Diversity is important. In our workplaces, it leads to better environments and decision-making and profits.

Yes. Companies with consistent commitment to diversity are more profitable and their employees are more satisfied with their work.  Issa fact. Google it.

In our worldplaces, it leads to people who are more compassionate, intelligent and successful.

Yes. People are better when they are consistently exposed to people and environments that are different from their primary culture group. They have a broader world view that leads to being more open and flexible in their approach to communication and problem-solving. Issa fact, too. Google it.

Diversity fails because inclusion, equality and equity are lacking in our efforts. We put all these different people together without regard for their differences and without providing the proper tools for addressing everyone’s shortcomings. And then we act shocked when misunderstandings, disagreements and problems arise. And even more surprised when our diversity takes a dive.

It is important in our efforts to achieve greater diversity in our workplaces, that we not lose sight of inclusion, equality and equity. We have to understand what these things mean in order to know what to do to have successful diversity in our workplace.

  • Inclusion means “to make something or someone part of something; the state of belonging to a larger group or organization.” Inclusion is about belonging … In the context of diversity efforts in our workplaces, inclusion means making sure people who are different from the majority population being actively made to feel like they belong in the group.  More than just hiring different people, it is making sure they feel like a welcomed, appreciated and valued member both despite and because of their difference.
  • Equality means “the state of regarding or affecting all objects in the same way; having a status the same as another belonging to the same group.” Equality is about fairness and sameness. Equality is also about a feeling of belonging and inclusion … In the context of diversity efforts in our workplaces, equality means making sure people who are different from the majority population are given access to the same resources and opportunities. It also means making sure rules and their impact are applied fairly to people who are different from the majority population. More than just promoting people who are different, it is making sure they have the necessary equipment, funding and compensation as their majority counterparts.
  • Equity means “remedial justice to ensure fairness or override a narrow rigid system of rules.” Equity is about justice. Equity is also about achieving fairness and sameness … In the context of diversity efforts in our workplaces, equity means making sure people who are different from the majority population are given additional resources when necessary to ensure they perform at the same level as their majority counterpart. It also means making sure that the rules which have adverse impact when applied to them are adjusted and interpreted to avoid the negative impact when necessary. Equity is the most difficult because, to the majority population, equity feels like favoritism or discrimination against them. However, this is a logical fallacy that is contrary against the definition of the word. Equity is designed to ultimately achieve freedom from bias and favoritism by assigning resources to level the overall playing field. In the context of diversity efforts in our workplaces, equity has been generally vilified to the point where most organizations hide their attempts at equity or have given up on it altogether. We are willing to hire and promote people who are different; we aren’t willing to provide them with additional resources or dismantle policies to ensure their success for fear of being accused of some kind of reverse discrimination.

Diversity ultimately falls apart because we aren’t willing to do the work necessary to fully level the playing field because we fear being judged. So we allow the bias of our systems to continue and demand people who are different continue to work harder with less to try to achieve the same results.

That’s just messed up, y’all.  Completely and totally messed up.

Diversity is defined as “the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization.”  Inclusion is in the very definition of diversity.  Equality is in the very definition of inclusion. Equity is in the very definition of equality. All of these must be present for people to be and succeed as the best version of themselves. Anything less is doing it wrong than all 4 elements is doing it wrong. If any one of these is missing, diversity cannot survive or thrive and we all lose.