“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
This quote stuck with me while it was being used during some recent focus groups I helped conduct with my colleagues at The FutureWork Institute. I noticed the instant reaction the quote garnered from the focus group participants and knew that not only was it heard, but it was well received.
As a professional millennial within the world of equity and inclusion, it is important for me, and others, to continue to advocate for a more inclusive culture within education and corporate America. Recent election results helped open our eyes to the very harsh reality we kept swept under the rug for far too long……yes racism is still alive and thriving in our beautiful “land of the free and home of the brave”. School segregation continues to increase despite the growing number of minority or biracial children, and many people of color still feel subtly excluded within the workplace.
During the 2016 Presidential election, many were surprised to see just how strongly droves of Americans still felt about people outside of their race or ethnic identity. As CNN correspondent Van Jones called it, the election results reflected a clear “whitelash” still present in America following 8 years with an African-American man as President.
So exactly what does it mean to be inclusive, and how does that differ from being diverse. Let’s take a deeper look…….
Diversity is defined as the state of being diverse; offering variety and a range of different things. Diversity is represented in countries like America where a variety of people from all nationalities, ages, and backgrounds are able to live and work together in one nation for the betterment of society as a whole. The concept of diversity is a great one, but some areas that diversity fails to touch on are the way in which those who are seen as outsiders are made to feel incorporated or involved within a particular group or culture. When someone viewed as an outsider fails to feel included within a particular culture the results can vary from anger and resentment to seclusion and lack of participation, among many others.
Inclusion is defined as the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Inclusion in modern terms means creating an environment where all within the group feel involved and incorporated within that particular culture or setting. Examples of inclusion involve having conversations with all of your coworkers/classmates/teammates and not just those who look like you or have a similar upbringing. When all within a group actually feel included within the group’s overall principles and culture this, in turn, leads to more loyalty, openness, and oneness within the group which helps with the overall success of the group’s goal/mission.
So why do many within a variety of minority groups desire a more inclusive culture rather than just a diverse one? While diversity does include variety, it fails to make all parties within the setting feel like their presence matters and is appreciated.
So here are three reasons why minorities prefer inclusion over diversity.
1: They Have Something to Offer
According to a report by the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, In 2013, more than half of professional jobs in the U.S. private sector (typically those requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher) were held by women. In 1966, that number was just 14 percent. And 50 years ago, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics each made up less than 1 percent of the managers and bosses in American companies. Today, those ratios have increased between five- and sevenfold, according to the report. Results like these are a clear reflection of the benefit minorities are able to bring to a company. Minorities are becoming more affluent as time progresses, and with the variety of demographics they come from, this is a major benefit for any company looking to diversify and broaden its overall reach to a very diverse public. Consumers are more moved to support a company, brand, or mission that they can identify with, or feel represented by. Now more than ever is it important to not only have a diverse team but also, make sure that all team members are motivated enough to share their happiness with the brand to the public who are always watching.
2: They’re Tired of Going Home Feeling Depleted
A recent study published in the journal Health Affairs found that members of certain minority groups are much more likely to be exposed to severe — even, in the long run, deadly — forms of workplace stress. Their results showed that work stress took a much greater toll on members of minority groups than on Caucasians and that these differences were largely driven by education levels.
Another recent study from Northwestern University suggests that the stress of racial discrimination may partly explain the persistent gaps in academic performance between some nonwhite students, mainly black and Latino youth, and their white counterparts. An article by The Atlantic explained this in further detail by sharing the story of 15-year-old Zion Agostini of Brooklyn, NY.
For 15-year-old Zion Agostini, the start of each school day is a new occasion to navigate a minefield of racial profiling. From an early age, walking home from elementary school with his older brother, Agostini took note of the differential treatment police gave to black people in his community: “I [saw] people get stopped … get harassed … get arrested for minor offenses.” Almost a decade later, Agostini said he now faces the same treatment as a sophomore at Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. “Me being a black male, I’m more likely to be stopped and frisked by a cop. Then, [I’m] going to school with more cops … [messing] with me at 7 in the morning.”
The strain of these interactions is heightened by the daily routine of passing through a metal detector, emptying pockets, and removing clothing that frequently makes him late to his first-period class. “The fact is now I’m [tardy] because I’m being scanned four times because of the metal in my necklace or my keys. I missed whatever [the teacher] was explaining … a lot goes on in [chemistry], and because of that I’m behind.” All of this combined takes a toll on his schoolwork, he said. “It does make it extremely hard to focus on the classwork … You’re upset, or sad, or just emotional about what just happened. It takes a while to settle.”
From these findings, it’s apparent that many within minority groups are dealing with a lot more stress from work and school than their white or male counterparts. An overly stressed out person is a hindrance to themselves and to society. No one should be made to feel like this, especially school children. The more happy people we encounter throughout our day only helps with spreading more positivity in the air. With the increasing division apparent in society following this year’s election, I think it’s safe to say that we could all use more positivity in our daily encounters. If we all agree to treat others fairly by making sure they feel included within the shared environment, it could result in a happier society for us all.
3: We All Deserve A Seat at The Table
With minorities accounting for more successful business ventures through entrepreneurship, breaking barriers in education, and helping to lead successful companies, it shows that now more than ever before is the time to provide a more inclusive culture.
Statistics are showing how minorities are behind much of the modern day successes taking place in America. So now is a perfect time (if you haven’t already) to pull out the seat next to you and offer it to the nearest minority within your group/setting. We all deserve a seat at the table, especially those who have worked hard to be able to have a seat today!
Keep in mind that inclusion applies to ALL, including the majority. It’s just very important for those within the majority to remember the value that those within the minority hold.
We love that we have been invited to the party, but we would love even more if someone asked us to dance!
What are some ways that you are working toward being more inclusive in your everyday activities?