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.