other companies do. Focusing on diversity as increasing numbers doesn’t get companies or employees where they want to be. Diverse candidates who are hired in such companies aren’t as likely to stay, since they are apt to perceive that they were hired for their demographic identity (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender), not necessarily for the skills, capabilities, and perspectives that they bring to the team. In fact, with a focus on diversity numbers, the value that diverse employees bring is often not cultivated. It’s no surprise, then, that this doesn’t create a sense of belonging for all employees. Without inclusion, diverse candidates who are hired, as well as their allies, are more likely to leave.


It might be helpful to schedule a meeting to ask your boss questions about the goal of hiring diverse employees. Discuss how the organization will know whether those goals are met, and why diverse hires might be likely to stay (or leave) if no efforts are made to increase inclusive behaviors. In other words, first, inquire about your boss’s thinking on this issue so you understand where he or she is coming from. Then you’re in a position to discuss possible ways to help the organization reach its goals, and point out potential obstacles.


When there is inclusion, diverse employees can uniquely help the organization grow in various ways by contributing unique perspectives. But colleagues have to be open to their perspectives.


Verna Myers, Netflix VP of Inclusion Strategy has said, "Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance." I’d add that inclusion is also being part of the team hosting the event—the team that decides the music, the guest list, the type of food and drink, and the event date.








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