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Diversity is a statistic, inclusion is an emotion.

Much is said about diversity and inclusion these days. New D&I managers are appearing like daffodils in the spring. Companies are trying to impress with their credentials, some are upset that Pride didn’t take place in London this year so that their once a year rainbow brand couldn’t be shown on the bus.

As Disraeli said, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Look how many women we employ, wow, 50% incredible! Let’s walk past the numbers in senior positions as that’s a little more uncomfortable. The recent employee survey data says we have a few more LGBT + folks. Big % growth improvement here (let’s show the growth not the absolute number as thats also a bit tricky). Yes it’s important to know the data yet this is but the start of the journey to becoming an inclusive company.

Inclusion is more about emotion and feelings. It’s harder to measure, you have to actually ask people how they feel. Surveys help but are prone to bias and simplification - who has time for a 15 minute questionnaire? Managers are often nervous about raising the inclusion topic. Some managers are the cause of some incusion issues. Lets get the HR folks to do it they are neutral or even that new D&I person, surely that’s what they are here for? What if people make unreasonable demands? What if I don’t agree? This is the far trickier part of the whole topic. For me, the sign of a great culture is when people are able to discuss openly challenging topics without fear of backlash, ridicule or worse, bullying. When managers feel able to challenge and debate different points of view and not in the ‘i am right, you are wrong style of discussion seeming so prevalent today, there is something strong and positive about a culture. I get it that managers and senior leaders are worried about offending sadly often now to the point that they say nothing at all. This is a terrible place to be.

Professional help is always available but my strong advice is lead from the front (and top) on this topic. Try some reverse mentoring, find your best role models, feature staff of difference in the newsletters, make sure there is no bias in recruitment. Above all, when you say ‘we are an inclusive company’, be able to demonstrate, with more than just data, that this is true.

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