Lip Service to Diversity and Inclusion Makes Me Angry
Is it just me or are the words “Diversity and Inclusion” being thrown around like a fad, like the next new shiny thing for businesses? What I find interesting, or more like angry (and those who know me well will let you know I am not an angry person, nor do I often get angry) is that you can’t turn around without hearing it, reading it on social media or seeing a job posting for it. I’m not angry that it’s out there because this is a VERY important topic. What gets me angry is that it’s being used casually and offhanded as lip service.As if by saying it, it makes you diverse and inclusive. I don’t know how often I’ve heard people associate it with a very narrow definition of gender or cultural diversity and often leave out what it means to have inclusion. We blend the worlds together as if it’s the one and the same. As Verna Myers, the new VP of Inclusions Strategy for Netflix states, "Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance."
Diversity and Inclusion is beyond the #MeToo movement, not to confuse with the #blacklivesmatter issues, it's beyond gender equality, and cultural biases. It's all part of it, but there is so much more.
How many of us think of diversity and inclusion to include age? How often do we talk about ageism in the workplace when it is one of the most common forms of employment discrimination?
How often do we include those who need physical and mental accommodations by talking about ableism?
How about religion? How often do we include other religious holidays or flexibility in using holiday time outside of “Christmas” and other traditionally based Christian holidays?
How often do we see all the ways that our world should be diversely represented in marketing or advertising materials? It’s more than throwing in a person like me in a picture to show diversity and inclusion.
We can have a diverse group in our workforce, but it may not be inclusive.
So, how do I become less angry? I get less angry by using the time I currently have on my hands during my sabbatical to attend amazing panel events like “Breaking Bias: The Road to Diversity and Inclusion” by Women in Digital with panelist like Sage Ke’alohilani Qianmno, Ashlea Elliott, and Susi Collins to hear truly thoughtful conversations. These women have been living it and advocating for diversity and inclusion before the fad.
The time has provided me with the opportunity to be a panel member at Seattle Interactive Conference on “How to (Actually) Support Women and Families in the Work Place” and represent the diversity and inclusion aspects within this adjacent topic.
I attend events like Hacking HR as they build out how to “hack” HR. Again, has strong conversations around people strategy which has to include diversity and inclusion. In addition, I have time to read, read, and read some more.
If you’d like to get less angry like me and get more informed, here are a few great articles I would recommend. Also, please share with me if you have others I should read.
I think this article by Ella Washington and Camille Patrick does a great job of explaining the difference between "diversity" and "inclusion."
A Harvard Business Review article called "Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion” by Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid calls out some great stats.
This article “What is Religious Discrimination and Accommodation?” provides some good solutions for observing different religions in the workplace.
Interesting view from Jon Evans on “Giving up on ‘diversity and inclusion’” and most like the way I felt when I wrote this article about lip service.
Or the TedTalk by Janet Stovall where she defines "Diversity is a numbers game. Inclusion is about impact."
There are so many more articles out there and so many amazing events, talks, and organizations. Get involved and DO something about diversity and inclusion and not just say how important diversity and inclusion is. If you’re thinking, “I’m not in HR. How can I make a difference?” Here are some things you might want to think about doing.
Check your creative to ensure it's not just cultural diversity that is represented but also diversity in age and persons with disabilities.
Lend a hand to help put numbers behind the organization so that they can measure. It was an eye-opening moment for me and my organization when I pulled numbers for a Diversity and Inclusion speaking event I was invited to at Starbuck’s Global Creative Studio.
Speak up and request a diverse project group representation for your next project.
Start your own group. I’ve known many grassroots groups that were built not by management but employees within the organizations.
I realize this is only a little of what could be done. But everything starts by doing something little that grows. Please don’t let diversity and inclusion be just lip service spoken out loud.