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Diversity vs. inclusion in the workplace

Diversity vs. inclusion. We sometimes confuse these terms and use them interchangeably. Below, we'll provide their definitions and explain how they differ from each other, especially in the workplace.

What is diversity?

Diversity in the workplace describes the variation in personal, physical, and social characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, age, and education.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion refers to the procedures organizations implement to integrate everyone in the workplace, allowing their differences to coexist in a mutually beneficial way. The goal of inclusion strategies is to make everyone feel accepted and comfortable, ready to share their opinions and thoughts without hesitation. 

What is the main difference between diversity and inclusion?

To further clarify the distinction of diversity vs. inclusion, we can look at diversity as a globally accepted concept which brings different people into the same territory. Inclusion, on the other hand, introduces concrete methods and strategies to make diversity work. 

For example, a recruiter who has overcome their unconscious biases will manage to hire diverse people and build a diverse team. If these team members feel valued, respected, and able to contribute equally to the team, then the company has succeeded in including them at a high level through its policies and culture. Workforce diversity has been linked with many benefits, such as boosting creativity and enabling more effective problem solving. Hiring managers, though, tend to hire people with similar attributes to them, which leads to homogeneous teams and culture. This is mostly down to the fact that people are often attracted by similarities, which automatically creates a feeling of common understanding and belonging. But, having recognized diversity’s blessings, recruiters have started to combat bias and strive for heterogeneity when they hire people. 

Once managers have achieved diversity in their team, the next step is to implement inclusion tactics. Team members need to feel psychologically safe and included to bring diversity’s benefits to light. Some of the common strategies companies adopt to enable this are implementing an EEO policy, conducting training sessions in inclusive leadership or intercultural communication and recruiting diversity and inclusion managers.

To sum up, diversity and inclusion are complementary and depend on each other. Inclusion is the conscious effort organizations exert to support diversity and pull it beyond simple hype.

Want more definitions? See our complete library of HR Terms.

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