Inclusion & Diversity in Business

#TRVSTLOVES: Inclusion & Diversity In Business

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world that demonstrates how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. This time we’re taking a look at inclusion and diversity in business. 

Inclusion is what you do

"Diversity Is What You See, Inclusion Is What You Do". It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? It certainly got us thinking about the difference between diversity and inclusion, and whether the words themselves are interchangeable.

Diversity is a more widely recognized term and most often refers to what is observed, but the word “inclusion” is far more subjective. People tend to make their own assumptions about what it means to be inclusive, and where there’s room for interpretation, there’s room for discrepancies and misunderstandings. This is especially relevant when you consider that “shared vocabulary and clear metrics are essential to making progress in this space”. This rings true when we think about the power of language, and the fluidity by which it changes. Inclusive language in the workplace is incredibly important, helping to create a sense of belonging and to challenge bias. If we think of inclusion as an action rather than a concept, it can help us take ownership over the way we interact with others. 

Related: Check out our selection of equality and diversity quotes to inspire and inform you with some of the more famous sayings and verbatims from people working to improve and champion equality and diversity.

Fortune 100 is outpacing the Fortune 500 in board diversity

It’s 2021, and corporate board diversity is still an issue. In fact, six months before the Nasdaq released its diversity proposal it found that “75% of companies listed wouldn’t have met the proposal’s requirements”. Women and minorities are still being underrepresented which is hardly a surprise given the very recent Black Lives Movement of 2020 and ongoing gender inequality in business.

Corporate finance is a huge and complex world, but just this week a recent study revealed that the Fortune 100 index is now outpacing the 500 in board diversity, with women and minorities accounting for 42.2% of board members. The Fortune 500 has just over 30% of women and minorities represented in Fortune 500 boards. Whilst this might not be the only reason for the outperformance, there’s evidence that investors are stepping up the pressure to increase ethnic diversity on corporate boards, and there’s growing demand for companies to be transparent about their board members too.

Whilst these numbers may seem encouraging, it’s not exactly time to celebrate, the study also showed that the rate of representation for minority men showed no substantive increase in either the Fortune 100 or 500, so there's still a long way to go.

Five strategies to infuse D&I into the workplace

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

The journey to instill diversity and inclusion into the workplace isn’t going to happen overnight, or over the next six months, or even over the next five to ten years. But we need to keep working at it. So consider these five strategies to infuse D&I in your organisation, and whether you think they’re useful starting points for a business to adopt. 

It makes sense to say that the CEO should be a champion for D&I efforts; as leaders, they can help steer the company down the right path, but it was interesting to consider that CEOs need to take a public stance on the matter too. It’s no longer enough to simply say the right things, businesses are being held accountable to take real and meaningful action too. We were particularly interested to read about mitigating implicit bias at the systemic level.

All too often recruitment drives are in the same areas, aimed at the same universities or schools. Sometimes securing a new job can be down to “who you know”. All of this contributes to systematic bias, preventing many people from even having the chance to interview. It’s out-of-date processes like these that need to be recognized and revisited.

Podcast: Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

Here’s an interesting podcast episode to tune into if you’re interested in learning more about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Hosted by Harvard professors Youngme Moon and Felix Oberholzer-Gee they chat with Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei who’s worked with Uber, WeWork, and Pinterest, so she has some great insight. She talks about how businesses should put inclusion first, and diversity will naturally follow. This is similar to what we mentioned earlier, and how we should be mindful not to lump the two words together.

In the effort to fit in, Youngme talks about how people don’t always make the best contributions possible because they are “sanding away the edges of distinctiveness to be included”. This is such a poignant point and a great way of explaining how a non-diverse business doesn’t get the best out of its people. They discuss how organizations are often much more diverse than is first apparent, it’s just not so easy to tell because everyone is trying to fit in and be the same. There are so many great discussion points in this 40min episode, so definitely tune in if you can.

Diversity in the music business

We thought we’d move away from the typical office in our last post and look at the music business, and what it’s like to challenge diversity as a woman in music. Paulette Long OBE and her 35 year+ of experience in the music business is a fascinating read. From her own encounters of being one of the few women of color in the room, she reflects that speaking about gender equality seems to be a much easier conversation than speaking about ethnicity. Long says that when the CEO wasn’t engaged in an issue, then there would be no real movement, instead, a token effort would be the typical business response. This can so easily be reflected back to many businesses, and the importance of leaders being ready to make real change, not tick the right boxes.

On the subject of diversity in music, the UK Music Diversity Report 2020 has just been released, some of the key findings include:

  • Representation of Black, Asian, and other ethnic minorities among those aged 16-24 in the music industry stands at a record 30.6% (up from 25.9% in 2018).
  • The proportion of women increases from 45.3% in 2016 to a new high of 49.6% in 2020.

These are positive stats, but like with everything related to diversity and equality, there’s so much more work to be done.

Sam is a professional writer with a particular interest in promoting sustainable practices for small businesses.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Featured in Equality & Diversity
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