The Ongoing Debate Around Diversity & Inclusion

  • March 6, 2019

Much has been made recently over Deloitte’s decision to move their diversity efforts to a colorblind approach. What colorblind diversity efforts mean in practice is a move away from specific group and demographic initiatives towards a general inclusion effort. In the case of Deloitte, they decided to do away with their Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) because they felt that these groups alienated people. They also realize that the growing millennial workforce doesn’t want to be identified by¬†demographic categories. However, colorblind diversity policies are not the answer to the complicated issue of diversity in the workplace.

The state of diversity in the workplace is still far from ideal. In fact, researchers have found that in a lot of cases diversity and inclusion efforts do not actually help women or minorities in any real or tangible way, and it makes a lot of men feel like they are being treated unfairly and alienated. This does not help diversity and inclusion efforts. The only way that diversity can succeed is if everybody is on board with it and everybody is included. Clearly, many current diversity programs are failing everybody.

Interestingly enough, pro-diversity messages put forth by businesses do little to actually convince minorities that they will be treated more fairly. In a recent study, minority participants said they¬†view companies with pro-diversity messages and initiatives as no less-likely to discriminate against them, no more inclusive, and ultimately no better to work for than a company that doesn’t say a single thing about diversity or have a clear pro-diversity program.

The fact that everyone, men, minorities, and women, all see diversity programs as a non-factor or even an outright negative goes to show how difficult it is to establish true diversity and how poor most businesses efforts at diversity really are. So, what can we do to be more inclusive and to be sure that we are striving towards diversity? How can we craft pro-diversity messages without turning people away?

Craft Your Message. We must appreciate the effect that pro-diversity messages will have on people. For one, you need to make sure you are crafting messages that emphasize inclusion and foster feelings of confidence in women and minorities. At this moment, a lot of pro-diversity programs and messages do more to protect businesses from litigation than they do to actually promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. If you want your diversity efforts to be successful, you need to get everyone involved.

Be Accountable. Importantly, any diversity program needs to include accountability. If you want to work towards inclusion and diversity your diversity programs need to do more than just talk the talk. People need to be held accountable for their actions and words.

Value Differences. Our differences all deserve their own space. We need to celebrate our differences rather than draw lines in the sand. Understanding and conversation are very important to diversity efforts and should not be shied away from. Everyone needs to be a part of diversity efforts and conversations if they are ever going to be successful.

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