Find out why — and how inclusion can help you reach your company’s diversity goals.

stock-photo-fish-bowl-with-two-blue-fish-136159.pngGlobally, organizations are committing to diversity and inclusion initiatives at a higher rate than ever —  87 percent say it’s a stated value or priority for their company, according to a 2016 PwC survey.

Nearly half of the survey respondents who lead and execute their organization’s workplace diversity program, however, acknowledged diversity remains a barrier to personnel progressing — indicating many employee diversity efforts still have a long way to go.

For some, inclusion may be the missing ingredient.

Although diversity and inclusion are sometimes thought of as the same concept, in reality, they’re two very different elements — and each plays a crucial role in an employee diversity-based initiative’s success.

If you’re unsure if your organization is addressing both equally, we’ve got answers to some of the most common diversity and inclusion questions:

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Think of diversity as referring to representation; increasing diversity in the workplace would equate to hiring a more diverse staff.

Inclusion takes that a step further. It involves actions that facilitate connections, personal growth and other factors that help an organization encourage and attract diverse talent.

Diversity, in other words, is the mix of people; inclusion involves getting them to work together effectively.

Is there a reason why diversity programs fail without inclusion?

For diversity to truly become a standard approach that’s ingrained in the way a company does business, you can’t approach efforts to increase diversity as a numbers game. Simply putting hires from underrepresented groups in various roles won’t guarantee leadership members, managers and other employees will support employee diversity in a greater degree.

Take, for example, the 2016 University of Colorado Boulder study that found women and nonwhite executives are actually often penalized for supporting the promotion of diversity in the workplace. Compared to employees who followed the status quo, they received much worse ratings from their bosses in a confidential survey.

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What elements need to be in place for long-term diversity changes to occur?

Despite the challenges workplace diversity programs face, incorporating some of the following items can help increase your diversity and inclusion initiative’s impact:

Obtain buy-in from leadership

Just 28 percent of organizations have a diversity and inclusion leader in the C-suite, according to PwC; although tasking leaders with specific program goals is key to driving results, only 37 percent have done that. Even less measure progress toward particular diversity goals. 

Encourage employee sponsorship

Although research conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation identified employee sponsorship as one of three elements that correlate with lower levels of reported bias, not all organizations provide a supportive atmosphere for relationships to thrive.

Twenty-six percent of senior-level African-Americans and a fifth of senior-level Asians and Hispanics feel obligated to sponsor employees who share their gender or ethnicity, according to the center’s survey; yet some, worried they may not have the power to pull protégés of color up to a higher rank, hesitate to take action. Just 18 percent of Asian employees, roughly 20 percent of African-American employees and a quarter of Hispanic employees are currently participating in an employee sponsorship opportunity at their company.

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Provide comprehensive diversity training

In addition to buy-in, target leadership when you’re designing diversity and inclusion initiative educational opportunities. Fifty percent of organizations where diversity is not seen as a barrier to progression have leaders trained on managing diverse populations, according to PwC.

Take Coca-Cola, for example, which has, as its website says, a multifaceted workplace diversity program involving diversity training, a diversity speaker series and a diversity library. The soda manufacturer also offers supplier diversity training to help ensure its associates know how to create a pool of suppliers that encompasses minority- and women-owned businesses — extending its diversity efforts even further.

If you’re looking for additional tips on making your workplace diversity program more successful, you may find some ideas in our blog posts on the top five elements your diversity and inclusion initiative should include, why you should consider sharing your employee diversity program successes with team members and the general public — and what the most diverse companies are getting right.

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