Diversity vs. Inclusion. What’s the Difference?

We often hear the term “diversity” but how many of us know what it actually means where the workplace is concerned? Further, a new term, “inclusion” is being used. In the chart below, we outline the difference between both terms. Diversity in the workplace often refers to cultural, racial and ethnic diversity. While some may speak of race when speaking of diversity, the term also includes differences in gender, sexual orientation, ability and age. However, diversity is increasingly being used to speak to difference in learning styles and mental health issues.

Differences of opinion, worldviews and working styles are also reflected. Diversity is achieved when a workplace reflects differences amongst employees that are based on their identities, such as gender, religious affiliation, race or sexual orientation. Dr. Verna Myers describes diversity is “being asked to the party”.

On the other hand, a workplace can be described as inclusive when individuals, in-spite of their differences, contribute in meaningful ways to all aspects of the organization, especially at the levels of decision making power and authority. If diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is “being asked to dance”, in the words of Myers. Inclusion speaks to the intentional use of the skills and talents of all employees, regardless of their identity positions. In an inclusive workplace, employees are actively promoted, mentored, developed and motivated to perform at their fullest potential.

Dr. Anita Jack-Davies, Program Founder

As a Workplace Diversity Consultant I often work with clients in charge of DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion). I was moved to develop the Badges2Bridges program after working with Alan. Alan was a new Staff Sergeant in charge of a new DEI unit at his police service. When we first met to talk about how I might support his work, I could tell that he was not only nervous about his new role, but unsure about this new world of cross-cultural understanding that I was asking him to know. Keeping Alan in mind, I set out to create a program that he, and other officers like him, could use as a resource as they develop and implement DEI measures for their organizations. Alan was trained as a police officer. The DEI sector was new to him. He wanted to do well, even though he knew that he was embarking on training in a new sphere that took him out of his comfort zone. Alan and I worked together on a few DEI projects over a two year timeframe. With each project, I learned from Alan in the same way that he learned from me. I watched as his confidence and commitment to DEI measures increased. Eventually, Alan was promoted because it was clear that his commitment to DEI issues extended far beyond his role. Looking back on his growth, I realized that other officers and leaders also need support in their DEI efforts. It is my hope that they will turn to Badges2Bridges as a training resource that will supplement what they already receive at the police college and in their annual training.

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